Penalty trouble resulted in a bitter loss from a promising initial ten minutes in The ‘Roos’ game against the Lac La Hache Tomahawks, Saturday.
A 6-5 final in favour of the Tomahawks came courtesy of penalties, with every Tomahawk goal coming on the power play.
“The penalties killed us, obviously – six power play goals. If you take that away, five on five they couldn’t touch us,” assistant coach Wayne Holmes said.
The ‘Roos played well when they played, but runs of penalties and attempts to meet the Tomahawks on their own turf ultimately ended in disaster for the ‘Roos.
Keeping the puck down at the Tomahawks end for most of the first half of the first period, the ‘Roos had control of the game, posting two goals within ten minutes.
Mike Kaluzny nabbed the first goal on the power play, not two minutes into the game, seconds after the post-penalty face off.
The ‘Roos kept up the pressure, with Joel Boyetchko burying the puck for the ‘Roos’ second, just before the ten minute mark.
With the ‘Roos firmly in control of the game, the arena was loud with the optimism that comes with a two-goal lead.
The Tomahawks started their fight back on the power play, with Brayden Penner in the box.
The Tomahawks boxed the ‘Roos into their own zone, playing keep away until Robin Gilbert took a hard shot from the point that found its way past Ryan Manderson in net, to put the Tomahawks a single goal behind.
The next goal came on stacked penalties for the ‘Roos. Curtis Gassoff was the first to go in, with Kaluzny following not a minute later, after foregoing the puck in favour of playing the body on a shorthanded attempt for the ‘Roos.
Down two men, the ‘Roos couldn’t manage to keep control, with the Tomahawks’ Anthony Sellars burying the puck and letting a single ‘Roo out of the box.
Still on the power play, the Tomahawks took advantage again, with Wade Balbirnie sneaking the puck past Manderson and freeing the last ‘Roo from the box.
Suddenly, the Tomahawks were in the lead and the ‘Roos were scrambling to keep up.
With just over a minute left in the first, the ‘Roos evened the score on a two man rush, with Justin Fulton bringing it end to end to score unassisted.
Despite the even score, the ‘Roos still had some control over the game, doubling the Tomahawks shots on goal by the end of the first period, 21-10.
The second started slow, but a power play from a Lac La Hache penalty allowed Kaluzny to get his second of the night.
The second started to sag after the goal, with the ‘Roos being goaded into playing the Tomahawks’ game and the Tomahawks waiting patiently for their chance to make things happen.
“We started to play their type of game. We tried to stretch pass and that’s not our type of game We usually come out five guys together and when we got away from that we played right into their hands,” Holmes said.
That chance came on another ‘Roos penalty at 8:55, which resulted in a Tomahawks goal at 7:25.
Another ‘Roos’ penalty not a minute later resulted in another power play goal from the point to give the Tomahawks the go ahead.
Hampered by penalties, the ‘Roos couldn’t manage much on the offensive, though a couple of nice chances, including a shorthanded charge that had the puck ringing off the post, kept the crowd optimistic about the ‘Roos’ ability to come back.
Manderson did his part as well, slamming the door on a perfect pass from the corner that had him splayed across the net.
The third started slow, and struggled for any speed, as calls for an even-handed, steady game from the Tomahawks bench saw the Lac La Hache team pull it back to keep themselves from penalty trouble.
The tactic was rewarded when a stream of penalties kept coming the ‘Roos way, keeping the game from picking up pace.
Power play? With six minutes left in the final period, a one-timer by Gilbert off a pass from the corner gave Manderson no chance and gave the Tomahawks a pillow.
Looking defeat square in the eye, the ‘Roos found a spark and a goal with just under two and a half minutes left.
With just a goal separating the two teams, the ‘Roos found their optimism again, pulling their goalie in an effort to press the game into overtime.
Despite the effort, and a heap of pressure from the ‘Roos, they couldn’t sneak it between the posts, leaving the Tomahawks with the victory.
The ‘Roos start a long string of away games in Williams Lake next Saturday. Their next home game is another bat at the Tomahawks, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.