Tahoe Icemen make home debut, show improvement against Missoula
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The Tahoe Icemen ushered in a new era of junior hockey on the South Shore last weekend, Sept. 25-27, and showed improvement despite not picking up a victory. The Icemen were swept by Missoula in a three-game series at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena, in their first action on home ice this season.
“Everyone is excited about it and it’s fun — there’s a lot more energy in the game,” Icemen goaltender Austin Touissant said about the home opener.
On Saturday, Sept. 26, Tahoe fell to Missoula 4-1. The Maulers took a two-goal lead after the first period, and added a pair of goals in the third period to put the game out of reach.
The Icemen’s lone goal in Saturday’s loss came early in the second period, a tally from Colton Langowski assisted by Edgar Gonzalez that made it 2-1. Tahoe started the third period on the power play, but couldn’t get a shot off — seven seconds after killing the penalty, Missoula scored to go back ahead by two goals.
“We didn’t score on our opportunities,” Icemen head coach Tom Maroste said. “When we have opportunities in practice, we light our goalies up.”
Tahoe was outshot 56-22 by Missoula in Saturday’s defeat. Toussaint made 52 saves in the loss, keeping the hosts in the game despite a consistent attack from the Maulers.
“We gave up a lot of shots, but our goaltending has been great all year,” Maroste said.
In Tahoe’s 2015-16 home debut on Friday, Sept. 24, it fell to Missoula 7-4. Gonzalez, Dominic Forino, Zach Forrest and Phillipe Pepin each scored the loss; the Maulers outshot the Icemen 70-36.
The Icemen wrapped up the three-game series with a 9-2 defeat on Sunday, Sept. 27. Langowski and Artsiom Surmach each found the back of the net for Tahoe as Missoula completed the sweep.
“They’re quick, they move the puck and they rely on their defense a lot,” Maroste said of the Maulers. “They move the puck up the ice nice.”
Despite missing four players as the result of suspensions, Tahoe produced closer results last weekend than it did in its season-opening series at Vancouver. In three games against Missoula, the Icemen allowed fewer goals than in their two-game series against the Rangers.
“It’s a ton better and we’ve improved a lot,” Touissant said. “We’re working as a team and we have a lot more defense than we had last week.”
Tahoe (0-5) returns to action Thursday, Oct. 1, when it begins a three-game series at Las Vegas (0-0). The interdivision series starts Thursday at 7 p.m., with games Friday and Saturday, Oct. 2-3, at 6 p.m.
“They’re getting it,” Maroste said. “And once they get it fine tuned, it’s going to be fun to watch us explode.”
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