Friday hosted another night of ‘should have, could have’. The Port Huron Icehawks dropped their sixth game in seven attempts.
The lowly Flint Generals outshot the Hawks 35-27.
Worse, the 3-1 Feb. 12 defeat was not the sort of Valentine gift Port Huron needed.
“Flint came out and dominated us in the first period,” Port Huron goalie Larry Sterling said. “There is no way Flint should ever be able to dominate us. They are just not as good as us.”
Flint scored a power play goal six minutes into the opening period.
“The first goal was scored on an offensive zone penalty,” Port Huron Coach Stan Drulia said. “Give Sterling credit. He made at least four or five brilliant saves to keep us in the game.”
In the second period, Port Huron’s Brandon Kaleniecki scored his third goal in seven games, six seconds into a Flint power play.
The Hawks were unable to sustain pressure and the Generals regained the lead before the buzzer sounded to end the second.
“We have to pay a price to score goals,” Drulia said. “We are not paying that price. Some guys are trying to do too much and some guys are not doing enough.”
The slump affects the way players handle the pace of the game.
“You are going to have surges throughout the game,” Drulia said. “You have to handle the ebbs and flows. The guys have to weather the opponent surges and be smart. When there’s the opportunity to get the puck down the ice you got to get it deep.”
With seconds remaining in the third period, ex-Hawk Bryan Smolinski sealed the victory with an open net goal.
The loss had Hawk Tab Lardner shaking his head.
“This is very frustrating,” Lardner said. “It will take some doing to get out of this slide. We have to stay positive and go from there.”
Sterling did not see this game as just a loss of two points.
“It’s hard to erase a game like this because we’re fighting for each point,” he said. “Muskegon and Fort Wayne are playing well. In a race like this we cannot afford to drop two points to a team like Flint. We just cannot do it.”
The first-place Muskegon Lumberjacks visit McMorran on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Game time is 7 p.m. Ex-Detroit Red Wing and Bruise Brother Joe Kocur will sign autographs during the first period. For further Icehawks information, visit www.porthuronicehawks.com.