The injury bug has bit the Eastman Selects hard.
The Selects dressed 18 skaters for the their season opener way back on September 30th.
Flip the calendar to 2018 and Eastman has played 15 games and the hockey team had a full bench just once.
Depending on the day of the week - there could be 12 skaters on the game sheet, or maybe 13, 14 or even 15.
And yet the Selects hold down fourth place and own a three-point lead on the fifth place Winnipeg Thrashers with two weekends left in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League's regular season schedule.
Eastman defeated the Southwest Cougars 4-1 at the SunGro Centre in Beausejour on Saturday and then lost 4-2 to the Pembina Valley Hawks Sunday in Morden.
And numbers were an issue again this past weekend.
"We played a smart game Saturday," said Selects head coach Scott Wong. "Guys were limiting their ice time to 30-40 seconds shifts. We were gettting pucks in deep and we capitalized on our opportunities."
"Sunday we came out with a lot of spunk and a lot of energy. Went up 2-0 but we're short players and fatigue sets in. I don't want to make any excuses but it's very hard to come back. Pembina Valley is a big team. They keep pounding on you and they keep coming at you."
Cole Dekoninck, Dallon Wilton, Jesse Mistelbacher, Matthew Hill, Burke Heide, Matthew Smith and Hudson Chamberlin have played in all 44 games this season.
13 players were on the game sheet Saturday and 14 on Sunday.
"I'm extremely proud of them," said coach Wong. "They fight day-in and day-out and we got lots of guys that are ailing that are currently playing. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and they battle. You could see it till the end against the Hawks. They could barely move but they were trying."
Two Selects joined Western Hockey League teams this season.
Goaltender Danton Belluk went to the Everett Silvertips in early December when Carter Hart was busy helping Canada win gold at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo. He's been back with Eastman since mid-January.
Forward Justin Svenson played 20 games with the Selects and then got the call from the Red Deer Rebels where he's dressed for 18 games and is still in Alberta.
Wong, who has made the call to nine AP players this season including Wyatt Lodge, Andrew Blocker, Denis Gagnon, Noah Chamberlain, Maddux Mateychuk, Ethan McColm, Scott Lamb, Cam Stephen and Cole Oswald, is hoping to get a couple of regulars back in the lineup this weekend when they face the Yellowhead Chiefs in Shoal Lake and the Southwest Cougars in Waskada.
"It's the last road trip of the year. We got to prepare all week in practice and hopefully get a little bit healthier."
"We need the four points," added Selects captain Rylan Hoffman. "We're desperate right now. It's definitely tight for the last four spots for the playoff run and we need the four points."