And so wraps up the first half of the season.
The Hitmen ended a three-in-three weekend with a 6-4 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes Sunday afternoon to end the first half of the season with a 15-15-3-1 mark.
After a slow 0-5-1 start to the season, things have picked up drastically as the head into the break.
“A month ago things looked bleak,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “It was exactly 15 games ago that as a team we had enough of good efforts with no results and I credit the guys for sticking with it and fighting back.
“We’ve pushed hard to get back to this point. It’s been a substantial climb and there’s a lot to have confidence from.”
Mark Kastelic, Bryce Bader, Kaden Elder and Riley Stotts all scored for the Hitmen, while Jack McNaughton made 20 saves as he appeared in all three games this weekend.
Jordy Bellerive scored a pair of goals for the Hurricanes with Taylor Ross, Dylan Cozens, Ty Prefontaine and Logan Barlage rounding out the scoring. Goaltender Carl Tetachuk ended with 24 saves to pick up the win.
The Hitmen got off to a slow start to the contest, allowing the first goal just nine seconds in but were able to respond nicely in the middle stanza as they carried a 3-2 lead into the final frame. The action was fast and furious with the clubs trading a total of five goals, which saw the Hurricanes pull away in the final 10 minutes of the contest.
It wasn’t the way they hoped to enter the break, but something to learn from.
“We played hard today and battled but we just didn’t get the result,” Elder said. “It was a crazy game with going back and forth with the goals and both sides getting some lucky bounces.
“It just wasn’t our game but we aren’t going to let it get us down.”
With the next game scheduled for Dec. 28 in Edmonton to kick off the second half of the season, the players will enjoy some rest to recharge and reset for an important stretch.
With three of the next five games against divisional opponents, each game holds significant value.
“Every game is important whether it’s a divisional one or not,” Hamilton said. “The first game back against Edmonton will be an important game to set the tone and get ready for a stretch of playing every other day for more than a week.
“I trust the guys knowing they’ll be recharged and ready to get back at it.”
With 11 days for the players to spend back home, it’ll be a time to enjoy the time away from the rink but also important to remain in touch with each other.
“We’ll enjoy the break but do the things necessary to come back in good shape,” Kastelic said. “It’ll be important to keep in touch with the boys because we’re all great friends and it’ll be fun to see what everyone is up to.
“When we get back together it’ll be like we never left.”