The Wheatland Kings had a scary October, and it wasn't just because of Halloween. The month saw them endure a nine game losing streak under previous Head Coach Ron West. Knowing a change had to be made, the Kings welcomed in Doug Raycroft to be the new head coach last week!
After battling the undefeated Okotoks Carstar Bisons in a tough 2-0 loss, they broke the losing streak with a definitive 6-2 win over the Coledale Copperheads on Sunday. While Raycroft is very new with the team, he already has a vision for what he wants the team to look like and has big goals.
"We've got a young talented team, so we want to get consistent. I think we've been pretty inconsistent so far. I think the biggest thing for us is playing hard and playing a certain way all the time. That's the first thing we want to work on, and our goal is to challenge for the league championship. Right now that seems lofty because we're one of the lower teams in the league, but we feel like we can compete with some of those up top teams."
If the Kings are going to reach the goals Raycroft set, he knows it'll take a lot of work and development, He mentioned the league is very talented, and you have to show up for every game or else you'll lose. It's not just consistency though, he said the team has to learn how to play as a unit, rather than as individuals.
"We just need to get better and build as a team. I think that's a big thing we need to work on, we have a lot of kids who are talented but playing together, playing as a system is what we need to build each time we're on the ice."
Building up to that point won't be easy, but Raycroft has a plan. He explained the losing streak caused frustration and the feeling that the team couldn't win, but simplifying the game plan and having the team execute was just what they needed to get out of that slump. As they continue to work with a simpler game plan and build confidence up, Raycroft believes this will lead to more wins, which will then in turn have the team feeling good enough to go back to more complex plans.
"Nine in a row is a lot, a lot of losses in a row, right? So you start to believe that you can't win a match, so you really need to just sort of take a step back and break the game down a little bit, so that's what we did with the kids this weekend. We just broke it down it and simplified it a little bit. Moving forward, as we get going if we get more consistent then we can add more things to it."
Raycroft added he knows they won't win every game, but going back to the fundamentals gives the team something to build off of and improve in every week. So long as the team can pinpoint where they need to improve after a loss, the structure can be there to get the team putting together a win streak. As the team and Raycroft get to know each other better, Raycroft said he wants the team's identity to be a tough out for anybody that plays solid fundamentals.
"I think we can skate with any team, so we want to be a hard team to play against, so that's the identity we want to have this. We're fast and as we get going more, we want to be a team that moves the puck lots. That's going to be our identity, a fast team that moves the puck well, and hopefully, that translates into some success for us."
The Kings will look to make it two wins in a row when they travel to High River to take on the Flyers on Friday, before hosting the Mountain View Colts on Saturday at 8:00 PM.