The Huskies play their final games of 2009 this weekend, when they make a road trip to Whitecourt and Slave Lake.
After a recent slide that has seen them post a record of 3-4 in their last seven, the Huskies head into Whitecourt much less confident than the team that raced to second place early in the season.
The Wolverines, meanwhile, continue to impress. Whitecourt remains undefeated, at 21-0 on the season. An anticipated matchup last weekend between the Wolverines and much-improved Grande Prairie Wheelers had to be postponed after Whitecourt’s bus broke down, meaning the Wolverines haven’t had a real challenge since their 3-2 overtime win in Dawson Creek on November 28th.
Making things tougher for the Huskies, is the fact they’ll be without some of their top players for the weekend. Coach Bob Kalb says Kole Norris, who broke a long-goal scoring drought last weekend in Beaverlodge, is heading to Mexico for the holidays, and will miss the games. Defenceman Ryan Stickel will also be missing, due to work committments. Also MIA for the pups – Jesse Disher, Cash Brinkworth, and Brian Gilbert. Kalb says he expects to find out on Thursday night if the MacKinnon brothers can make the trip, though he does say goaltender Garrett Muir has changed his holiday plans, and will be there.
With all those players missing, Kalb says the team will be making some adjustments. He says his team will have to be less aggressive, and is also working on a new forechecking system. "Not a trap" he says, "but more of a left-wing lock sort-of situation" he says, hoping to see his team simplify its game.
But, after a mediocre past month of hockey from his team, Kalb says effort remains the most important factor. "It just has to be consistent effort" he says. "Especially if something negative happens, it seems like we back off for a while, and it gets into our heads." He adds, "We have to learn that we have to just be able to work through that stuff, and keep on going."
Saturday’s game starts at 8:30 p.m. in Whitecourt. On Sunday, the Huskies head to Slave Lake, to take on the last-place Wolves, who they beat in four games in the first round of the playoffs last year. Sunday’s game starts at 2 o’clock. Both games will be broadcast live on Moose FM, and online at Energeticcity.ca, with the pregame shows kicking off 15 minutes before the puck drop.