BROOKFIELD - The focus has shifted for the Brookfield Elks.
No longer is the team's sole purpose to win hockey games, but rather, to make sure it learns as much as possible from this bleak season to build for the future.
"We're not going to make the playoffs and everyone knows it," Elks coach Josh Boulton said. "So we just want to develop these young guys and keep them from developing bad habits."
The Elks (5-18-3-1), last in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League's Fred Fox Division, continue on that quest tonight as they host the Valley Maple Leafs (15-8-1-0) at 7:30 p.m. at Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex.
Valley is locked in a battle for second in the division with the Bay Ducks (15-6-1-0) while both teams trail the division-leading Sackville Blazers (17-6-0-0) by three points before Monday's contests.
Boulton hadn't made a decision on his starting goaltender at press time.
The Elks are coming off an 11-3 loss to the East Hants Penguins (14-5-1-1) on Friday, but Boulton said his team is focused on tonight's contest.
"The scores have been so up and down all season," he said. "It doesn't really phase them. Nobody likes to lose but these guys seem to just turn the page and show up ready for the next game."
The Leafs hold a 2-1 edge in the season series between the teams. After Valley cruised to a 7-0 win on Nov. 8, the last two meetings have been tight, with both needing shootouts to decide a winner.
"They're really smart and a very stable team," Boulton said of the Leafs. "They play the same way all the time. They don't raise or lower their game to their opponent."
But The Elks are more concerned about achieving their own goals. Boulton and his fellow coaches are looking to get their skaters playing consistent hockey and that means focusing on their own play without worrying about the numbers on the scoreboard.
"We just want to keep things simple and stay focused," he said. "And that starts with us as coaches. If we keep our cool, no matter what the score, they're going to see that and work hard to the final whistle instead of getting discouraged and giving up."
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