Like the infamous coyote, the Jr. A Niagara Predators chased the Durham Roadrunners all night but never quite managed to catch their fleet-footed opponents last Friday.
In their only game of the week, the Predators lost 6-3 to the now second-place Roadrunners – but, according to head coach Kevin Taylor, the effort was certainly there.
“I was disappointed in the outcome but happy with the performance,” said Taylor.
However, for everything they did right, Taylor felt the slip-ups were still enough to make the difference in Durham’s favour.
“We’re not good enough to make mistakes against a team like that. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
“If you want to compete against the top teams, you have to be almost perfect. And that’s what it comes down to, whatever team makes the fewest mistakes. And we made some mistakes that were costly.”
The chase was on early for the Predators, with Durham getting their first goal three minutes in and earning another after 11. But with less than a minute to go in the first period, Nick Savoie scored on the power play, keeping things close.
Durham notched another pair in the first 11 minutes of the second period for a three-goal lead but Leo Savin tightened the gap with a tally at 11:26.
The Roadrunners made some space with their fifth marker early in the final 20 minutes, only for Niagara’s Alexander Andrews to net a third marker for his team with 14:23 left on the clock. But an empty-netter for Durham in the final minute sent the Predators home hungry.
While the chase may be entertaining for some, Taylor is certainly not a fan of his team having to spend the night playing catch-up.
“We can’t be giving these teams three-goal leads, four-goal leads and then decide we’re going to come back and play. We don’t have the team to do that,” he said. “We have to tidy up our mistakes.”
The match had a noticeably different atmosphere compared to the previous home game against Durham, with considerably less rowdiness from the Roadrunners both on the ice and in the stands. Taylor thinks there are a couple reasons their opponents were less vocal, including the close the score compared to the last time around when Durham won 6-1.
“That’s the difference I think. Maybe somebody said something to them about it last time but it wasn’t a walkthrough like they thought,” he said.
“They’re still a team we want to compete with and I think we did compete but we just didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”
Despite the loss, the Predators remain tied for fourth place with the St. George Ravens and Tottenham Thunder with 29 points apiece in the Greater Metro Hockey League’s south division.
While Niagara has one fewer win than the Ravens and Thunder, they have games in hand and have played the fewest games of any team in the division.
But if they hope to finish the regular season in a favourable position, the Predators cannot afford many more losses.
Their next game is against Tottenham – against whom they have a perfect 4-0 record – and Taylor says his team will be preparing for the last stretch of the season.
“I think we’re just going to regroup this week and have some good practices and work on the things you can’t really prepare for with Tottenham or Windsor so you just work on the things you need to for the playoffs.”
The Predators host the Thunder this Friday, Jan. 27, at the Meridian Credit Union Arena. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.