Steel cold as ice
AJHL team suffers 11th loss in 15 games
Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 06:00 am
The last-place team in the north division is a disappointing 2-11-2 after Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Calgary Mustangs in front of only 198 fans at Performance Arena.
“The guys are down, definitely,” said assistant captain Jordan Abt following a lengthy post-game team debriefing. “You never like to have a record like that, but we’re trying to push everyone and get better and hopefully change that record around.”
The loss dropped the Steel five points back of the Grande Prairie Storm (4-9-3) for the seventh and last playoff spot in the north. The Steel are six points behind the sixth-place Drayton Valley Thunder (6-9).
“They’re not that far in front of us,” Abt said. “It makes it feel better that there are more teams down there with us. It gives us a chance.”
The AJHL’s worst defensive team (4.73 GAA) is winless in four games and 1-7-2 in its last 10.
“Obviously we’re not playing hard enough,” Abt said. “There has been some bad bounces, but you can’t blame it all on that. We just haven’t been playing as well we should be.”
The Steel looked dreadful for two periods against the Mustangs, ranked fourth in the south at 6-8-2, but in the third made the score look respectable with three unanswered goals.
“We’ve got to go a full 60 minutes. We really haven’t had a full 60-minute game yet this year,” Abt said.
John Baird’s team-leading 10th goal, his sixth on the power play, opened the scoring at 9:06 of the first, but the Mustangs replied with three in a row before the period ended. After the Mustangs made it 5-1 before the nine-minute mark in the second, Ty Swabb replaced a shaky Rhys Hadfield in the St. Albert net. Hadfield (2-6-0, 4.85 GAA) faced 15 shots and two of the five goals he let in were on the power play.
After the Mustangs struck again with the man advantage with six minutes left in the period, Steel captain Taylor Fraser’s frustration was evident when he tried to snap his stick in half over his knee. His frustration echoed throughout the near-empty rink. The Steel’s MVP last season also shot an object into the glass partition separating the two benches in disgust.
With 16:04 left in the period, Fraser was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for yapping at the referee from the bench. The 20-year-old forward was unavailable for an interview after the game because he was in a prolonged meeting with the Steel’s assistant coaches.
Tough guy Stefan Meunier and rookie defenceman Landan Viveiros dropped the gloves in the middle stanza with mixed results. Meunier landed some solid blows against Adam Danyluk during a spirited bout. Viveiros hung tough against Suede Omeasoo but got rocked by a couple of punches. Viveiros left the ice to get medical attention and was done for the night. A trail of blood from the bench to the trainer’s room was still visible after the game.
In the third the line of Colten Meaver, Jamie Johnson and newcomer Nick Kerr combined for three goals. Kerr scored twice in a 14-second span and Meaver pulled the Steel to within two of the Mustangs at 8:44.
The Steel outshot the Mustangs 20-10 in the third and 51-30 overall.
“We had a real slow start. Our room just wasn’t buying in and working hard like we talked about,” Abt said. “We had a little meeting and got it figured out and came out in the third with a good effort.”
The recipient of the Steel’s most valuable defenceman award in 2011 said the team couldn’t finish what it started in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss against the Bobcats (10-3-1) in Lloydminster. The Bobcats pumped four straight goals past Swabb after Baird opened the scoring in period two.
“We had a really good first period. We thought we were all right and we just gave up, kind of,” said Abt. “We thought it was all right to be good, but we have to be better than that and it showed by letting in some soft ones.”
ICE CHIPS: All-star centre Reed Linaker (2-11-13 in 13 games) sat out his second straight game Saturday with a knee injury. Baird, 20, is the Steel’s leading point producer with 16 in 15 games and is tied for 13th place in league scoring.
This weekend the Steel host the Olds Grizzlys (5-11) Friday at 7 p.m. and the Brooks Bandits (11-0-3) Sunday at 2 p.m.