The Olds Grizzlys found themselves fighting a losing battle in two home contests last week against Alberta Junior Hockey League opponents. The hometown team lost against one of the best teams in the league, the Brooks Bandits, 4-2 on Saturday, while they also dropped an 8-2 decision to the Calgary Mustangs on Thursday.
The Bandits are tied for first overall with the Spruce Grove Saints.
The two losses leave the Grizzlys in fifth place in the south division, five points back of the Okotoks Oilers.
In the game Saturday, the Grizzlys spotted the Bandits three goals in the first period, including a power-play marker off the stick of Mark Renners, who ended the game with a hat trick. The Bandits dominated on the shot clock, firing 15 shots at Grizzlys netminder Brandon Thiessen, while the Grizzlys could only manage four shots on Jan Obernesser.
In the second period, the Grizzlys found their game, getting two power-play markers from Tanner Sather and Brandon Clowes. Renners rounded out the game's scoring, completing the hat trick.
Following the game, Kevin Willison, the Grizzlys head coach, said the team played much better Saturday than the effort that they gave on Thursday.
“I thought they were a totally different team (on Saturday). These guys have to believe they can play with the best teams in the league. The thing is, we're probably not at the same skill level as (the Bandits), so we have to find ways to be successful and I think the last two periods basically showed you that (if) we just finish our checks … good things happen,” he said.
While Willison said getting down three hurt the Grizzlys, they managed to show they weren't going down without a fight. That effort should prove beneficial when the Bandits come all the way back to the Olds Sports Complex for a 7:30 p.m. contest tonight.
While there was no scoring in the third period, several Grizzlys managed to hit the game sheet for the wrong reasons, with four separate Grizzlys being assessed misconduct penalties. Willison said he hopes that trend won't continue.
“We talk about it all the time. If they basically can't control their emotions a little bit better, then I guess at the end of the day they're going to find themselves up in the stands watching or we're going to find somebody else who can play the same way but handle that emotion (better),” he said.
In Thursday's game, the Grizzlys managed to stay with the Mustangs for a period and a half with the teams tied at 2-2, before the Mustangs struck for six unanswered goals. Three of the last six goals allowed were scored while the Grizzlys were killing a penalty.
"We talk about it all the time. If they basically can't control their emotions a little bit better, then I guess at the end of the day they're going to find themselves up in the stands watching."Kevin Willison, head coach, Olds Grizzlys