Things for the Battlefords AAA Sharks are shaping up to be eerily similar to last spring.
Following a pair of losses this weekend to the Swift Current Wildcats, the Sharks finished the regular season with seven wins in 28 games, just like last year.
They finished the year with 21 points, just like last year (three points for a regulation win).
And it's very likely they have to face the Prince Albert Northern Bears in the first round of the playoffs, just like last year.
After a strong effort last Thursday in a 7-3 loss to the top-ranked Saskatoon Stars, the Sharks took a bit of a step back this weekend in their 4-3 and 4-0 losses to the fifth-place Wildcats.
"We just didn't play 60 minutes and offensively we really struggled to create offence," Sharks head coach Gary Berggren said after Sunday's shutout loss. "We played really well Thursday for the majority of the game and then just a bit of a step back on the weekend here."
The problem with a top team like the Stars is if you sleep for even just a second, they can capitalize, which they did.
"We had about two minutes [off]. It was two shifts in a row," Berggren said of last Thursday. "So third period, we score to make it 4-3 for them and then we had two shifts where we didn't come out and they scored two goals and now it's a 6-3 game and it's completely different."
The Sharks could conceivably play the Stars in the first round, but the Northern Bears are much more likely. The Stars and Northern Bears each have two games left, with Saskatoon currently four points ahead of Prince Albert for top spot in the league. The Sharks are guaranteed to play whoever finishes in second.
Berggren said he doesn't have a preference for who they play.
"They're both good teams," he said. "We really need to regroup [but]...we're ready for the challenge. We're really looking forward to playoffs and we want the challenge for sure."
As is often the case, heading into the post-season means a renewed focus on the details, Berggren said.
"Second and third chances around our net ended up hurting us [on Sunday]. And then [Saturday], a couple shots from the point that were screened," he said. "It's tough when you're looking at the video and sometimes it's our own players screening our goalie. Just a few little things like that that we need to clear up."
Because the Sharks are the only team that has played all 28 games, the playoffs can't start until Feb. 26 at the earliest (three teams in the league have only played 25 games as of Tuesday).
Berggren said there are a couple keys to pulling off the upset.
"Sixty minute effort and our special teams need to be better than their special teams," he said.
Last week, Ensley Fendelet led the Sharks with two goals and an assist in three games. Cassidy Carlson and Keera Tiringer had two points each in the three games as well.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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