It was a tough start to the new year for the Parkland Rangers.
The regional U18 AAA hockey team dropped a pair of games to the Winnipeg Bruins, 10-4 on Saturday, and 6-2 on Sunday.
Both games were in Swan River.
With the addition of Ukrainian-born center Havryil Simchuk, Rangers head coach Tyler Carefoot had hoped the team would have an increased energy level and new-found excitement.
“And the first period of the first game, I thought we performed really well. I liked our energy. I liked our pace. There were a lot of good things to like,” he said. “But when they have a team that deep, you almost have to have a pretty much perfect game. And our management was below average.”
Winnipeg scored five times in the opening period and added a pair in the second.
“It was one of those games that just got off the rails for us,” Carefoot said.
Carefoot felt Sunday’s score flattered the Bruins as he didn’t feel it was a 6-2 game.
The difference in the game was a stretch in the second period where the Bruins scored three times in a span of 1:06.
“One of the things we’re trying to focus on is trying to have better team defence. I thought in the first game, we were just too easy to play against. Overall, there was a lack of being good defenders,” Carefoot said. “That was something for the second game I thought we needed to do a better job of and just focus on going forward, having that mindset of just being really good defenders. And I thought we did a much better job of that in the second game.”
Carefoot added it was a much better effort overall in Sunday’s game. Things don’t get any easier for Parkland this weekend as they travel to Winnipeg for games against the Wild, Saturday and Sunday.
“We’re going through a tough stretch here. Somehow if we can weather this storm, maybe focus on the process instead of the results,” he said.
Simchuk, Carefoot said, adds some depth to the lineup. He had been practicing with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Dauphin Kings prior to joining the Rangers and had an assist in each game against the Bruins.
He is on a line with Dru Mushumanski and Cash Clarkson.
In moving Mushumanski to the wing, Carefoot hopes he can focus on finding some holes.
“And Simchuk has the ability to move the puck around. He’s got that awareness. He’s a very high skilled player,” Carefoot added. “But he was out of shape. He wasn’t in game shape. He didn’t have the stamina. But that will come.”