A year removed from back-to-back playoff appearances, the excitement surrounding the Sioux City Musketeers quickly turned to disappointment and frustration after the team struggled the first half of the season.
"One of the biggest mistakes for me personally was not realizing how important the core guys were that we lost last year," Head Coach Brett Larson said.
Even for a seasoned veteran like Captain Josh Erickson, losing was an unfamiliar feeling.
"I've been on a winning team most of my career," Erickson said. "Learning how to lose was a big thing for me, taking that adversity and changing it into positive energy."
"We lost 21, one goal games that we thought we should have won and were playing pretty good hockey," Larson added. "We never felt like we were a bad hockey team. We just got in a tough run there where we couldn't get out of it."
Sitting in last place in the Western Division, a decision had to be made. Make trades to put the team in a position to win now, or build for the future.
"We kind of bit the bullet and swallowed hard and knew we'd take a lot of heat from the fans but traded the tops guys that we knew weren't coming back," Larson said. "As hard as that was -- as hard as it was to take the heat at the mid-season point, we knew it was the right thing for the long-term for the growth and health of the organization"
"Now, even though the Musketeers won't going to be making the postseason, getting out of the basement of the Western Division is motivation enough to continue to play hard."
"We're in a little battle to get out of last place with Des Moines and Tri-City. We're kind of looking at that as a mini playoff series," Michael Kapla said. We have four to get out of the cellar there so that's what our motivation is."
Posting an 11-5-1 record over their 17 games, with just four games remaining in the season, the end is near on the 2012-2013 campaign.
"More than anything, I'm trying to get over the disappointment of not being in the playoffs," Larson said. "These guys have a taste of it now. they know what its like to be at the bottom. they know what it's like to be in the league and win a lot of games. They like this taste a lot better. I think it's going to drive these guys to work hard this summer to come back and get ready to go next year."
Sioux City has its final two home games Friday and Saturday against Tri-City and Fargo. Both games start at 7:05 PM.
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