Ugh. It was a terrible night for the Jr. Blues last night. What do you expect when the referee allows your opposition to run your goalie all night, though? Well, what you get is a 2-1 deficit at the end of the first that spirals into a 6-1 deficit plus a goalie change by the end of the second. Goaltender Gabe Antoni was slashed, checked into the net, punched, and generally landed on in scrums by St. Louis players. I'm quite surprised I didn't see a flying elbow from the top of the net land on him.
The first period saw the Jr. Blues fighting back from a 2-1 deficit after Bandits players Joseph Birmingham and Patrick Pollock scored early. Chris Sitler fought his way through a pile of Bandits players to sink the first Jr. Blues goal at 17:17.
The second period was dominated by the Bandits, as they scored two goals and piled onto the Jr. Blues goaltender repeatedly. After meeting with the trainer, it was decided to pull Antoni for Tyler Parks. At 13:51, Springfield defenseman Kevin Walters was given a 10-minute misconduct for abuse of officials. That's what happens when you tell the referee who officiated the game last night to pull his head out of his ass. Even with Parks in the net, the Bandits still managed to score two goals. Their aggression towards the goaltender was matched by their forecheck and backcheck. The Jr. Blues were completely unable to set anything up for a scoring chance in the second. The second period ended with the Bandits leading 6-1.
The Jr. Blues were pretty much finished by the third, but there was a matter of pride that brought them back into the game. After a seventh goal by the Bandits (a powerplay goal that was caused by Coaches Dibble & Power getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty) the Jr. Blues fought back. The Jr. Blues sank to their opponents' level when Kyle Cook landed roughly on Bandits goaltender Spencer Viele. In one of the odder moments of the night, Viele was given a penalty for roughing at 9:26. This gave Springfield a little hope. Guan Wang, Ethan Nauman and Kyle Cook scored goals in a two-minute span at 11:03,12:33 and 12:52 respectively. Nauman's goal was short-handed, thanks to yet another call by the eagle-eyed referee. At 12:52, Kyle Cook was tripped on a fantastic breakaway, and he was awarded a penalty shot. He sank it past Viele to bring the score to 7-4. The Jr. Blues had their offense smother for the rest of the game. At 16:57 former Jr. Blue Taylor Wolfe scored from the blue line to give the Bandits and 8-4 lead. They held on to win with that score.
Yeah, I'm a little pissed off at the officials. The referee seemed to turn a blind eye to Bandits penalties in the second, and didn't do much in the third, either. He missed a lot of the Bandits' elbows, checks to the head, hooks and trips. I'm also beginning to wonder if his borrowing a Bandits warm-up jacket during his pre-game warmup laps wasn't a sign of things to come.
Regardless of this lousy result, the Jr. Blues are still in the playoffs. They have two more regular season games at Janesville to close out the season on the 30th and 31st. I'll be attending the game on the 31st. It should be fun.
The next home game for the Jr. Blues is Friday April 13. It's a playoff game, so the cost for tickets is $10. The boys will have already played their first two playoff games in Janesville, so this is the third in a five-game series. The puck drops at 7pm.
State Journal-Register recap