Osoyoos Coyotes are on break, scattered to the wind, and thinking Christmas rather than hockey as the holiday approaches — that 10-day break coming at just the right time.
The Yotes (12-15-2) dropped a close 2-1 decision at Sun Bowl Arena Saturday evening to the 100 Mile House Wranglers — their fourth loss in seven games, all of them coming in back-to-back meetings with the Kelowna Chiefs and Wranglers.
“We’ll take from now until Boxing Day off,” said Coyotes head coach Mark Chase. “We have ice to practice on on Boxing Day and then we have ice in Kamloops to practice on Thursday and then we play (Dec. 28-29), both afternoon games.
The Coyotes return from the break to participate in the league-wide College Showcase, playing the Castlegar Rebels (9-18-1-2) on the Friday at 2 p.m. and Kimberley Dynamiters (25-4-0-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“I’m hoping that when it comes to the Showcase, we’ll get all the guys back and then feel the rhythm again.”
One of those players is Bryson Rody, who sat out Saturday’s game — though watching from the stands — after being rushed to hospital Friday evening following a hit from behind. He was treated for whiplash and released early Saturday morning.
His presence was missed Saturday.
“One of our objectives each game is to win the special teams battle,” said Chase. “Clearly we did not.”
Chase added his club was frustrated by Wranglers’ penalty-killing practice skating loose pucks to the boards and tying them up.
“They frustrated the heck out of us because they’re big bodies and they get in there and all lean on the puck and we had an inability to get pucks loose and keep it moving.”
The Yotes were zero-for-10 on the powerplay and allowed a short-handed goal as well.
“To cough the puck up behind your own net on the powerplay, there goes your ability to win the special teams battle,” said Chase.
Blake Astorino scored the lone Coyote goal Saturday evening, his marker coming late in the game after the Wranglers had taken a 2-0 lead on a pair of Garrett Hilton scores.
There was no scoring in either the first or second period.
Bailey Monteith provided a stellar performance for the Coyotes, stopping 29 of 31 shots.
“He’s a good goaltender. He’ll be a Junior A goaltender at 18,” said Chase. “Next year, when he comes back, the keys are his. When Bailey gets his opportunity, he’s going to make the most of it.”
Chase said spirits remain high despite the most recent two-game losing streak and the Yotes look to expand their success in the new year.
“We’ve come a long way and left that where it is, in the past,” he said of the team’s early-season collapse.
“Maybe they’re ready for a break because family is in town and Christmas is just around the corner, but I didn’t get the sense they’re tired and ready to go home.”