Lackluster play costs Ice Hawks
For a good chunk of the second period Friday night, the Rochester Ice Hawks appeared to be going through the motions.
The lackluster play was exacerbated by a speedy and talented Minnesota Flying Aces team that already had handed the Ice Hawks a loss this season at the Rochester Recreation Center.
The Ice Hawks seemed to wake up in the third, scoring a goal to force overtime. But in the extra session, the Flying Aces put together a pretty passing play and finished a chance to claim a 3-2 Minnesota Junior Hockey League victory in front of the 711 fans who braved the snowy weather.
Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis was extremely upset with his team's performance after the game. "Yeah, it definitely seemed like we were going through the motions at times," Fatis said. "I'm not sure what it was, what was going on with the effort level. I'm honestly most upset that we didn't adjust to the things they were doing. I'm angry; what happened here was unacceptable."
The Ice Hawks dropped to 17-2-0-1 in MnJHL play. They remain on top of the league with 35 points.
The loss kicks off a three-game weekend. Rochester returns to league play on the road at 7:30 tonight against the Minnesota Owls in Isanti.
Fatis said Friday's loss makes tonight's game pivotal.
"Well, every game is important in this league, but the guys have to react," Fatis said. "They need to respond to what happened here."
The Ice Hawks power play was sharp once again. They finished with two power-play goals, though there were several other opportunities to light the lamp with the man advantage.
"The chances were there; the power play is fine," Fatis said. "We definitely need to do a better job of finishing our chances when they're there."
The Ice Hawks jumped to a 1-0 lead 5:22 into the first period. Michael Ohlsson walked through the Flying Aces defense, racing up the far boards before kicking the puck around a defender. As Ohlsson sliced toward the crease, he pushed the puck through the five hole, finishing the initial pass from Rich Weber.
It's unfortunate, but Ohlsson wasn't on the ice to make any other pretty plays. On his very next shift, Ohlsson went into the corner and took a nasty hit from former Ice Hawks Sam Benson late after a delayed penalty. Fatis said Ohlsson suffered a severe concussion, and it's unclear when he will be able to rejoin the team.
"That's a big blow to our team, to our power play," Fatis said.
After the Ice Hawks' goal, the Flying Aces came right back down the ice and tied the game. Another former Ice Hawk, Dan McCamey scored at the 5:49 mark of the first.
The score remained tied until late in an ugly second period for the Ice Hawks. Cole Reisenauer put the Flying Aces in front with his tally at the 16:55 mark of the second.
The Ice Hawks looked much better in the third. George Jackson tied the game, scoring off of a rebound 7:16 into the final frame. Assists on the power-play tally went to Shaun Walters and Tyler Sheppard.
Rochester had several chances to win the game in regulation. Walters had two point-blank chances in the slot, and another Ice Hawks' chance hit the post when Brock Stahlke let go of a powerful wrist shot.
Just 2:36 into overtime, the Flying Aces finished off the Ice Hawks.
Rochester held a 37-27 edge in shots on goal. Cory Simons, who finished with 24 saves, suffered the loss in goal.