The Kanata Stallions are hoping a new head coach can help them corral a playoff spot this year in the Central Canada Hockey League.

General manager Lou Nistico hired Corey Foster to take the reins from Randy Pierce on Feb. 11, in the hopes of turning things around after a disappointing season of losses.

“I think it’ll give them new life,” Nistico said of the Stallions players. “We have nine games left and hopefully this gets us to a playoff spot.”

Nistico said he thought Pierce, a former NHL right-winger, did a good job as the bench boss, but the team just “wasn’t responding.”

“It’s no fun firing your coach,” he said. “This time of year, it’s just easier to replace the coach than to replace 20 hockey players.

“It’s not just the coach’s fault; the players have to take responsibility. The coach can only do so much.”

The Stallions – this year’s Fred Page Cup hosts – are four points away from a playoff berth. The team has won 20 games, lost 27, and lost another six in overtime or shoot-outs. The Stallions are up against the Smiths Falls Bears, who are 24-27-2, for the last playoff spot.

“I still think we have a good shot at the playoffs,” said Nistico, adding he expects the players will respond well to Foster. “(The players) realize that they're the reason that the head coach got fired. I think they’ll respond better and start playing like they’re capable of playing.”

Foster was originally hired as an assistant coach last August. However, he had to leave his position in November for personal reasons. Now, the former NHLer is hoping he can lead the team in the right direction.

“I hope to get into the playoffs,” Foster said. “We’ve had a couple of real good practices. Hopefully, moving forward, we can all get on the same page and get into the playoffs.”

Foster, an Arnprior resident, played four seasons as a defenceman for the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes. His best season was in 1989 when he was a member of Canada’s national junior team and won the Memorial Cup with the Petes.

He was the 12th overall pick in the 1988 NHL draft by the New Jersey Devils. He played 45 NHL games with New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

jessica.cunha@metroland.com