Highly-touted Xtreme still looking for answers
Thursday, Oct 05, 2017 10:58 am
Despite jumping out to a decent 3-1-2 record to open the 2017-18 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League season, Airdrie Xtreme head coach Dave Millard said the team is lagging behind on expectations for the season.
Coming into the season, the Xtreme was anticipated to be one of the more competitive teams in the league. The roster is packed with relatively experienced and highly touted prospects, but has failed to impress thus far.
“We’re not playing very well as a team right now,” Millard said. “We’re getting some good individual efforts, but I don’t feel that we’ve played a complete team game yet.”
With an offence that was expected to score at will, the Xtreme have had problems finding the back of the net, averaging 2.67 goals per game in its first six games.
“We’re getting opportunities just not burying it,” Millard said. “Once we start burying some of those opportunities it will put a little less pressure on us.”
According to Millard, the team’s offence will get a boost with second-year forward Ty Mueller returning to the lineup after sustaining a wrist injury earlier this year.
Mueller played in the Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 games, earning an assist in his return weekend. Millard said Mueller’s presence is a welcome addition but the 14-year-old has some rust to shake off.
“He’s going to be one of the best centremen in the whole league, so it’s nice to have him back,” Millard said. “You can see he thinks the game very well and can be a star.”
The Xtreme kicked off the season with three-straight wins before settling for two ties, then suffering its only setback Oct. 1 when it dropped a 3-1 decision to the Lethbridge Val Matteoti Golden Hawks at Ron Ebbesen Arena.
At 3-1-2 the Xtreme currently sit second in the Ram South Division, two points behind the Red Deer Rebels.
“Winning those ugly games is a lot better than losing them,” Millard said. “We’ll take the points while we can get them because they all add up at the end.”
With 17 of the team’s 19 players in their second bantam hockey season, Millard said the experience and the leadership should put the team on the right track soon.
“You hope it would have started by now,” he said. “We’re trying to get there, we’re working with them on getting there. We just need to get everybody on the same page and working as a unit out there instead of five individuals.”
Millard added he was hoping the team would be clicking by this point and will have to soon if it hopes to make a run at the AMBHL Championship.
The Xtreme get another chance to improve Oct. 11, taking on the Bisons in Calgary.