More than a month into the season, Airdrie’s two AAA minor hockey teams are struggling to put points on the board.
The CFR Chemical Bisons is still looking for its first win of the campaign, currently sitting bottom of the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League’s South Division with a 0-7-1 record. Defence has proven the main issue, with the team allowing 31 goals in its eight games. At the other end of the rink, the team has generated 16 goals.
“The obvious frustration that comes with losing is there, but the kids are still working towards making it better," said head coach Dustin Taylor.
With a crop of mostly new players, Taylor said teaching the athletes the Bisons' foundation and preferred style of play has taken time.
“We have 18 new faces who haven’t seen this level before, and aren’t used to how we run this program," he said.
"Our players are thinking too much, as opposed to playing with habit. When you think too much at this level, it usually costs you that half-second of time. We’re working towards building habits with the players, so they don’t have to think and it becomes a habitual thing.”
The team's only point, as of Oct. 30, came in a 3-3 draw Oct. 6 with the Calgary Buffaloes. Since then, Airdrie has suffered a six-game losing skid.
“We can see really good things our players are doing, and they’re learning and understanding what it is we want," Taylor said. "Now, they just need to go perform and execute. We’re kind of on that next phase, in terms of their execution. I believe there is going to be some turn-around.”
The Bisons will look to shake the early-season slump Nov. 2 with a road battle against the Buffaloes.
“No question, the Buffs are a high-skilled team," Taylor said. "They have a high-octane offence and know how to score goals. But I think with us having success in the form of a tie against them last game, it gives our guys some confidence going into it. No question, we’re going to have to be prepared going up against them.”
The Xtreme is in a similar, but slightly better, situation, with just two wins in its first 10 games in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League. The AAA bantam team’s most recent game on Oct. 27 was positive, however – Airdrie defeated the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers 4-2.
Despite being out-scored 38-24, Airdrie's record puts it in second place of the AMBHL's Ram South Division. The Xtreme is equal on points with the SEAC Tigers, but has a better overall goal-differential.
The Airdrie team, now boasting a 2-6-2 record, will look to repeat the positive performance against the Rangers Nov. 2 and 3, with games against the Lethbridge Golden Hawks and Okotoks Oilers at the Ron Ebbesen Arena. Puck-drops are scheduled for 4:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively.