The Delta Ice Hawks are hoping to get rewarded for their hard work as soon as Tuesday night.
After a dominant three-year run, the Hawks find themselves in unfamiliar territory as one of just two teams in the Pacific Junior Hockey League still in search of their first win. They fell to 0-2-0-1 on the campaign with a frustrating 3-2 overtime loss to the Abbotsford Pilots.
Delta generated 43 shots and missed three glorious chances in the extra periods to crack the win column. Instead, the locals will try again when the Port Moody Panthers are in town at 7:35 p.m.
With a line-up that can feature as many as 13 rookies, GM and head coach Steve Robinson has used a valuable week off to work on some key areas before commencing on a three-games in five-night stretch.
“We have the opportunity for our first couple of video sessions of season. It gives us a chance to work on a few things,” said Robinson. “I have seen progression over the three games. It’s just keeping the belief strong and knowing we are on the right track and really not that far away from getting a victory and feeling good about our game.”
What the standings don’t show is a team that is keeping its work rate high on every shift — something that was lacking at times last season. The Hawks were good enough to win a lot of games on their talent alone but it finally caught up with them with a sloppy five-game loss in the semi-finals to Langley.
Robinson was willing to keep some of the veteran core intact until fourth-year forward and top goal scorer Alex Suprynowicz requested a trade to North Vancouver. Two more deals followed, leaving Mark Epshtein as the only player to finish among the top 10 in team scoring.
The captain had both goals against Abbotsford. The club will also receive a boast when second-year import Jihwan Kim gets his paper work cleared up to make his season debut. He was impressive in the post-season a year ago.
“Just little mistakes at the wrong time and squeezing the stick a little hard when we are trying to get goals,” continued Robinson. “The group is together and the personality of the team is solid. Everybody is pulling on the right end of the rope and it’s hard when you are not getting the results. But it’s early and there is no need to panic. You just need to keep sticking with it.
“It is just kind of figuring things out and you know with a lot of young guys on the team you are going to go through some bumps along the way. Whether it happens now or later. it’s inevitable it was going to happen. We just have to try and find the silver linings and grow our game.”
The Hawks also visit Langley on Wednesday and Mission on Saturday.