Coach Issues Challenge to Players

Head coach Dave Hakstol had words for his slumping team but will they inspire or backfire?
by Marcel Cormier | March 16, 2012, 1:09 AM ET

"It's time to man up; we'll find out what kind of a team we are in the next two weeks."

That from Dave Hakstol, head coach of the Acadia Golden Bears who struggles to find a reason why his once red-hot team has suddenly gone cold. After picking up points in 21 consectuve games, the Bears have limped to a 2-7 record in their last 9 outings and have only scored 16 goals in that span, less than 2 per game.

"Ryan Smyth is a leader on this team but 11 goals is not enough from him," Hakstol declared, "He knows it, the team knows it. I expect more."

The current Franchise Player of the Bears was not the only target in coach Hakstol's sights.

"Tom Gilbert has one goal this year. ONE," said the coach, "Chris VandeVelde managed that in one game with us last week!"

"We don't have anyone in the top 25 of league scoring, our veteran goaltender that we traded for is being outplayed by our rookie goalie let alone the kid we sent away to get him," Hakstol continued, "I've tried call ups, I;ve tried benching guys, I've tried changing up the lines. I have done all that I can do... it's time for the players to step up."

Asked what the players felt about the very public verbal lashing from the coach, most players took the blame.

"It's hard to argue with what he's saying," said Mike Cammalleri who is on pace for his worst productive season in five years, "There is no reason for this team not to be scoring. We have to be better, we have to finish our chances and that starts with me."

"Obviously it's tough to hear that from the coach and I'm sure guys would prefer that that kind of stuff stays behind closed doors but from his standpoint, I can see why he said those things," said Rich Peverely, "It seemed like we could do no wrong for about a month and a half there and now we've pulled a complete 180-degree turn. We have to find a way to right the ship."

The Golden Bears were within a point of first place in the Division but have fallen ten points back of Quebec now. Worse yet, their once padded cushion over the rest of the Conference has evaporated and Acadia currently sits 7th, passed along the way by Toronto, Brandon and Ottawa.

"The good thing is that in our next handful of games we play some of the teams we are battling with for position," said Claude Giroux, "In that sense, we hold our fate in our hands."

"It's time to man up."

Bear Tracks

- The SICHL trade deadline is less than two weeks away and although GM Guy Flaming has been working the phones almost non-stop, apparently not much is in the works. "We see other teams making deals but can't seem to close anything ourselves... but it's not for a lack of trying, that's for sure," said Flaming.

- Defenceman Brooks Orpik has missed the last two weeks with an upper body injury but appears close to a return. He is expected to play in one of the next three games, a 3-in-3 stretch that includes meetings with Miami, Nova Scotia and Whitehorse.

- Prospect Reilly Smith has been named one of the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker award as the top NCAA collegiate player.

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