With four wins in six games, things are good for the Penticton Lakers.
What makes Lakers coach Robert Dirk happy is that his group is working hard and competing. Those are two things Dirk said that coaches at any level want.
“It’s a process getting the guys to understand the systems that we want to put in place for every situation that happens on the ice,” said Dirk. “A lot of them A, haven’t played a system or B, haven’t played the systems we are trying to incorporate. There is a learning curve for that.”
Because of that, Dirk knows it will take a few months before his players feel comfortable. Once they do, they will be reacting to what happens.
Early on, players impressing Dirk are Kale Erickson and Dylan Sahara, who were acquired in trades with the Grand Forks Border Bruins. Erickson is tied for the team lead in goals with Michael Pond, racking up five in six games. Sahara has two goals and four points in four games. A majority of the team is made up of players from the Okanagan Hockey Academy or played with the Lakers previously. Another addition Dirk likes is Carter Jensen of Calgary. At six-feet and 175 pounds, Dirk feels the rookie is a power forward with edge.
On Friday, the Lakers host the Sicamous Eagles (3-3-0) at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 7 p.m.
Forward Dylan Sahara said that while the Eagles are a big team, if the Lakers utilize its speed, he feels they can take it to the Eagles. Heading into Friday’s game, Sahara said the Lakers have really come together.
“I think we should be able to have a good game on Friday,” he said. “If we play five-on-five and get a power-play here and there, capitalize on those, keep them back and play defensively, we can beat them that way.”
The Eagles are on a two-game winning streak as they defeated the North Okanagan Knights 4-2 and dismantled the Columbia Valley Rockies 9-2. With the Lakers splitting their goaltending duties, Jessie Gordichuk is likely to start.
“Until somebody establishes themselves as the No. 1 or has an injury or isn’t playing well, we feel we have two No. 1s,” said Dirk. “They are both playing very well. Our goaltending has been solid.”
The Lakers are coming off a 5-2 win against the Princeton Posse. Offensively, the Lakers were led by Pond, who scored twice, while Mason Chew netted the winner.
While the Lakers are 4-2-0, Dirk feels their record should be better.
“There is room for improvement,” he said. “I’m lucky right now because it’s a great group to work with in the sense of talented hockey players. They want to work hard and they want to get better.”