It was a tough end of week for the Quesnel Millionaires junior A hockey team that ended with a 4-0 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday night.
Saturday’s loss came on the heels of a 4-3 loss Friday to the Vernon Vipers and an 8-2 loss to the Smoke Eaters Thursday night.
“We didn’t match up against them very well,” Millionaires coach Doug Hedley said.
“It’s disappointing, we could have won two out of three.”
Trail, despite playing their third road game in as many nights came out blazing, showing plenty of speed that kept the Mills on their heels for much of the period.
Defensively the Smoke Eaters clogged up the middle and made it hard for the Mills to get anything going, limiting the Mills to just eight shots in the period.
The Smoke Eaters got all the offence they needed late in the first period following a turnover deep in the Millionaires zone that ended up on the stick of Dylan Tappe who made no mistake from in close, roofing the puck passed Mills netminder Bryton Udy on the stick side.
Down 1-0, the Mills built some momentum in the second period, including a breakaway by Chris Blessing who couldn’t stuff the puck under the right pad of Trail netminder Matt Larose.
Although the Mills outshot Trail 13-11 in the period they came up empty-handed on the scoresheet, whereas the visitors added goals by Cullen Bradshaw, thanks to some weak backchecking and Ryan Luiten on a 2-on-1 rush, to take a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Trail added a powerplay goal by Nic DeSousa in the third period to round out the scoring.
The Mills did turn up their intensity a notch in the third period, outshooting Trail 14-7, but again came up empty-handed as Larose stood on his head to preserve the shutout for the Smoke Eaters.
Udy made 30 of 34 saves in the loss.
In the three games, the Mills scored just one powerplay goal in 16 opportunities, whereas the opposition scored six powerplay goals in 17 opportunities.
“We have good puck movement,” Hedley said.
“But there are some guys we look to, to make the big play when we need them and it isn’t happening right now,” he explained.
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Still without a win in 2011, the Mills currently sit in seventh place in the BCHL interior conference standings with 28 points, six ahead of the Prince George Spruce Kings.
With the playoffs just a month away, the Mills coaching staff are looking to refocus their players for a strong finish that will hopefully carry into the playoffs.
But Hedley admitted the current six-game winless streak wears on the confidence of his players.
“We have to start believing in each other,” he said.
“We have 14 games left and we’re going to work as hard as we can to be above .500 for those games.”
The Mills hit the road Wednesday for a game against the Silverbacks in Salmon Arm Jan. 19, the prepare for a pair of home games against the Merritt Centennials Friday and Sunday.
Millionaires still winless in 2011