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Osoyoos Coyotes’ coach not worried after club drops both games on opening weekend
It wasn’t the start the Osoyoos Coyotes we’re looking for, but there’s no reason to worry says head coach Ken Law after the local squad dropped both games during the opening weekend of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) 2013-14 regular season.
The Coyotes ran into early penalty trouble and fell behind 2-0 early against the visiting Summerland Steam in the season opener Friday night at the Sun Bowl Arena.
The Coyotes didn’t generate many quality scoring chances all night and were shut out 4-0 by the Steam.
On Saturday night in Kelowna, the Coyotes created many more scoring chances, but fell 4-2 to the Chiefs.
The Coyotes hoped to pick up their first win of the season Wednesday night on home ice against the Princeton Posse.
“We have a really young squad and you could tell they were feeling their way around quite a bit,” said Law, who is also the team’s general manager. “We didn’t have a lot of guys going hard to the net for rebounds and second chances so we really addressed that in practice the last couple of days and hopefully it will lead to a lot more good scoring chances.”
The goaltending duo of Lawrence Langan and Garrett Storms each got a start on opening weekend with Langan playing very well against a solid and fast-skating Summerland squad, while Storms also played well in Kelowna, said Law.
“We still have to sort out who is going to be our No. 1 guy, but that will take care of itself in the next couple of weeks or so,” said Law. “We’re waiting for one guy to take charge.”
With so many rookies in the lineup Law said he wasn’t surprised many of them didn’t play as well as they had during the exhibition season and in training camp.
“A lot of our young guys simply weren’t used to getting hit every time they touched the puck,” he said. “They’re not used to getting hammered every time they turn around, but that’s something they’re going to have to learn by moving up to this level.
“The play is a lot faster and the players are a lot bigger than many of our young guys are used to playing against and I’m not surprised some of them had a tough time adjusting to that.”
Despite the rough start to the season, Law said he’s confident his team has more than enough talent to turn things around in a hurry.
“We’ll be looking to get into the win column against Princeton and hopefully that will give us a nice boost of confidence,” he said.
In Kelowna, the Chiefs scored six minutes into the game, but the Coyotes tied it up and scored the first goal of the season on a power-play marker by rookie Luc Gradisar, Jackson DeMatos and Michael Crawford added the assists.
Kelowna took a 2-1 lead in the first minute of the second period, but veteran Rory Neary tied it up halfway through the frame, with assists going to captain Colin Chmelka and Aaron Azvedo.
Kelowna scored another power-play goal late in the period to take a 3-2 lead and Jagger Bowles scored both second-period goals for the Chiefs.
Bowles completed his hat-trick and secured the victory by scoring six minutes into the third period.
The Coyotes play in Armstrong against the North Okanagan Knights Friday evening, before returning home Saturday night to host Kamloops.
Game time at the Sun Bowl Arena is 7:35 p.m.