The last time Olds won a game was Jan. 22 in Camrose. Since then, 15 more have passed by with only a single point to show for it.
“I got called up to the team a couple years ago when they were going through a slump like this. I played a couple games in it but I’ve never experienced a slump like this before. It just seems like it’s not going our way and it has to eventually, I guess,” said Cale Brown, one of the veterans on the team.
With each passing date on the schedule you find yourself asking, is tonight the night?
On Saturday, it should have been, with the visiting Calgary Mustangs, the odd team out of the AJHL playoffs in the South division.
The Grizzlys held a 3-2 lead late in the second period thanks to a goal by Austin Holmes. However, the Mustangs responded just over a minute later to tie the game before intermission.
A third-period goal from the Mustangs’ Bryan Huck wound up being the difference in the 4-3 loss.
Olds outshot Calgary 42-36 and head coach Dana Lattery said they deserved a better result.
“We were tenacious on the puck, our forecheck was good, we were strong through the middle of the ice. Chapman came in after Ben (Giesbrecht) got hurt and played phenomenal. We dominated the game. We had puck possession, we just couldn’t buy a goal,” he said.
Lattery said the players haven’t quit. He credits the captains for upholding team morale.
“They’ve built a culture in there and through this stretch, you wouldn’t even know we were on a losing streak. The energy they bring into practice. They wake up, they renew themselves, they come back another day. Another day, they have an opportunity to win. That tells you they have confidence, they believe in themselves,” he said.
“It has to come. It can’t not come.”
But wins won’t come any easier, with Lattery disclosing that injured top-line centreman Landon Kletke and defenceman Austin Pickford will likely miss the rest of the season.
When Brown recalls the losing streak he stepped into as a call-up, he remembers the team eventually found fortune’s favour.
“The game we won to get out of the slump, we scored off someone’s face to win the game, kind of thing,” he said. “It’s going to be a grind, it’s going to be a lucky bounce, it’s going to have to start going our way.”
The bigger picture here is that the Grizzlys have made the playoffs, even with their current 16-38-3 record. They will face the Camrose Kodiaks in the first round.
“When it’s a new season as the playoffs are, we can erase this losing streak and … just play some playoff hockey,” Lattery said.
The Grizzlys are in Canmore and perhaps the losing ends tonight. Or maybe on Friday, when they host the Oilers. Or, the next night, when they close the regular season against the Calgary Canucks. Because at some point, it will – this season or the next.
“It’s going to be a grind, it’s going to be a lucky bounce, it’s going to have to start going our way.” CALE BROWN