"We haven't been able to play a full 60 yet"

The Pioneers travelled to Edson to start their weekend against the Eagles. With a number of new additions to the team and an increasingly better performance against the Eagles with each match up, the boys from Gibbons were anxious to get going. Unfortunately, their on ice execution was not what it has been of late and Edson downed Gibbons 11-1. 

They were ready for redemption Saturday night against one of their toughest opponents from just down the road in Enoch. The Pioneers had a great start through a fairly even first period. Shots on net were 10-9 in favour of the Tomahawks but Gibbons was leading 2-1 after one due to two power play goals from Zago and Lovely. 

The Pioneers momentum died in the second as the Tomahawks scored 4 unanswered as Meric Larson couldn't seem to solve Bryant Joseph from Northern Alberta as he netted all 4 goals in the period including one with 8 seconds left in the frame. "All of Joseph's goals I want back. They were very easy, routine shots that I just missed and didn't track properly. We (as goaltenders) try to get dialled in so much, sometimes it just doesn't work or we let in a bad goal that could have easily been saved. That can bring you down so it's just focusing on the next shot and not worrying about the goals." In addition to the flurry of goals, the period was full of antics after the whistle and fans could get a sense of just how much these teams have it out for each other. 

Goals from Bishop and Lovely in the third were not enough for the Pioneers to crawl back and the Tomahawks took the final 8-4. The score didn't seem to reflect how tight the match up was as the Pioneers made things much harder on the home team than they have in games past. Duncan Gaunt relayed that the team is not satisfied with the outcome. "Definitely saw a more intense and realistic version of the Pioneers on Saturday (than Friday) but still not the outcome we had hoped for. Just based off the last couple of games, you can see that our inconsistency and our inability to play the full 60 minutes is what's holding us back from our next win. (Our opponents) are playing to win. That's how the Pioneers need to be playing every minute of the game." 

Coach agrees with Gaunt about playing a full game. "We definitely have had flashes of success. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to play a full 60 yet. That's part of the process. We are a relatively new team and we've added a bunch of guys before the deadline just after Christmas so with that it takes a bit of time to get the chemistry down. We are also in the first year of a rebuild. We knew it was going to take 2 to 3 years in order to develop the program that we want and where we want to be. At the beginning of the season, we were lucky to get 10 minutes a game of success whereas right now, we are between 30 and 45. Part of that is playing disciplined - which is not only out of the penalty box but keeping shifts short, doing the right things, showing up, doing the work, especially when no one is looking. Until we get to that point, we will still focus on microgoals. But I do believe we've definitely changed since September. When I look at the course of the season, there are a lot of successful moments. Unfortunately, we just don't see it in the standings yet."

When asked about how the team will get that next win, he says "it is all about work ethic and we have to outwork other teams. We are a team that doesn't have the flashiness or the skill therefore we have to grind. It is important that the guys understand that and continue to outwork teams and hopefully when we get to that 60 minute point where we are playing the whole game, I think the standings and the points will come." 

Despite not always getting the defensive support they need, the goaltenders are prepared to steal a few here for the Pioneers as Larson states, "Williams and I can only prepare so much for games but it's something we continue to work on to be better hockey players."

The Pioneers head on the road this weekend for two winnable games against Fox Creek on Friday and Slave Lake on Saturday. Check out both games on gmhl.tv at 7:30pm.