Rick Kowalsky’s words, not mine.
Mine, actually, probably aren’t fit for print. The ones that are? Yeah, I’d expect an exceptionally harsh game story in the Trentonian tomorrow.|
For starters, Rick is spot on. That game was horrendous. That was the absolute worst I have ever seen the Trenton Devils play. No life, minimal effort, just terrible. They were behind the eight ball to begin with given that they had to deal with 11 forwards and five D, and Justin Coutu went down about five minutes into the game, so Trevor Kell had to play on the blue line.
Now, for what it’s worth, Johnstown started the game a man short, and according to Chiefs head coach Neil Smith, lost another man just before game time because he got sick. Interestingly, Smith seemed to think that being shorthanded actually helped his team.
“With those two guys out of the lineup, we were forced into a simple game,” he said.
“Just doing simple things to try to keep our energy, and the guys executed it as we asked them to. I think it was a combination of good goaltending and our team executing a lot better than they had.”
Do I think Johnstown played well? No, not really. But look at their goals. The first one was what essentially amounted to a 2-on-0 because of a monumental defensive breakdown, the second was a combination of Marshall crashing the net and David Leaderer not turning the right way to break up the pass (he turned parallel to the end boards, not the side boards, therefore not taking up as much space as he could have) and the third was a simple rebound. Simple hockey, like Smith said.
And even with that, the Chiefs still took a handful of bonehead penalties that could have brought Trenton right back into the game. But they weren’t interested in being back in the game.
“I wouldn’t say it was their best effort by any means,” said Chiefs goalie John Murray, who made 29 saves in the shutout.
“But you’ve got to give credit to our guys for coming out and battling. We had a rough weekend, and then to bounce back like this? We shut them down.”
And you do have to give the Chiefs some credit…
“We definitely came out harder tonight,” Murray said.
“We battled, we kept the puck to the perimeter and in the offensive zone and didn’t turn pucks over. We went over that a lot here of late. We definitely limited the amount of turnovers. Before the game, Neil said to play their system and try to keep everything low-key and try to keep the chances down, and to try to keep their type of mentality. I think that really helped us, trying to play into their mentality.”
Smith pointed to Murray as one of the biggest reasons the Chiefs were able to turn things around against Trenton tonight…
“Our goaltender played great,” Smith said.
“Any time your goaltender plays great, you’ve got a good chance to win. And our goaltender didn’t play great the other two times. He didn’t play poor, but he didn’t play great.”
For Johnstown, who has been in the ECHL’s cellar all season, there’s some hope that this type of win could start something of a turnaround.
“I sure hope so, but we go back home and play two nights in a row against the defending champs, South Carolina, ” Smith said.
“It’s hard, we’re looking up at everybody. I’m hoping that this can make us more competitive. Every night you win, you hope that, but we’ve only had three of them since I’ve been here. But what’s really good about tonight, is we lost three straight home games and bounced back from it and came in with no resignation. I’m hoping it can be something that can maybe put us on a little bit of a spurt.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com