KAMLOOPS — Twenty-seven goals against through five games.
It's the most against in the Western Hockey League and not the recipe to win hockey games — and the Blazers haven't — at 0-5 and looking for answers early in the year.
"It's a really hard league to play in as far as checking and playing defense, and I think when we're giving up that many goals a game, it's pretty hard to win," said 20-year-old defenseman. "We're really focused on our checking and making sure we know our assignments. We can't have those bad breakdowns at bad times in the game."
The Blazers have yet to lead in any games this season. In each of the first five losses, there have been lapses that have led to quick goals by the opposition.
Four goals in a period twice by Kelowna. That was the difference in each of the games. In langely, three in the first and they never recovered. In the second game in victoria on Sunday, three in the third, the difference in a 6-3 Royals win.
"We haven't played good enough," said head coach Don Hay. "You have to play better if you want to have success in this league. There are areas of our game that aren't good enough."
Gatenby noted it's not enough to say the Blazers simply have a young team. He said they're winless for reasons beyond youth.
"We can't make excuses. It's not good enough, even with a young group," he said. We can definitely be better, and I think we've had stretches where we've played really well and we've been in games. We've been right there until the end, and then we have these lapses where we give up two or three really quick. That's just not how you win hockey games."
With a young group, the Blazers are learning how to work, play the game the right way, and also be able to overcome adversity, as simply as bouncing back after a goal against.
"When you get down a couple goals, one goal, you've got to bounce back the next shift really well, and you can't have it where the guys lose that belief," said Gatenby. "We've got to keep pushing through, and keeping that energy and not having those letdowns where they spiral and one mistake turns into another mistake."
For Hay, the most concerning part of an 0-5 start is the team's compete — or lack thereof.
"We have to compete for 60 minutes," he stressed. "We've shown that we've done it for 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 59 minutes. But we haven't done it for a full 60 minutes."
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