“It’s been a tough stretch,” said Jason McKee, head coach of the Vancouver Giants. He isn’t just talking about their three recent losses to Victoria, but of one of the major factors behind it – missing players.
The Giants have spent the last two weeks plus being hammered by both illness and injury.
Players including Matt Barberis, Bailey Dhaliwal, Dylan Plouffe, and Bartek Bison have been on the injured list of late. Meanwhile team stalwarts like Ty Ronning and Tyler Popowich have been knocked out of the lineup due to illness.
“We’re obviously hoping to get a couple guys back for the weekend,” said McKee. “Hopefully we can get some of our veteran guys back.”
The Giants have a respite this week, with three practice days to get ready, to integrate their new trades more thoroughly into the team, and to bring their younger players up to speed to fill the remaining gaps.
The three back to back losses to Victoria have left McKee with a laundry list of areas the team needs to work on.
“If we eliminate the small mistakes and stay in the fight, that’s what we’re looking to do,” McKee said.
The younger players – it’s currently a very young roster, McKee notes – have had more playing time and will improve.
“We’ve got to get everyone back on the same page,” he said.
Against Victoria, he said it wasn’t what Victoria was doing, but what Vancouver wasn’t doing that was the team’s downfall.
There are some bright spots, including two newcomers to the team. Calvin Spencer, all 6’1”, 223 lbs of him, will act as a power forward and bring his size to battles for the puck, said McKee. Californian Brayden Watts has the ability to stick to the puck, McKee said.
“We’re hoping for health, but if not, you move forward,” McKee said of the upcoming Feb. 3 home game against the Calgary Hitmen.