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Steelheads look for new habits heading into 2014

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The Steelheads just couldn’t finish the home-at-home with the Barrie Colts. It was close and would've been a nice addition to the end of the year.

Riding a 4-3 win over the Colts in Barrie, the fish returned home only to lose 5-3 to the same boys, even though the Colts are missing their top defenseman Aaron Ekblad. This contributed to their lowly home record and finishing the last four home games 1-3. However, this was their first home game since Dec. 13, but surely fans were hoping they would surprise with a big win.

With a win-loss record of 15-19, they wanted to finish the year with a .500 record heading into 2014. They had a decent lead over the Peterborugh Petes, but are now only two points away from the fish’s sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and they have a game in hand.

They have more troubles chasing the fifth place North Bay Battalion who are four points ahead and it didn’t help losing to them on Dec. 8 and 19 in North Bay –both 3-2 losses. They are losing the important rivalry games.

A reoccurring issue of these losses are the shots on goal: too many on the Steelheads net and not enough going the other way.

In Steelheads’ Spencer Martin last five games he faced an average of 33 shots, conceding 22 goals which is average of 4.4 goals. Martin is already 86% to his save total from last year playing 36 games compared to his 2012-13 total of 46, but the worst part is that he already conceded 127 goals compared to his 2012-13 total of 126 with only 10 games more than the current season.

This is not his fault since the Colorado Avalanche prospect has times of brilliance with a mature outlook to the position, but a non-supportive defence is letting his fatigue kick in.

On New Years Eve, the fish face the Kingston Frontenacs, a high-powered offence who have the ability to challenge them with over 40 shots. Last time the fish fought the Fronts was in Kingston on Nov. 24 losing 7-5 with 41 shots on Martin. If history repeats itself, the Steelheads might need the help of backup goalie Dawson Carty just in case Martin sees to many shots. But, this is also a time we can see Martin’s brilliance.

Right now, any win in the conference is an important win, and if they can fix certain holes and finish the season either in fifth or fourth, the opportunity to play Barrie or North Bay in the first round will help them adapt to the playoff atmosphere with a possible series win.

Defenseman and Carolina Hurricanes prospect, Trevor Carrick, has offensively helped this club with 15 goals and 30 points in 38 games. He continues to grow as a team leader and a good example of the club’s development program. It’s just unfortunate that a defenseman is the team’s point leader, no matter if they are in the playoffs or not.

After a first half reflection, we will see what Head Coach, James Boyd, is preparing for the rest of the season. I imagine the future is more important for Boyd than the rough race to the championship, or even a successful playoff run.

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