Month long slide putting playoffs in jeopardy for Ice Hawks

Seven losses in last nine games, including 4-2 setback to the Sockeyes

Steve Robinson has had a different view of his junior hockey team for the past week and it wasn’t pretty.

The Delta Ice Hawks GM and head coach concluded a three-game suspension Tuesday night from the Ladner Leisure Centre stands, watching a 4-2 defeat to the Richmond Sockeyes. It was the Hawks’ seventh loss in nine games — their worst stretch in the last three years that is putting a playoff spot in serious jeopardy.

Delta sits in fifth place with a 12-12-3-2 record in the PJHL’s Tom Shaw Conference, six points back of the second-year White Rock Whalers that have won each of the three head-to-head meetings so far. 

The Hawks’ best hope is a potential CFL-like cross-over for the final spot in the Harold Brittain Conference and that is hardly certain with the Aldergrove Kodiaks one point behind them with two games in hand.

“When we were 10-5 I thought we legitimately had a shot at catching those teams ahead of us for second place, especially if we won the head-to-head games. It’s basically a pipe dream now,” sighed Robinson. 

“I’m having a hard time quantifying what is going on. I feel I have been nothing but negative all year (in trying to challenge) these guys if you know what I mean. Even I am getting tired of hearing myself.

“Watching our execution of the power play at the end there and it was horrendous. Just the fact we have done that like 40 times in practice and your guys are that poor in their execution. Everything we do is random. We don’t follow a script at all.”

The Hawks were busy playing catch-up for much of the night after surrendering goals to Ryan Watson and Mattias Hohlweg. They did get to even terms on captain Mark Epshtein’s second of the game at the 6:11 mark of the third period. However, Richmond answered just 17 seconds later on a goal by former Hawk Michael Araki-Young. South Delta native Garrett Wicks then added a power play insurance goal for the visitors. It came after a careless penalty 200-feet away from the Delta net.

“I thought we had a decent start for three or four minutes tonight and then nothing,” continued Robinson. “We had 18 turnovers in the first period alone. As soon as we have one thing go wrong we seem to be fragile, hesitant and tentative. Hesitation is death. You are better off playing balls out with pressure and energy.”

Robinson did make a pair of trades a couple of weeks ago to try to ignite his team. He has three player cards remaining prior to the early January roster deadline but significant changes aren’t coming. 

The bigger picture also suggests looking at this group beyond this season with the Hawks likely hosting the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and needing a championship calibre roster to compete in the four-team tournament. They are no where near the level they will need to be at right now.

“How much can you really tinker at this point,” added Robinson. “The body of work gets to a certain point where you are what you are and it’s tough to watch right now.”

The Hawks should get back in the win column tonight in Surrey against the Knights (0-27-0-3) and also travel to Grandview Sunday before hosting Mission next Tuesday (7:35 p.m.) in their final game before the Christmas break.

© Delta Optimist