It was a weekend of highs and lows for the Nova Major Bantams, on Jan. 19 and 20.
“We were pretty good against a team we struggled with in two previous games,” head coach Mike Stewart said, describing Saturday’s home game against the Dartmouth Whalers.
“We wanted to come out and show that we made some significant improvements over the season and get a momentum boost going, as we go into the last 10 games of the season.”
Stewart said the team accomplished that goal on Saturday, “and I’m happy with the overall result.”
That boost manifested on Jan. 19, with the Novas capitalizing on their speedy skating, securing a 4-1 victory over Dartmouth.
Tyler Peddle scored the first and last goal that secured the Nova’s victory, with the former finding the back of the net on an assist from Benjamin Kennedy, 14 minutes into the first period, and the latter put into the net on an assist from Kevin Walker.
Liam Berhtiaume and Cody MacDougall each scored a goal apiece early in the game, securing and maintaining a first-period lead that was unbroken for the rest of the game.
Stewart noted both teams were competitive, and that was due to there being “a lot of parity in the league, especially among the middle-of-the-pack-teams.”
“On any given day, any team can beat any team, especially with where we’re at in the standings,” Stewart said.
The way to take advantage, he noted, was playing a solid game at a fast pace. This, he added, entails fast skating and keeping the puck constantly moving.
“We were up against a physical team, and we’re a young team, so we struggle against more physical teams,” Stewart said. “We wanted to play hard and fast. We wanted to play our type of hockey, not theirs.”
“Can’t say the same about the next day,” Stewart added.
The following day, the Novas emerged from a game against the Wear Well Bombers worse for the wear with a 5-2 loss.
Stewart said the Novas suffered on account of, “our biggest Achilles heel, consistency.”
Stewart was blunt in his assessment of Sunday’s game: “I don’t think either team played very well, but we didn’t seem to want the puck.”
The loss tied the Novas, in league standings, with a team they have played earlier in the season and beaten.
“At this stage of the game, the kids have to know what to do. They have lots of opportunities to hone their craft at practices and skill sessions. They have to get ready and play,” Stewart said.
Stewart noted it’s a learning experience for the team, in the importance of playing a consistent game, and playing up their strengths on the ice.
“We’re learning tough lessons, unfortunately late in the year, and it’s time to have learned all our lessons.”
As the season winds down, Stewart is certain consistency will be crucial, when going into the late season, in securing a berth in the playoffs.
“We will be going hard and fast, and consistently,” Stewart said, anticipating future games in the season.