While the Penticton Lakers were swept aside by the Osoyoos Coyotes, coach-general manager Evan Marble still liked what he saw from his players.
The Lakers were first-round victims to the best team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League after losing 3-1 on Feb. 19. With the exception of Game 2, a 6-0 thumping, Marble felt his players competed hard in a series where they were outscored 18-4.
“The boys played with passion,” said Marble. “We had our chances and didn’t execute on the power play.”
While the Lakers had penalty issues in Game 2, Marble felt discipline improved during the final month.
Marble and Oakes both feel the Coyotes have a strong team with more talent than any other in the KIJHL.
Oakes added at this point it was a tough test for their young group.
“From our standpoint was how they played to their potential,” said Oakes. “We were fairly pleased with how they had raised their level in the last days of the season.”
Oakes added that he feels a lot of people don’t understand the philosophy behind the Lakers.
“For us it’s about using that team as a development ground,” said Oakes. “From a coaching and development point of view, Evan has done a pretty good job in making sure his players got themselves prepared and ready to push for BCHL spots for next year.”
Six Lakers have join BCHL teams as Brendan Halls and Jeff Coates are with the Westside Warriors, Mike Sandor joined the Victoria Grizzles, Grant Nicholson and Mike Berry are with the Penticton Vees and Zach Urban with the Powell River Kings.
“It’s exciting to see some players move on,” said Marble.
While the Lakers were successful in moving players forward, Marble described his first season behind a junior B bench as humbling. It’s the first time Marble is involved with a team that had a losing season. His focus was doing the best he could to help his players.
“I learned a lot about myself,” said Marble, who would like to see more team success next year to go with players advancing.
The ultimate compliment Marble received were from fellow coaches in the league saying that his team competed.
With the season finished, Marble and his staff will present Oakes with a review that looks at the Lakers competitiveness, stages of season, staff and players.
“Where will they get opportunities,” said Oakes of the players, who must either attend high school or Okanagan College to play on the team. “Where are they going next?”