Zach Pochiro and the Prince George Cougars practiced something new this week.
The Cougars, who hold the distinction of being the Western Hockey League's worst power-play unit at 13.9 per cent efficiency, spent about 60 minutes during Thursday's practice at CN Centre working exclusively on their power play in preparation for the team's weekend doubleheader with the Vancouver Giants.
Cougars head coach Mark Holick divided his troops into two teams and had the power-play team take to the ice 20 minutes ahead of the penalty-kill squad.
"It was so we could run through and get the blood flowing and so the other guys didn't really know what we were doing," said Pochiro. "We didn't really work on power play that much but now that we've got a new coach we seem to do it a lot. Hopefully, we can get it together and be a lot better on it."
Since Holick replaced Dean Clark as the Cougars bench boss on Jan. 23 the Cougars (16-30-2-6) have gone 2-4-0-2, including dropping a 4-3 decision in a shootout Wednesday against the Red Deer Rebels where they were 1 for 7 with the man advantage.
The Cougars were unable to break a 3-3 tie when they were handed a two-man advantage for a full two minutes midway through the third period, but, Holick said at least the team put 10 shots on net, crediting Rebels' goalie Patrik Bartosak for the saves. He said more disconcerting to him was the Cougars' inability to score when the Rebels took a delay of game penalty in overtime.
"When you get that kind of chance in overtime you've got to take it," said Holick. "They out chanced us on that and that's not good enough for us. It's not where we are and not where we want to be and where we want to go."
Holick said he believes the work the Cats have done should start to show in games soon.
"Working on the power play is something we feel we need to do and we'll continue to do," said Holick. "It's just confidence. If you can practice it and practice it then it just happens in a game."
The Cougars ended practice by working on the shootout after dropping their last two games when they failed to score in the skills competition.
"It's all fun and games in practice, but there's no doubt we've got to be better in the shootout it's cost us two points here so far," said Holick.
The Cougars lost 2-1 in the skills competition Saturday to the Victoria Royals.
Pochiro failed to score on his shootout attempt in both recent games, but has discovered a new formula to score in regulation after notching his ninth and 10th goals of the season in the loss to the Rebels.
"I'm just trying to get it on net and make sure I hit the net," said Pochiro, who has 22 points this season. "[Wednesday] I shot one from the corner and I had no intentions of scoring - the intention was to just get it to the net - and it went in. I have to keep doing that I guess."
The 18-year-old rookie will try to remember his new scoring formula tonight and Saturday, 7 p.m., when the Giants (13-40) visit CN Centre in a pair of must-win games for the home side.
"It's playoff hockey right now," said Pochiro. "We need to win these games. If we keep playing the way we are there's no doubt in my mind that we should win."