Players on Ponoka’s Midget Fountain Tire Wolves are looking at a season that will test their determination and skills.
Coach Dwayne Rausch said their Saturday, Nov. 14 game at home against the Rocky Royals was a good indication of the challenges the team will face this year.
Ponoka lost 2-5 against the Royals in their fifth regular season game. “We’re just trying to get everyone on the same page,” said Rausch.
The coaching team is working closely with players to develop a uniform strategy and while Rausch is confident in his players’ abilities, he says practice will hone their skills to play against a tough tier 2 league.
“These guys have all played at a level to compete just on individual talent,” said Rausch.
Inidividual talent is not enough with the rest of the league, says Rausch, a situation which is forcing the Wolves to use every player on the ice. Athletes are making strong plays but are not able to complete them and convert shots into goals. “The last two games on the weekend we out-chanced the other teams.”
He feels their biggest strength right now is in the goaltending.
“It’s a mental thing. If you don’t practice it in a real disciplined way, it just doesn’t happen,” explained Rausch of the team’s challenge.
Ponoka was down 1-0 at the start of the second period but managed to score during a power play by Braeden Korchinski with three minutes left, however, the Royals did not give up and scored a second goal with 40 seconds left. It was in the third period that things fell apart for the Wolves.
The Royals were held for the first portion of the third period but scored three goals towards the end. Ponoka did not give up and managed a second goal by Cooper Jones with 17 seconds left.
Unforced errors helped give the Royals a further goal advantage, which Rausch says is the area he wants to improve with his players. “You take that out and we’ve got a one-goal hockey game.”
Rausch feels the players will continue to make improvements because of the level of skill in this tier. “The league isn’t going to come down to our level of play.”
“It always seems to be two steps forward and one step back,” he suggested.
Rausch said the team is sitting with a relatively even number of first, second and third year players.
Wolves face off against RCMP
The Fountain Tire Wolves and RCMP members from the central Alberta team will face off in a fun exhibition game intended to raise money for KidSport Ponoka.
The game is set for Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7:45 p.m. at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex. Advance tickets can be purchased for $2 or at the door for $3.