Here’s how it went down in my post-game chat with Trenton Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky:
Q: Another tough loss for you guys, I guess what can you really say after that one?
Kowalsky: “We’ve got to bear down and score goals. We only gave up two. It’s not like we didn’t have chances. I don’t know why we can’t find the back of the net. I thought at the end, towards the second half of the third period, we were trying to get too cute. We haven’t done that all year. We’ve just got to find a way to score some goals. If we sat here and said we didn’t have any chances, I’d be really disappointed. It’s just frustrating. We’re getting the chances, and it’s just not going in.”
Q: Johnstown seemed to be the one team you guys could rely on beating this year. Is it more frustrating to lose to them given how things had gone earlier this year against them? And what was the difference between this game and the last three?
Kowalsky: “I thought they played well tonight. Obviously, their goaltender played well. The power play’s got to…we don’t score on the power play, and that can be a game breaker. It was tonight. These guys have just got to find a way to bear down when they have chances and find a way to score goals.”
Q: You’ve talked a lot about the young guys needing to step up this season, and Combs did come through with a goal for you tonight. But overall, are you seeing enough out of the young guys as a whole this year?
Kowalsky: “Well, I just think right now every loss is so frustrating because we’re trying to play catch up and trying to get some momentum. We’re trying to take a couple steps on the weekend and one step back today. We felt coming in that we really needed to win. It’s frustrating. I’m not going to sit here and say those guys aren’t frustrated. Like I said, the guys got chances. Chance after chance after chance. It doesn’t go in. I don’t know. I wish I had the answer. Why we were not able to score…the power play’s one thing, but the chances we had five-on-five, it’s just not going in.
Q: Harder’s released, Henkel’s not back, T-Kell is out…is there somewhat of a void in veteran leadership on this team with some of the younger guys who need to get it going?
Kowalsky: “I don’t know that I’d say that. I think these guys have an opportunity. I think these guys are playing. Eves and Kell will come back, but I think it comes down to consistency and doing the same thing every night regardless of whether you’re scoring or not. Like I said, I think there’s guys here who have a history of scoring. Ginand, Combs, even Vokes was the leading scorer at Brown last year. It’s a different game, the pro game. These kids have to realize it’s not going to be easy and keep plugging away. The only thing I can say is maybe to potentially change personnel on the power play and stuff like that. We’ve got to find a way to score goals.”
Q: Is the power play the key to turning this team around?
Kowalsky: “Well, it can win you games. We had opportunities tonight. Specialty teams are so important, and we ended up killing two 5–on-3’s, and that could have been the game there, it wouldn’t have ended up as close as it was, obviously. The power play has always been a big part of what we’ve done here. We’ve got to score at least a goal a game, depending on how many power plays you get. Tonight, that’s the difference.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com