IceGators Lose In Heartbreaking Fashion To RiverKings
LAFAYETTE, La.--If the Louisiana IceGators could turn back time, they’d like to rewind Thursday night and replay their game against the Mississippi RiverKings.
The IceGators gave an error-filled performance in the Cajundome that culminated with the RiverKings’ Linden Bahm scoring back-to-back goals in the final minute to deal the IceGators a heartbreaking 3-1 loss.
The IceGators return to action Friday night when they host the Columbus Cottonmouths in the Cajundome. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m.
“This was just another home game for us,” a frustrated IceGators head coach Drew Omicioli said. “Again, we got outworked. We didn’t capitalize on our chances. We didn’t do anything well. It was a lackluster performance. I don’t understand why we play this way at home, but there’s zero excuse for it.
“I don’t think (the RiverKings) came out and did anything different (from last Saturday’s game). We were flat, had minimal hitting, and bad shots. It was the most boring game I’ve ever watched. I’m just so tired of losing at home, and I know the fans are. It’s one thing if you go out and give 100 percent and the puck’s not bouncing, but you’d have to be blind to think we gave 100 percent after watching this game.”
The RiverKings capitalized on major IceGators error at the 12:37 mark of the third period. Ryan Marcuz, fresh out of the penalty box, took and Ian Young feed and skated up ice to score a breakaway goal after putting a two-time deke on IceGator goalie Brad Barone.
That goal gave IceGators fans and players a like a sense of déjà vu.
“It’s such a letdown at this point because goals like that have happened so often with so many different guys on the ice,” Omicioli said. “I think--and this is crazy-- that I’m going to have to keep a defenseman at the blue line to prevent those kinds of goals from happening.”
The IceGators bounced back in the third period, taking advantage of a power play that carried over from the second period.. Luke Sandler tipped in a Dylan Hood shot 45 seconds into the frame to tie the game. Mike Kavanagh also assisted on the score.
The IceGators, though, committed too many self-inflicted wounds and gave the game to Mississippi on a silver platter.
With 57 seconds remaining in regulation, Mike Grace launched a shot from the left point. Bahm deflected the shot, sending it skidding slowly by Barone into a wide-open net. Despite a last ditch dive by Barone to make the save, the puck trickled across the goal line to put Mississippi ahead 2-1.
Forty-two seconds later, Bahm gave the RiverKings an insurance goal on an empty net.
“We didn’t deserve to win that game,” Omicioli said. “We gave up an absolute garbage goal to lose that game. Our winger didn’t get out and stop the puck, and it goes in. You put a radar gun on it, the puck went in at maybe four miles per hour.”
Omicioli says games like this, especially after coming off of a spectacular road series like the IceGators had last week, hurts the team’s morale.
“I’m trying my hardest to stay positive, but it’s so hard when you have performances like this,” Omicioli said. “This is a game of winning battles. For 120 minutes on the road, we won battles and got 78 shots on net. Tonight, we played a mistake-filled game. We need production from guys who are supposed to be producing, but we’re getting it from only a handful of guys.”
Omicioli adds that he hopes the anger and heartbreak the team is feeling following this loss will transformed into aggression and motivation for Friday night’s contest against Columbus.
“We’ll be playing a team that’s coming in fresh and that’s going to work their butts off,” Omicioli said. “We’re going to be in a battle. We’ll have to see how we respond.”