One more loss or one more Kootenay Ice victory will officially eliminate the Wheat Kings from playoff contention and confirm what most fans have known for weeks -- they'll be no Western Hockey League playoff hockey in Brandon for the first time in 13 years.
The challenge now is keeping the players motivated for the remaining nine games of the regular season.
"You have to realize that you're always playing for something. First and foremost, you have to play for your teammates and your organization," said Brandon head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk on CKLQ's Coaches' Corner on Monday, "Those things have to be what goes through your head every night, and then what comes in is your accountability -- your accountability for yourself, your teammates and your organization."
Brandon will be out to break a four-game losing streak when they host the Swift Current Broncos on Wednesday night (7:05 p.m., Westman Communications Group Place).
There's no doubt it's been a tough year for a proud organization that has made the playoffs for 12 straight years and 20 of the last 21 seasons.
For the first time since the club finished with 11 victories in 1991-92, they'll be playing meaningless games in the month of March.
"It's a situation that we have to continue to improve every single time, we need to continue to try and get better every night," added Gylywoychuk, "We can't let complacency creep into our game at all."
The last time the Wheat Kings missed the playoffs in 1999-2000 they still, mathematically, had a chance to make the post-season going into their final regular season game.
That year, Brandon lost some 550 man-games because of injury on their way to a 25-38-9 record.
It was a season where, as a fan, you could feel somewhat proud of the players' efforts despite not making the playoffs because the team played with 14 skaters for nearly every game over the last two months of the season, and every one of them gave it everything they had.
It would be nice to have that same type of feeling from this year's group of players when all is said on done on March 16th, but they'll have to prove that pride and accountability over the next three weeks.