The Parkland Rangers showed what hard work can accomplish by earning three of a possible four points over the weekend.
After starting the week with a 6-4 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings, Parkland snapped a 10-game losing skid with a convincing 7-3 win over the Eastman Selects, Saturday.
Eastman got a measure of revenge on Sunday, beating the Rangers, 5-4 in overtime.
Parkland got off to a slow start against Brandon, falling behind, 4-1 after the opening 20 minutes, but rebounded to make a game of it, pulling to within a goal with under a minute to play.
Rangers head coach Tyler Carefoot said there was a lot for the team to be proud of in the three games.
“There’s lots to feel good about,” he said. “We teased the fellas a little bit, it’s almost like we’re peaking almost two months too late. But when you’re a young roster, it takes a little bit longer to be ready to execute and be ready every shift. But I think now we’re starting to see what the future holds for our program.”
The Rangers were noticeably active with their sticks in the defensive zone, part of the team’s commitment to team defence.
“That’s all about being responsible to team defence, to sticks in lanes, getting into shooting lanes, D side of the puck. And I think almost to a player, we are doing that,” Carefoot said. “And I think for any player, if we’re going to trust you, it starts with D.”
The whole team played well, which allowed Carefoot to use the entire roster. Players, he added, are starting to feel good about themselves.
Sunday’s game was the first time newcomer Havryil Simchuk did not get on the scoresheet. He had five goals and four assists in his first six games with Parkland before getting shutout on Sunday.
“He just adds depth. He’s a strong player and we’re leaning in him a lot and he’s doing really well,” Carefoot said.
The Rangers hit the road for two games this weekend against the Pembina Valley Hawks, Friday and Saturday in Morden.
The Hawks are currently third in the league with a 23-7-5-0 record. Their 51 points has them four points behind the Winnipeg Bruins.
The Rangers, Carefoot said, match up well with the Hawks. The two teams split a pair of games in Dauphin in early November.
“If we keep competing they way we have been the last five or six games, I think we’ll hang in there and who knows what will happen,” he said. “It’s just nice coming to the rink. The kids are smiling. Nobody really has a piano on their back right now.”
With nine games left to play, Parkland is 14 points out of a playoff spot. So, although they are not officially eliminated from the playoffs, their chances are slim, leaving them to play spoiler, something they are having fun with.
“I think this group is proving in most games we don’t quit. We just keep working. But just to go out and compete just for the spirit of the game, I think that’s what we’re focused on,” he said.