Every champion must go through adversity in order to dig deep and rise to the top. The NHL's Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues found themselves in last place on Jan. 1 before fighting back and winning the cup while the NBA's Toronto Raptors had numerous playoff disappointments before finally climbing the ranks to the top with their championship victory over the two-time defending champions Golden State Warriors. The same can be said for championship hopefuls in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League's (RMLL) Rockyview Silvertips who suffered back-to-back losses on June 22 and 23, the first time they've lost consecutive games this season.
The team found themselves coming into the weekend with a 9-3 record, tops in the Central Division ahead of the Calgary Chill before their two road games against the St. Albert Crude and the Edmonton Warriors. In the first game against the Crude, St. Albert jumped out to an early 5-2 lead and never looked back, adding four more goals in the second as well as four goals in the third. Hunter McChesney and Matthew Dyck scored twice for the Silvertips while Josh Halcro, Jordon Waddell and Ryan Gulutzan also scored in the 13-7 loss. Nolan Oakey continued his torrid pace to the season adding five assists in the game while McChesney and Halcro finished with four points each.
The following night, the 'Tips got off to a hot start but fizzled out after the first period. Matthew Dyck scored twice with Nolan Oakey and Hunter McChesney adding their own tallies to push the Silvertips out to a 4-1 lead after one period of play. That's when the wheels fell off for the visitors, as Edmonton scored 12 straight goals before McChesney rounded out the scoring as the 'Tips finished with one goal on the final two periods of play in a 13-5 loss.
Ryan Gulutzan, the younger of the two brothers who terrorize the opposition said the team needs to put this weekend behind them and continue to push for the Silvertips second consecutive playoff spot after making team history last season with their first appearance in the post season.
"The weekend in Edmonton was disappointing for our team. We didn't play our game, and we made a lot of mental errors that resulted in our losses," Gulutzan said of the pair of weekend match ups. "We need to sharpen up our game in practice this week in order to get ourselves back on track."
"We just need to put these losses in the back of our mind, especially this past weekend in Edmonton and focus on the remaining six games on our schedule. The team is very excited to know that we are making Silvertips history and we want the success to continue long into the playoffs."
Gulutzan has put together a good sophmore season offensively, tallying 11 goals and 30 assists for 41 points in 14 games. He said he feels like he's really noticed a difference from this year compared to his rookie campaign.
"I'm very happy with how I've played so far this season," he said. "Last season I feel like I wasn't playing up to my potential, but now I feel like I'm making more of an impact in terms of offence this year."
The Silvertips have six games left to pad to their two game lead on the Chill, including four divisional games in those final contests. Gulutzan said it's crucial for them to put their best foot forward over the next couple of weeks in order to ensure they're firing on all cylinders heading into playoffs.
"It's very important that we win those four divisional games we have left. If we win those games, it should put us in a good spot heading into playoffs," Gulutzan said. "We need to get back to the way we were playing at the start of the year. Everyone needs to buy into our systems and come ready to play.