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Grizzlys' skid hits six games

The Olds Grizzlys lost three games last week, extending their current losing streak to six games.

The Olds Grizzlys lost three games last week, extending their current losing streak to six games.

The Grizzlys opened the week with a 3-2 loss to the Okotoks Oilers, followed by a 5-2 loss to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Friday and a 7-3 loss to the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Saturday. All the games last week were on the road.

The losses now give the Grizzlys a 5-11-0-0 record, tying them for sixth in the Alberta Junior Hockey League's south division with the Drumheller Dragons, two points back of the Calgary Canucks.

Coach Kevin Willison said injuries to key players such as goaltender Brandon Thiessen (ankle), Craig Gans (broken hand) and Brendan Algeo suffering from mononucleosis, have taken their toll from the outset of the season.

“We were put in a situation right from the beginning of the year where all of our rookies got thrown into some big-time minutes due to injuries and sickness…. We were certainly thrown back … and I think with all the enthusiasm and everything of these young kids coming in and doing a good job for the first five, 10 games, now it's kind of caught up with them,” he said.

While Willison said the young players on the roster can't be blamed for the team's lack of success recently, he said special teams must get better if the Grizzlys expect to turn their fortunes around. The Grizzlys gave up six powerplay goals on 18 opportunities against during the week while they only scored one powerplay goal during the three games on 16 tries.

“The guys have to understand that they have to sacrifice a bit more when it comes to (penalty killing). (On the) powerplay, it's just a matter of execution and taking advantage of the opportunities that are given to us and we haven't been doing that,” he said.

During the loss to the Oil Barons, defenceman Chris Stachiw and Oil Barons defenceman Mike Green were both suspended for a game each for engaging in a fight while one was already in progress. As a result, Stachiw sat out the Grizzlys' Saturday contest against the Pontiacs.

The Grizzlys also made a couple of roster moves last week, picking up Scott Antonsen on Wednesday from the Drayton Valley Thunder while the same day they shipped Brett Pintz to the Oil Barons for future considerations. Willison said the moves were made in order to pick up some experience and help out the younger players.

“We thought that we would need maybe a 20-year-old veteran (but) certainly it's no easy decision on who you're going to ship out of here that will make that happen. We decided to move (Prinz) to Fort Mac and bring in Scott Antonsen,” he said.

Antonsen brings with him a lot of energy and experience. He also has good skating ability, vision on the ice and Willison hopes he can help the Grizzlys in the face-off circle.

“Hopefully his veteran leadership will help us get through this little hurdle that we gotta get over,” he said.

Next up for the Grizzlys is a 7:30 p.m. start tonight at the Olds Sports Complex against the Calgary Mustangs.

"The guys have to understand that they have to sacrifice a bit more when it comes to (penalty killing). (On the) powerplay, it's just a matter of execution and taking advantage of the opportunities."Kevin Willison, head coach, Olds Grizzlys