Losing is hard.
That's especially true when you're a hockey team that hasn't won in a game in nearly two months, as is currently the case with the Fort Frances Lakers, who head into tonight's game against the host Thunder Bay North Stars mired in a 13-game losing streak.
The team last tasted victory back on Nov. 10—a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Iron Rangers at the Ice For Kids Arena here—and would like nothing more than to turn their fortunes around.
“It's tough. There's a lot of emotions flying around the room and they're definitely not all good,” Lakers' captain Julian Uhryniuk said about the difficulty of going through the losing streak following the team's 7-6 shootout loss to the Iron Rangers here last Wednesday night.
“There's a lot of frustration," he added. ”But you gotta really look to the positives and stay positive, and that's what we've been trying to do.
“You just gotta look up and dig your way out, and there's no way you're going to do that if you have your head down,” he reasoned.
As a leader on the team, Uhryniuk is doing his best to help his teammates keep an upbeat mood.
“I try to keep things positive and constructive, and if I see someone hanging their head, then I try to lift them up,” he remarked.
The Lakers were in Dryden to face the Ice Dogs for their past two games, with only one game having any positives coming from it.
On Monday night, the visiting Lakers were blown out 8-0 thanks, in large part, to a hat trick by Eric Stout.
Evan Walls and Jacen Bracko each added a pair of goals to pace the Ice Dogs' onslaught.
Lakers' goalie Brett Akins was yanked after allowing three first-period goals on just 15 shots.
He was relieved by Ismael Ralsten, who finished with 31 saves.
But on Saturday night, the Lakers managed to earn a point after Christian Ward tied the game at 3-3 at 9:13 of the third period.
After overtime solved nothing, Dryden scored on both of its shootout attempts while the Lakers failed to capitalize on theirs to suffer a 4-3 loss.
Lakers' head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan liked the way his team battled on Saturday, but felt like he didn't see that same effort in Monday night's loss.
“We battled and competed all night, and played somewhat desperate to have success,” he said about Saturday's game.
"Our special teams contributed, we were disciplined, and our goaltending gave us the chance to win.
“[On] Monday, we showed signs of the battle but not nearly enough,” Strachan added.
"Saturday, I was pleased with our game, however, on Monday we looked defeated, not into it, tired.
“I am not looking to make excuses but we have asked a lot of the guys since returning from the [Christmas] break,” Strachan noted.
"[But] the things that made us good on Saturday were not there last night [Monday], he conceded.
Strachan also noted just how tough it is for coaches and players alike to not be down on themselves amid a trying string of defeats the Lakers have suffered.
“It's very tough," he lamented. ”I don't think you will find one person involved with the team that is not disappointed or frustrated.
“We believe we are a better team than the results show," Strachan added. ”We [just] have to put everything together and respect the game.
“Right now, we need to believe that when we achieve and work hard for that win, it will be contagious and more will come with it.”
Heading down the stretch, Strachan would like to see the players adopt a more committed attitude to helping the team achieve success.
“[They need to] adhere to the team expectations and rules, come every day wanting to get better, and putting forth the effort necessary to have success,” he reasoned.
“Play for each other and become a tight-knit family, as well as believe and trust the coaching staff's philosophies and game plan,” Strachan added.
“It will help lead to success.”
After tonight's game in Thunder Bay, the Lakers will host the last-place Iron Rangers on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
Then they'll head there Saturday for a 7 p.m. game to cap the home-and-home series.