Tahoe Icemen swept by Southern Oregon, moving forward under Collins
Tahoe vs. Seattle
Dec. 11-13 at SLT Ice Arena
In its first WSHL Northwest Division series of the season against a team outside the top three, the Tahoe Icemen delivered strong performances despite not picking up a victory. The Icemen were swept by Southern Oregon in a three-game series at SLT Ice Arena Nov. 20-22, extending their winless streak to 20 games.
In the series opener last Friday, Nov. 20, Tahoe came the closest it has to a victory all season. The Icemen fell to Southern Oregon 4-3, suffering a one-goal defeat after falling behind by two in the second period.
“We played well — we came out hard and we finished hard,” Icemen coach Chris Collins said. “We didn’t stop hitting from the first and kept hitting through the third.”
Tahoe traded goals with the Spartans in the first period, tying the game 1-1 when Kevin Hodsdon scored off an assist from Zach Forrest with 14:26 left in the opening frame. The Icemen again answered a Southern Oregon goal in the second period, converting a power play when Maksim Akimychau found the back of the net assisted by Artsiom Surmach.
Southern Oregon scored twice more in the second period to take a 4-2 lead into the second intermission. The Icemen produced the third period’s lone goal — John Moffat scored off assists from Phillipe Pepin and Hodsdon — but couldn’t rally to avoid defeat.
“We scored three power play goals and capitalized on our opportunities,” Collins said.
Tymen Edelkoort III started in goal for Tahoe on Friday night, and stopped 60 shots in the loss. The Canadian goaltender made his Icemen debut in the series along with defenseman Austin Naylor and forward Zach Houck — all three were acquired from Southern Oregon.
“Our team is a lot more physical because of them and they lead by example,” Collins said. “The team has only been picked up since we’ve gotten them.”
On Saturday, Nov. 21, Tahoe started slow en route to a 6-1 loss to Southern Oregon. The Spartans scored three first-period goals on the way to a second straight victory over the Icemen.
Tahoe had trouble staying out of the penalty box in the first period Saturday, and Southern Oregon took advantage. The Icemen trailed 3-0 at the first intermission, after allowing a pair of power play goals and committing six minor penalties.
“It’s hard to win a game from the box, and that’s what we did,” Collins said. “The first thing that goes when you’re tired is your head, and the first thing to happen when you’re playing a kill is that you get tired — it all goes hand in hand.”
After a scoreless second period, the Icemen struck first in the final frame when Taylor Garner flipped in a one-time shot on the power play. The goal assisted by Edgar Gonzalez and Colton Lanzowski made it 3-1 less than a minute into the third period, but Southern Oregon answered with three straight goals to win the game going away.
“We’re just not capitalizing on the chances we’re getting,” Collins said. “It’s a continuous struggle with scoring.”
In the series finale on Sunday, Nov. 22, Tahoe fell to Southern Oregon by a 5-2 margin. The loss was the Icemen’s 20th straight to start the season.
Tahoe (0-20) currently sits in last in the Northwest Division. The Icemen are in the bottom half of the top-heavy division along with Whitefish (4-15), Seattle (2-15-0-2) and Butte (1-18-0-1).
“We’re following the systems, we’ve tightened up our defensive zone and we’re scoring a lot more than we did before,” Collins said.
The Icemen have played their last three games under the direction of Collins, who moved to head coach following the dismissal of Tom Maroste. Maroste began the season as the franchise’s head coach and GM, and now Tahoe is moving forward in the 2015-16 campaign without him.
“It’s a conversation we don’t really bring up in the locker room anymore because we’re moving forward,” Collins said. “We’re changing up the systems — we’re not going to keep what wasn’t working.”
The Icemen return to action with a three-game home series against Seattle beginning Friday, Dec. 11, at SLT Ice Arena. Friday and Saturday’s games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. — the puck drops for Sunday’s finale at 2 p.m.