Despite getting off to a promising start, the Jr. A Niagara Predators had another disappointing weekend, suffering back-to-back losses though they did manage to squeeze out one point.
Playing the North York Renegades in Virgil last Friday night, the Predators were forced into overtime and lost 6-5. The outcome is still an improvement compared to their 9-0 loss to North York a week earlier.
“It was a tough loss. I don’t think there’s ever a kind of good loss, but I’m happy with how they played,” said Predators’ head coach Kevin Taylor.
“They were doing everything we wanted them to do, the only thing they didn’t do is keep a lead. That’s something that we’ll learn through the season is how to win. Right now we don’t know how to win.”
North York started off the scoring but Niagara’s Tyler Gearing tied things up on the power play six minutes into the game. A tally by Dawson Walker three minutes into the second period had the Predators out front but a pair of goals for the Renegades put the home team down by one after 40 minutes.
An explosive third period saw power play goals for Nick Savoie and Leo Savin a minute apart to give Niagara a one-goal lead with just over 10 minutes to go, only for North York to tie things up at the 10:05 mark.
Then Anthony Tropea netted Niagara’s fifth of the night but the Preds could not hold onto the lead with Renegade Nikolai Salov forcing the extra minutes that would prove Niagara’s undoing.
“You can’t give those types of teams an opportunity to come back and win and that’s what we did,” said Taylor.
“But the boys are happy and what I’m happy about is 9-0 last game against them and tonight we took them to overtime,” he said.
“We get a point I don’t think anyone expected and what was even nicer is when you lose a game and you come off the ice and the fans are still clapping.”
But somewhere between Friday night in Virgil and Sunday afternoon in Windsor things changed for the Predators.
After holding their own against North York – who sit in the top spot for the Greater Metro Hockey League’s south division – Niagara lost 4 -1 to the (now) 2-15-0 Windsor Aces.
“I can’t even pinpoint what happened, our guys didn’t come out to play,” said Taylor.
“They played so well on Friday and then they just did a complete 180 the other way. There’s no explanation. They didn’t skate, they didn’t hit, they didn’t shoot, they tried to make fancy plays.”
Niagara’s only goal came from Tropea 14:41 into the first period, which tied things 1-1. A goal-per-period for Windsor after that sent the Predators home without a win.
Facing a bench of just 10 skaters, Taylor said the game plan was simple.
“Take the body, wear them down and by the end of the night you’ll have full run of the rink. And they just couldn’t do it.”
Problems with team dynamics are potentially contributing to losses, though he declined to go into specifics.
“I’m addressing a couple internal issues. From what I’m told, one of the internal issues is what’s bothering the team,” he said.
“There’s some things that have been brought to my attention that need to be addressed and they will be addressed.”
Ahead of their upcoming game at home against the Aces, Taylor is hoping a new addition to his offence will provide some leadership or at least fill a sort of motivational role.
“We don’t have that guy who will just be like, ‘Enough, I’m going to go out and get two goals.’ They’re all waiting for somebody else.”
The Predators face-off against the Windsor Aces this Friday, Nov. 18, at the Meridian Credit Union Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.