With a sweep of the San Diego Gulls, the Lake Tahoe Blue broke out of their slump on home ice this weekend.
The Blue has been fighting injuries and suspensions all season, but the weekend sweep righted the slow start. After starting the season 3-6, the Blue improved to 6-6 and first in the Pacific Division, winning 8-2 Friday, 6-4 Saturday and 9-4 Sunday. The Gulls, meanwhile, dug themselves into an 0-5 hole for the second consecutive season start.
It’s no coincidence that during the three wins, the Blue’s Martin Vachal broke out of a slump. The power forward, who played a big role in the Bay Area Seals’ Thorne Cup run last season, collected 10 points during the three games.
Forward Miguel Caron returned to help lead Lake Tahoe in the opener of the three-game set, as the skilled forward notched four points. Veterans Nick Anderson and Vachal also added points as the Blue cruised to an 8-2 win Friday.
The Blue went 2-2 on the power play and controlled the puck with their size for most of the game, with goaltender Troy Turpin taking the win in net, stopping 43 of 45.
Eric Baldwin scored both of the Gulls’ goals in the game and goaltender Brody Cavataio allowed eight goals on 49 shots in the loss.
The next night the two teams went back and forth throughout the 60 minutes, but in the end, the Lake Tahoe big guns were too much to handle again in a 6-4 win for the home team.
It was once again Caron notching four points to lead the Blue, with Vachal and defenseman Kyle Blondin each picking up a pair of points as well. Turpin, who’s been getting the boatload of the work with Olivier Gervais still out with an injury, stopped 27 of 31 in net.
San Diego was led by Michael Leone and Will Parker, who each collected two assists, while Erik Eidissen took the loss in net, allowing five goals on 54 shots.
Again a close game after the opening period of play in the finale, but the Blue used their muscles to pull away late in a 9-4 victory and series sweep.
The veteran Anderson, who now leads the league with 23 points, picked up two goals and three assists in the victory, while Turpin grabbed his third win of the weekend, stopping 34 of 38.
Parker and Baldwin each nabbed two points in the loss for the Gulls and Cavataio allowed nine goals on 57 shots in net.
This was exactly the kind of weekend the Blue needed, as they’ve been nursing injuries and struggling through suspensions, but now sit at 6-6 after 12 tough games to begin the year, which club president Chris Collins told me he’d be more than happy with, before the season.
If they can remain healthy and find the depth they did this weekend, the Blue will continue to rise up the Pacific Division standings.
San Diego is in the same spot they were at this time last season, winless through five tough games.
Last season, they did have a little bit more talent on the roster and weren’t as young and they rebound to win eight straight and with Craig Carlyle at the helm. I wouldn’t bet against them being able to do it again, but they’ll need to start putting the puck in the net.
UP NEXT: The Blue have a bye this weekend and then host the Long Beach Bombers the following weekend, Oct. 25-27.