Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury – Guelph Storm coach Jason Brooks faced the inevitable question Tuesday night.
His last-place team had just lost for the fourth straight time – a 5-2 defeat to the Kitchener Rangers – and Brooks was asked if he was worried about his job.
“If that’s the case, that’s the case: it’s out of my control,” Brooks said.
“At the end of the day I’m working my butt off, trying to do things the right way and coach this team and manage this team. If they (the owners) don’t think I’m doing the job they want, then they’ll tell me.”
He said he has tried to make changes to improve the team during the current skid, which has seen it win just once in the past nine games.
“I don’t think it’s from lack of not trying to make changes to tweak the roster,” Brooks said.
“Make that initial jolt to the room. Things just haven’t worked out in that respect.”
He said he is anxious to see how his team plays now that it is finally healthy and once the players returning from injury have a chance to get back into form.
“We’ve just got our guys back, now we just have to get back to playing the way we did when we won six in a row earlier this year.”
Not even the return of captain Matt Kennedy (pictured) to the lineup could halt the skid Tuesday.
Guelph led 1-0 early in the first but trailed 2-1 by the end of the first period.
They were outscored 3-1 in the second period as the Rangers potted two on the power play agains a Guelph penalty-killing unit that is the worst in the OHL.
Defensive miscues, including blatant turnovers by Guelph led to several of the Rangers goals.
“The team’s been struggling and I was doing everything in my power to get back in the lineup,” said Kennedy, who missed 11 games with a nagging groin injury.
“It’s tough not being able to be in the room and be around the guys on the ice.
“I think it’s more noticeable when I’m not on the ice at practice pushing those guys.”
Kennedy’s rust showed as did the frustration, as he was handed 17 minutes in penalties after going after Rangers captain Dan Kelly off a faceoff near the end of the second period.
Kennedy was a little upset over Kelly’s willingness to fight the much smaller and younger Cody McNaughton earlier in the game, but then refusing to drop the gloves when Kennedy went after him.
The Storm captain said he remembers being on a Storm team three years ago that lost 11 straight games but rebounded to be one of the league’s best teams in the second half of the season.
“I definitely think this team has the talent to bounce back like that as soon as we come around and get some chemistry.”
The real test for Kennedy will come today when he feels how his injured groin feels.
“It felt pretty good and hopefully it won’t get too sore tonight and I’ll be good to go on the weekend,” Kennedy said.
Francis Menard and Conor O’Donnell had the Storm goals.
Jeff Skinner, with two, Jason Akeson, Matt Tipoff and Julian Cimadamore had the Rangers goals.
The Storm hosts Owen Sound on Friday on Teddy Bear Toss night at the Sleeman Centre.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.