Stop me if you heard this one before: Springfield bolts out to an early lead, but in the third period the visiting team rolls them like a drunken sailor in a back alley in Hong Kong? What's that? You thought that was last night's result, too? You'd be right. Instead of going period-by-period, I'm going to talk about what I saw that may have led to a near-repeat of the previous game. The only difference is that this time Springfield held the 2-0 lead through two periods and lost it all in the third. The final score was Fairbanks 4, Springfield 2.I'm trying not to be disappointed here but when the team loses its mojo in the third period after giving up a goal it's tough not to feel that way. Peoria native Nate Chasteen took advantage of two power plays in the first period to score Springfield's goals at 8:58 and 12:12. That was it for scoring. With the exception of some beautiful shots on goal and hard work by Chasteen's line, the boys seemed a little down. Was it the trade of veteran D-Man Cody Dixon that brought the boys down? If it was, there shouldn't have been any scoring this weekend, so that wasn't it. If not, then what was it?
Here's one thing that killed them: The team is down to seven defensemen total, and two were off tonight. Hunter Wilhoite and Ji Young Li were both off, so a five-man defensive rotation was sure to get burned out. I'm very impressed with Theo Tydingco's performance. He seemed like he was out there every other shift and he took more hits in the corners when digging pucks out. Still, though, you can't run five defensemen and hope for a miracle as your plan. An extra defenseman would have helped keep the players' energy levels up.
Penalties were also more dangerous tonight. Springfield forward Russell Jordan led with three penalties, one in each period. His slashing penalty at 14:07 in the third set up the power play goal by Fairbanks' Devin Loe that allowed the Ice Dogs to take the lead. He seemed to have an off night as everything was getting under his skin. My guess is he was getting frustrated by his line's lack of scoring. For Fairbanks, their first period penalties by Garret Clemment at 7:25 and Jakob Romo at 10:55 were what led to both of Chasteen's goals. I think the trip next week out to Jamestown will help cool Jordan down a little. Sometimes a road trip helps to clear things out.
The last thing that the team needs to work on is keeping the lead in the third period. The first goal by Fairbanks took a fair bit of energy out of the boys. The second one that flipped out of goalie Ryan Kellenberger's trapper killed off the energy and kept them from building it back. I don't know if you can attribute that to youth or not. I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I can't say I know what makes people tick during games. They played pretty dejectedly in the final five minutes of the third. I don't know what else to say about it.
I think the ride out to Jamestown NY to play against the Ironmen this coming weekend will help them out. If anything it will allow them to get out of town and blow off some steam. Jamestown won't be easy as they're 4-2-2 on the season compared to Springfield's 1-6-1.
The next home stand for the Jr. Blues will be October 12 & 13 where they'll face fellow NAHL North team Port Huron. The puck drops at 7:05pm both nights at Nelson Center as always. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 18, seniors and veterans.