© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
The Weeks Major Midgets take part in their first practice after the holiday break on Thursday night at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. The team plays a pair of games this weekend against the Cape Breton West Islanders.
*Sunday's Weeks Major Midgets home game at the Pictou County Wellness Centre has been cancelled due to weather conditions.
Their effort is too sporadic and not consistent, but Weeks Major Midget head coach Dave MacIntyre said that isn’t the only issue for his team. He said their mental game is not where it needs to be.
“Your effort can be there, but if you think you can or if you think you can’t be successful, you’re right,” he said. “It’s a mental game and the team is struggling to have that confidence in themselves.”
In his fifth full season behind the bench of the Weeks Major Midgets, MacIntyre has yet to have a losing season, but this year has come with its fair share of challenges.
For the first time in the history of the program the team has 15 rookies, two of whom are goaltenders. He said having the younger team is part of why the team’s mental game isn’t where it is.
“This is the first year the organization has had 15 rookies on the team, so it kind of goes hand-in-hand,” he said. “Usually with our program we have eight rookies, at least three to four third-year guys and the rest are second-year so you have a good mixture. Last year losing those five guys that didn’t come back, means instead of three to four third-year guys, we have one. Instead of having your returning goalie you have two first-year goalies, which is unheard of.”
This is also the first year the Weeks squad is unable to draw from Antigonish due to changes in their jurisdictions.
“This is the first full year that we aren’t allowed to pick from Antigonish, so we’ve lost that whole region and there’s probably five or six guys playing for Cape Breton West that should be playing for us,” he said. “Having said that they have about six guys from Antigonish that played on their bantam team. If we had of stayed with the same jurisdictions and regions they’d be playing for us this year and they’re second-year midgets, which would’ve changed the whole outlook of our team.
“By no means am I making excuses, it’s just something else we’ve had to adjust to this season and will become accustomed to.”
At this point in the season MacIntyre said the he believes the excuse of being a rookie and new to the league isn’t allowable. He didn’t necessarily expect the team to finish atop the league standings, but hoped for better results.
“It’s not so much they can use the excuse of being rookies – I don’t agree with that now because we’re halfway through the season now,” he said. “At some point they have to take onus on themselves and basically what we’ve been preaching to them is you need to take onus on yourselves to get better too. We can’t physically put skates on for you and show you what you need to do. Other guys are doing it and if you aren’t then you aren’t progressing the way you should be.
“The second part of it is if they aren’t progressing the way they should be and you’re saying a lot of it’s mental, but in the same token if you don’t have the confidence, confidence goes a long way with the mental game in believing you can do something,” said MacIntyre. “Not to get off topic, but when in the past two years of your playing career were in bantam and you didn’t have the confidence to get those wins – that’s definitely not blaming anything on the bantam programs, by no means. I think both programs did very well, but the fact of the matter is, it is what it is. If you’re coming from a program where you’re not accustomed to winning – which the Weeks Major Midgets are accustomed to winning.
“It’s a huge shocker for me because I hate losing and it rots me to my core and I hate it, but at the same time I know what I’m dealing with and the fact of the matter we have 15 first-year guys on a midget AAA team.”
This weekend the Weeks Major Midgets play a home-and-home series against the Cape Breton West Islanders. The Weeks home game is Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. With the games remaining in the regular season MacIntyre knows the team won’t finish exactly where they wanted, but says the team should win at least five of their last eight games.
“Your goal is to win every game, but you need to be realistic and look at your schedule and say in the next eight games we feel we should win five,” he said. “If we win more than that it’s a bonus, but I think we should win five games. Anything can happen in the playoffs, but it’s a matter of having the confidence in the playoffs to steal a game here and there. The next thing you know you’re on a roll and you have the confidence going to make a run.”
Current record: 7-18-2