Nest eggs: Ice Hawks still not up to speed

It was an ugly weekend for the Rochester Ice Hawks. The two-loss effort saw the Ice Hawks get blown out at home (7-0 against the Ducks) and then surrender a two-goal third-period lead (6-5 against the Blades).

After starting the season without a regulation loss in 10 games, the Ice Hawks have now lost eight of their past nine games.

Though his team is light years from coach Nick Fatis hopes it will be by season's end, it's not all doom and gloom for the Ice Hawks.

Even in Friday's 7-0 loss to the Minnesota Junior Hockey League-leading Dells Ducks, the Ice Hawks played very well at times. The game was 0-0 five minutes into the second period.

For 25 minutes of the game, the Ice Hawks skated right along with the Ducks and matched their scoring chances.


"Honestly, in the first period, we could have been ahead," Fatis said. "But we were missing three of our top scorers, and you could really see that. But we stuck with them. I'm not going to say we win the game if we score a couple there in the first, but it definitely would have made a drastic difference.

"For the first probably 30 minutes of that game we were counter-punching them. We were pinning them in their zone and when we got pinned, we were never in serious danger. After that, it fizzled out. Nothing felt the same. Our mental status wasn't good, and fixing that is something we're working on."

Saturday setback

For much of Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Blades, the Ice Hawks held a lead. But they let up too much in the third period, and that lead was quickly erased.

"We played well in spots," Fatis said. "I think the bottom line is we're still not playing Ice Hawks hockey yet. Even when we're getting some bounces, we're still not doing all the things we need to do."

Captain's practice

After the disappointing weekend, the Ice Hawks team captains asked Fatis if they could run practice Monday.

"They felt they didn't deserve the ice Monday morning, so they sat up in the stands and held a team meeting," Fatis said. "I feel like our team leadership is solid. I really like out leaders."


Fatis said the fans, and most importantly the coaching staff, must remember this is an entirely new team. They're very young, too, and most of them have never played together.

"We just have to remember this is a much different team than we've had the last three years," Fatis said. "Even two seasons ago, we had like nine skaters who aged out. This year, we have just two. These guys have plenty of junior hockey left. They'll keep learning."

Bad news

During the game Saturday, the Ice Hawks received some horrible news.

Kevin Kenny, who plays for the Pittsburgh Vengeance, was hit from behind in a North American Tier 3 Hockey League game and suffered a severe spinal cord injury. Kenny was left paralyzed and in a coma.

Ice Hawks defenseman Vinnie Susi and forward Dan Trageser both played with Kenny last season in Pittsburgh. Susi and Kenny were very close, so he took the news extremely hard, Fatis said.

"We found out during the game that it happened, and we tried to keep it out of the locker room," Fatis said. "But word spread, and it's hard to stay focused when you hear something like that. (Kenny) is one of Susi's best friends. I know he's going to head home here some time and spend time with family. The young man is in a coma right now, but Vinnie wants to be there for him. It's disheartening news to hear about something like that for the entire sport of hockey and especially for that young man."

Goalie work


For the first time in a long time, the Ice Hawks don't have one of the top goalies in the MnJHL statistically.

In fact, all three Ice Hawks netminders have save percentages under 90 percent.

Fatis said right now he thinks the goalies are falling into a few bad habits that will be corrected.

"We are finding that our goalies are getting beat nine different ways from Sunday, and that's not a knock on the goalie's ability, it's a knock on what's happening in front of them," Fatis said. "They need to start having more trust, more trust in the system and more trust in their defensemen. Right now I see the goalies worrying about where the recovery save is going to have to be made, rather than worrying about making that first save."

Fatis said Rainer Londino-Green has looked great in practice, and he may have earned some playing time.

His next chance could be at 7 p.m. Saturday at home against the Edina Lakers.

"I'm not worried about the goalies; we've got three very good ones," Fatis said.

Injury update


Ludo Duncko will rejoin the team this weekend. The team's leading scorer was not injured, but he had to return home to Slovakia to secure a visa for the remainder of the season.

Both Griffen Buck and Alec Martin returned to action last weekend, though Fatis said they're both still less than 100 percent. Nick Paulson and Josiah Habighorst are both skating again, but Fatis said they're questionable for the weekend.

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