A loss and a tie wasn't what the St. Albert Slash expected on their road trip last weekend against the Medicine Hat Hounds.
The Slash (9-6-5) suffered a penalty-filled 4-2 loss Saturday and a 5-5 tie Sunday in Vauxhall against the Hounds (9-7-4).
The Slash were down 3-0 on power play goals by the time the game was 11 minutes old Saturday. They battled back to make it 3-2 in the third period with goals by Melissa Kueber, including one on the power play. However, the visitors gave up a shorthanded goal and couldn't complete the comeback.
Emily Mitchell stopped 16 shots in net for St. Albert in a game head coach Terry Sydor thought they could have earned at least one point.
“We went into a bear's den and got chewed early. The top three leading scorers in the league [Karlee Odland, Erika Sowchuk and Ashley Fitzpatrick have combined for 98 points] all play on one line,” Sydor said. “Our youth and inexperience got exploited by an older, more aggressive team. It's too bad because I thought it would be a good test for our team.”
One of the toughest issues was all the whistles. Sydor was forced to roll a lot of four-on-four or three-on-three situations, which meant certain players didn't see a lot of ice time.
“It wasn't rough, totally different from what we expected. The ref was consistent, but it killed the flow of the game and some kids weren't getting out very much,” Sydor said. “We couldn't get anything going, and players don't want to go in hard for fear of getting penalized. We were expecting old-time hockey and we got this other thing but we didn't get frustrated. We held our cool.”
Sydor said the biggest frustration was the Slash were starting to garner some momentum and get chances against netminder Samantha Rupp (25 shots total), but the shorthanded goal against tipped the scales.
“The third period we were getting pressure and had some good chances with the power play, then we turned the puck over. Those kind of mistakes, you can't let that happen. You can't let them get the next goal,” he said. “It was careless. We outshot them and had good legitimate chances, but we couldn't capitalize.”
Sunday’s game was more of the rough-and-tumble affair Sydor expected. He was happier about the effort the girls put up overall on the offensive side of the puck, but said the defensive side was still lacking discipline. The Hounds scored four power play goals and outshot the visitors 37-28. Tyler Lisitza stood between the pipes for St. Albert while Rupp got her second straight start.
Taryn McCormick, Angie Mason, Karlie Heffernan, Tegan Rose each had a goal and assist while Kueber notched a goal and two assists.
“We had some good chances and we capitalized,” said Sydor. “It was more old-time hockey. They were running our players and we took some bad penalties. They take Kueber from behind almost through the boards and we retaliate on a player who has two points on the season. We were just kind of in over our heads a bit.”
The Slash face off against the Sherwood Park Fury (7-9-3) Friday at 7:15 p.m. at Millennium Place and the Lloydminster Steelers (9-7-4) Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Border City. The Steelers sit just one point behind the second-place Slash in the north standings. The Slash are 1-0-1 against Lloydminster this year.
“They've been close games this year and we expect the same this weekend. They've got some very talented forwards. Their defence is very mobile. They move diagonally and use the width of the ice very well. We need to protect the middle and not get sucked over puck-side, so we'll reinforce that,” said Sydor, who is hoping for a better start by his team than what he saw in Vauxhall. “We've talked a lot about it. We need to spend this week preparing to answer the bell.
“We do have a young team and our little deficiencies got exposed against Medicine Hat. Some of them are mental, some are skill that we have to address.”