Jo-Anne Clark-Gillespie is leading the charge behind the PCI Saints as the bench boss in her seventeenth season as a part of the program.
Sitting in a tie for last place in Division 2 of the Manitoba Women's High School Hockey League with a record of 2-13-0-1-0, you would think frustration would be boiling over. However, Clark-Gillespie is keeping a cool and calm demeanour.
"If you just look at our win-loss record, it doesn't look like we're having a very successful season, but success is measured a lot of different ways and not just on wins. So, we're struggling in that aspect when it comes to getting wins. But the improvement that has been shown from where we started in September to where we are now is huge. We even get comments from other teams and officials about how much we're improving from game to game."
The Saints head coach says she believes that anything can happen when the playoffs roll around.
"I'm a big believer that the 22 games of the regular season are just the warm-up before the real season of playoffs. So, I'm hoping that we're trending towards playing our best hockey in another few weeks in the regular season ends when we head into playoffs."
Clark-Gillespie highlighted her goaltenders, Abby Reichert and Sofia Lund, being the best tandem in the league, which has helped their goals stay respectable, with 46 Goals Against recorded so far into the season. While the Goals Against may be at a level representing a middle-of-the-pack team, the numbers don't lie; the Saints are having problems finishing at the net with just 16 Goals Scored.
"We're going to focus on our transition out of our own zone and what we do in the neutral zone and how we enter the offensive zone and basically trying to keep it simple by getting as many pucks to the net as we can. The majority of our goals need to come from just putting the puck on the net."
Lack of scoring may be an identified area of improvement for the team, but Clark-Gillespie says it isn't for lack of effort, as the girls work extremely hard in practice.
"I think we just got to start translating all that hard work and the execution we do in practice; they just got to do it in a game."
The PCI Saints will take on the SJR Eagles in Winnipeg at Dutton Memorial Arena on Thursday at 4 p.m.