Good morning, Snakes fans!! Well, I'm the first to admit I didn't see the W I was expecting last night, but I was encouraged with what I did see.
I saw way more pucks thrown at the net, for starters. Before the game, Jerome promised me 40 SOG. My friend and loyal assistant Kevin Mills and I grinned and thought, "uhhhhh, we'll see!" If you remember, Friday night, the Snakes put only 22 shots on net. That's enough...for 2 periods! Certainly not for a whole game!
Last night, Jesse Kallechy saw 41 shots and stopped 39. A good night's work for a goaltender, but I keep thinking of the ones that got away. Still too many open nets where the guys just couldn't pull the trigger. Couldn't get the stick in correct position, get their feet set...something kept going wrong. SOOOO frustrating!
Let me stop for a minute and defend the boys. To the fans, the beat writer, and everyone else, this is back-to-back losses. To these guys, it's not doing your best at your job...in front of a couple thousand witnesses!! Who among us has not made mistakes at work? You take a deep breath, fix it and move on.
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That's what the guys are trying to do. Actually, I think they're trying too hard. Squeezing the stick is what they call it. Everybody wants to be the offensive hero. Everybody wants to be the guy to unleash the barrage in which they score 6 goals in a night and win 6-0. :) The most frustrating thing is how close they are.
Let me use Orrin as an example. You know as well as I do what a streaky player Orrin Hergott is. When he catches fire, nothing and nobody can stop him. When Orrin goes streaking down the nearside boards, I don't have to look for number 11. I know it's him and I know what's going to happen when he crosses the blue line. Right now, that timing just isn't there. Last night, I looked up and saw Orrin on the far side. That was a pretty good example of how scrambled things remain offensively. I don't see all the Xs and Os, but I know Orrin belongs on my side...haha.
One more point about the guys. Please don't, for one second, question their desire to win. Trust me on this. I see their faces as they leave the ice and they're beyond frustrated. Think of it this way, if you and I are stressed...multiply that by 100 and that's how the guys feel. They are professionals and take great pride in what they do. NOBODY wants to win more than they do. Losing is, in a word...miserable.
On to lighter topics. My pal Barney Slayton was the EBUG for Louisiana last night when one of their goalies, Riley Gill, was injured. Barney has served in this capacity for the Snakes, Fayetteville and once before for the Ice Gators.
Kallechy was handling things just fine and Barney was in his place at the end of the bench, though I don't really think green is his color...haha. It's a one-goal game with the Snakes turning up the heat higher and higher with every passing minute. Sustained pressure in the LA zone as the clock ticked under 4 minutes. Suddenly, a scrum broke out in front of the net (ok, kind of IN the net) and Kallechy went down. With apologies to Kallechy, my first thought was of Barney. He looked cool, calm and collected...
"This is what I've been preparing for all these years. I've been working for that first save. It was late in the game and they were protecting the lead. It was the opportunity I've been working towards."
Barney didn't get his opportunity last night. After the Gators' trainer made a visit and Kallechy had a few minutes to collect himself, he was fine and remained in the game.
In my new office, down the hall from the locker room, I met coach Kevin Kaminski for the first time. He was in the adjoining area, which is apparently the visiting coach's office. I found that out Friday night, the first time this season I've brought my laptop into what is aptly called the press lounge. I walked in and met up with Knoxville's equipment guy. I asked him if anybody was in there and he said Mike Craigen was in there changing clothes. Ok...plan B, on deadline is not a big deal. The room has a partition. The coach's lounge on one side and my office on the other.
So after I filed, I went over and met the coach and asked him about Kallechy. He hesitated and said he was a little....uh,,,fuzzy? I said "he got his bell rung?" He said YES! that's what happened. The medical term for getting your bell rung has never been defined, but it's this side of having a concussion or thinking it's Easter or time for soccer practice. Shaking out the cobwebs is all you need to do. Anyway, he was very friendly and not suspicious of my motives...so thanks, coach!
Back to the game. Two key moments, in my humble opinion. Tie game, 1-1. Opportunity to get a rare lead with a power play. I have no idea how it happened that, not only did the Snakes NOT get a PPG, but gave up a shortie. Geeeeez. That was awful, but...
They battled back and tied it with what I hope is a glimpse into their offensive future. John Sullivan, Levi Lind and Sam Bowles gave us an example of the passing sequences that win games. It wasn't as crisp as the patented ones in the past, but you can't argue with success. Tie game 2-2.
I hope nobody asks me how Andrew Loewen missed the next goal, the crucial go-ahead goal only a couple minutes later. Kearney was all by himself outside the circle. He fired a one-timer and Andrew didn't move. Now the goalies always tell me: if I can see it, I have a good chance to stop it. This shot wasn't fired from a crowd or through one. Wide open.
I was on deadline last night and the locker room was closed longer than usual. :( If I had time, trust me, it was not the best time to ask Andrew about the goal. Not that he wouldn't be pleasant and honest, but I'll get a better explanation later when he's had a little time to get over it.
Andrew will get over it. They all will. They'll put their disappointment behind them and report for practice tomorrow morning to prepare for Tuesday night.