Zach Pochiro's narrow view of the ice did not change for the last two periods Wednesday night in Victoria.
From his perspective on the end of the Prince George Cougars bench, it was a bad place to see his Cougar teammates valiantly attempting to erase a 4-0 deficit.
It was head coach Mark Holick's decision to bench the Cougars assistant captain and third leading scorer and it probably didn't help the bottom line. Without him, the Cougars lost 5-4 to the Victoria Royals. But as far as Holick was concerned, parking the 19-year-old veteran was a necessary move.
"He wasn't good enough, our best guys have to be our best players and if you don't want to adhere to that you don't get to play," said Holick. "You have to play the way we want as a team or you don't get the privilege to play, and it's a privilege to play in this league."
Holick is still trying to figure out why his team, Pochiro included, failed to answer the bell Wednesday.
"We're not good enough that we can't work, we have to work to compete and have to battle for every inch of ice and we didn't do that in the first 20," said Holick. "They got a couple breaks around our net and we put ourselves behind the 8-ball. You're not going to go 72-0, you can't win every night, but you can certainly compete every night and that's what we're trying to get out of these kids."
To their credit, the Cougars picked up the pace considerably after the disaster that was the first period and followed the lead of captain Troy Bourke to score the next three goals and make it a one-goal game heading into the third period. They had plenty of chances to pull even in the final frame but were unable to finish.
The seventh-place Cougars (5-6-0-1) will try to end their two-game losing streak in Seattle tonight against the third-place Thunderbirds (8-3-0-0). The Cats wrap up their four-game roadtrip Saturday night in Kelowna against the well-rested Rockets (6-1-0-2), the fourth-place team in the WHL Western Conference.
The Cougars chose to start Brett Zarowny in goal against the Royals Wednesday after he turned in a third-star performance in the Cougars' 3-0 loss in Victoria Monday. But after allowing three goals on 14 shots, Zarowny was replaced by Ty Edmonds 13:37 into the game. It marked the third time in five starts this season the 18-year-old Zarowny has been yanked to the bench prematurely. With Edmonds in net, the Cougars tightened up defensively and stayed away from penalties to allow just 14 shots the rest of the game and let in two. Many Cougars followers were surprised Holick didn't elect to start Edmonds, the CHL goalie of the week last week.
"Brett's our goalie and we've got to get him on a roll," said Holick. "He's going to have to work his way out of this, and that's where mental toughness comes in. Goalies have to have short memories. He played OK in the first game and we didn't give him any support."
The Cougars are still without centre David Soltes (knee injury) and winger Jari Erricson (lower body).