Well, this season is beginning to turn into last season for the Jr. Blues: lots of heart-breaker games. Last night's was no exception as the Jr. Blues attempted to prevent a sweep on home ice and take a win out from the Roadrunners. Springfield played aggressively throughout the game and minimized their penalties. They're still scrambling around the net and collapsing their defensive lines around the net, and at least two Topeka goals capitalized on Springfield defenders being out of position. So, how bad was it? Well, it's wasn't great, but it's survivable.
The first period opened up with some solid defense on both sides, but Jake Lynes of the Roadrunners got the first goal of the game at 7:52. Chris Sitler answered the challenge with a goal of his own at 13:08, assisted by linemates Josef Pontasch and Kyle Cook. The period ended with no penalties, and 13 shots on goal for each side.
Period number two saw three penalties, none of which factored into goals for either side. The Jr. Blues had a very aggressive penalty kill strategy going last night which gave them a few good short-handed goal attempts. A roughing call on resident Muscovite Ruslan Pedan at 3:19 was matched by a tripping call at 5:11 by Topeka's Ryan White. An aggressive PK turned into an equally-aggressive power play, but nothing came of it for the Jr. Blues. Gage Hough of the Roadrunners scored at 10:13 to mark the only goal of the second period. I think this goal could have been prevented had the Jr. Blues players been willing to stay near the puck instead of finishing unnecessary checks. Paul Byrne of the Jr. Blues took two minutes in the box for high-sticking, but the aggressive PK strategy of the Jr. Blues kept shots out of the net. The Jr. Blues led in shots on goal at the end of the period 9 to 5.
Scoring was the name of the game in the third period, as both teams stayed full-strength throughout the period. Jake Lynes opened up with an unassisted goal at 2:28 for his second, and Chris Sitler answered again at 11:26 for his second of the night as well. At 16:37, Gavin Tufte tied it up for the Jr. Blues and the team shifted its momentum into playing for overtime. This overconfidence cost them the game, as a lack of coverage between goaltender Caleb Neal and a shot by Topeka's Sean Gaffney scored Topeka's fourth and game-winning goal at 18:55.
The crowd of 713 was into it for the entire game, as the Jr. Blues played more aggressively than they did in the Friday night match. The Jr. Blues also managed to fix some of their timing issues as well, as there were fewer passes being intercepted or missing due to being a stride off. They will need it as their next opponent is the Janesville Jets. They're smarting from a loss to the division-leading St. Louis Bandits and would like to pay the Jr. Blues back for their two-game sweep at the Jets' home arena. Springfield's record falls to 7-11-1.
The next game for the Jr. Blues is Friday, November 11 at Nelson Center. It's the first of a three-game series against the Janesville Jets. Puck drops at 7pm, the gate opens at 6. Friday will also be the jersey auction for the team's Veterans' Day jerseys. The Jr. Blues will end their November series with two games in Topeka on the 18th and 19th, so hopefully they'll get two back from the Roadrunners in their arena. I'll be live-tweeting the game again so you can always look for the #bloozocky tag for what's going on.