The first two games of the second round saw the Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks score first both games, but get the losing result to the North Peace Navigators.
While wins or losses don’t always quantify effort, head coach Gene Cooper has seen a definite change in the team since the first two games.
“It’s gotten stronger as we’ve come along in the series. The overall team play, buying into the system on what we’ve got do, that’s changed after game two,” he says.
In particular, the defensive play of the team — they’re playing hard at both ends of the ice.
“The guys have realized we have to work on shorter shifts, we have to work on pucks on the net, and get lots of traffic in front of the goalie,” explains Cooper.
“And in saying that, we have to think defensively, ensure that their quality of shots are low, so we set our goal to keep their shots below 30, and we’ve been very close to meeting that goal.”
In game three, the Canucks held the Navs to just 23 shots. From games three to five, the worst they’ve allowed is 35 shots, and from the offensive standpoint, have been routinely putting up 40-plus shots per game.
Part of the success has been the varied contributors on the scoresheet. Saturday’s thrilling 6-5 overtime result saw 12 different Canucks log a point.
“The boys are ready, they’ve turned a page after game two, and they’re all in,” says Cooper. “We have to continue to focus on that to be successful.”