Hockey games are 60 minutes long, and if you want to win one, you usually have to play well for the full 60 minutes. That was the theme in the Silvertips locker room following their 5-3 loss to the Tri-City Americans on Saturday night.
Coach Dennis Williams compared his team’s play to a light switch.
It’s like a light switch, you can’t keep turning it on and off, they’re too good of a hockey team. We didn’t play enough desperate hockey for 60 minutes.”
The Americans came right out of the gate dominating the physical game, finishing every check. The more important aspect of the first period, however, was special teams. Both teams took more penalties than they would have liked, but only the Silvertips were able to capitalize, going 2 for 3 on the power play while the Americans were held scoreless on 2 opportunities.
“It’s nice to get a couple on the powerplay,” said forward Matt Fonteyne, “and our penalty kill did a good job as well, but I think that just emphasizes we need to play better 5 on 5. Special teams is a big thing but if you’re not playing up to pace you’re not going to win many games at this stage.”
Both goals came on odd bounces in front, the first hitting Matt Fonteyne in the chest and the second coming off of the skate of Americans defenseman Juuso Valimaki. The period ended 2-1 in favor of the home team.
For the second time this series, the Silvertips couldn’t seem to get things going in the second period. Riley Sutter took a penalty early on, which the penalty kill once again killed off. But the Americans would not be denied forever, and eventually Jordan Topping tapped in a great pass across the slot from Isaac Johnson to tie the game at 2.
“Second period both nights in a row were very poor on our part,” said Williams. “This time of year you can’t afford to have an off period. Consistency needs to be much better.”
The Silvertips came out firing in the third, and again got a powerplay early on, but couldn’t convert. The Americans ignited the game’s most exciting 2 minutes when AuCoin got a fortunate bounce off the back boards and buried it past Carter Hart to give the Americans their first lead of the series.
The Silvertips answered right back just a minute later when Garrett Pilon walked into the slot and went bar down on goaltender Patrick Dea. The Silvertips were unable to gain any momentum after that goal, however, and another minute later the Americans took their lead back. Maxwell James fought off what was about to be called a hooking penalty and found the back of the net.
“We just weren’t ready,” Williams said of the back and forth goals in the third. “Those shifts after goals are so important. We need to do a better job of getting some consistency of shifts.”
What was a 2-2 game became a 4-3 game in a span of just 2:10. A Michael Rasmussen empty net goal would eventually put the stamp on this one. For the third straight series, the Silvertips have now found themselves only coming away with the split at home. They’ll look to get a repeat of the previous series when they head to Tri-Cities Monday night for game 3.