As I've said many, many times, winning is infinitely more fun than losing...for everybody. I enjoy going down to the locker room and seeing smiling faces rather than the eerie quiet after a loss.
As always, Jerome went in and got the players I requested. I talked to Andrew Dwyer, Orrin Hergott and Steve Bounds. After a loss is probably their least favorite time to chat, but all three were gracious and cooperative.
I really hated it that this was the first time I'd ever met Steve. I talked to him on the phone when he signed but timing prevented our meeting face to face since he got to town.
After meeting with the players, I sat down with Jerome in his office. Here's what he had to say:
"Obviously we were kind of flat. I tried mixing up the lines to get a spark. The last couple of shifts in the second period I thought we got going. Again Danny gave us a spark. Hand it to Fayetteville. They were playing their third of three and won game three on the road."
Chad Rycroft and Kevin Kozlowski both watched in street clothes. Chad, Steve and Ian will get Jerome's goalie decision sometime this week. Kevin was the last defenseman cut. Andrew has had back problems in the past as did one other d-man in camp and Will Barlow was injured late last season. I'm guessing Kevin is Jerome's defensive insurance policy for now.
The lines are a work in progress every year at this time. It always takes a couple of weeks for Jerome to evaluate the players and how they complement each other. Game situations are the best forum for this evaluation, though he observes in practice too.
The lines he used later in last night's game:
Hergott-Lind-Cole; Green-Boucher-Martens; McCarthy-Stahl-Martini
I'm so glad to see Orrin off to a fast start (no pun intended) offensively after he had such a tough season last year. He's scored three goals in the first two games.
Other random observations from last night...The FireAntz burst out of the gate like they were playing for their jobs. Guy St. Vincent was on the bench, not in net, for the first time since March 5 when he displaced Chad Collins as the Antz number one goalie. St. Vincent gave up 12 goals in the first two games. Last night's goalie, Bryan Bridges, hadn't played in a year due to injury.
Now is a good time to let you know that I will never, not ever, not once, tell you about injuries in the paper or on this blog that haven't been publicly disclosed by a player's coach. It's one of those unwritten, common sense rules that have been in place in sports forever. Now, in this electronic age, I can put something about a player's back on here and his mom in Canada will know instantly. So will a "villain" for another team who'd love nothing better than to whack the player in said back.
If a player appears on crutches at the rink with a boot on his foot or cast on his leg, all bets are off. If 3000 of his closest friends have already seen the injury, then I'll keep you updated.
Fayetteville built a 2-0 lead after one period. They came out flying and the Snakes looked disorganized. The Antz were quicker, more intense and had more quality shots. Turnovers, which were very few on Friday, began to rear their ugly head early. I counted three straight late in the second period alone.
You could see a change in the Snakes after Nic Boucher scored the first goal. They had a long way to go, but they seemed more intense. Two power play goals were encouraging, in addition to one on Friday. The power play has struggled for the better part of two seasons.
After Jerome pulled Steve with just over a minute to play, the usual last-minute flurry began. The Ants missed the open net twice, but precious seconds ticked off as the Snakes had to go to the other end to retrieve the puck. They fired off one shot after another. Tyler Johnson had a couple of long shots that they hoped would sneak in or Bridges would allow a rebound to pop out. Ryan McCarthy was in front of the net banging away, but Bridges wouldn't budge.
Knoxville comes to town next weekend for a pair of games. The goalie situation will be resolved, Jerome will tinker with the lines a little more and we'll all be ready for two more hockey games.