The West Nipissing Lynx dropped the battle for top spot in the North Division, losing an ugly 7-1 game to the Temiscaming Titans on Saturday night, Oct. 23.
West Nipissing was hot coming into the game, winners of four-straight including games over New Tecumseth (5-3) and South Muskoka (4-2) the previous week. But presented with a chance to knock off their heated rival for share of first place in the division, a shorthanded Lynx team couldn’t rise to the challenge.
“I think for those four games everybody was going hard, we had all three lines rolling and our systems were good,” said captain Chad Lafortune after the game. “I think just for this game we maybe got a bit too much confidence and… that’s the way she goes sometimes.”
The Lynx now sit at 5-2 on the young season, with both losses coming at the hands of the Titans.
West Nipissing was short four skaters for this game, including important pieces like forward Tobias Odjick and defenceman River Gull. But no matter who is in the lineup, the Lynx aren’t going to win many games scoring just one goal, which was the case Saturday after West Nipissing went 0-for-5 on the powerplay.
“We want to try and give as many guys opportunities on the power play because this is the kind of league where you have guys absent, suspended, injured; and you need to have everyone pulling in the right direction,” said head coach Jeff Mancini of his young lineup following the loss. “I think it goes back to (being) a little bit nervous: obviously this was our biggest game of the year to this point, and (Temiscaming) answered the bell and we came out a little flat and timid. We’ve got a lot of young kids with a lot of bright futures, and this is a valuable lesson for them, they got valuable reps. If you battle right to the end, that’s a two or three goal game tops, not a 7-1 game.”
The Titans’ Jérôme Rochefort took a five-minute major for checking from behind just 20 seconds after the puck dropped, but West Nipissing couldn’t capitalize on the lengthy man advantage. Then halfway through the first, Temiscaming opened the scoring beautifully when Ilya Badanin was left alone in front of the net, redirected a high pass off his knee and batted it out of the air over a sprawled-out Cory Richardson.
That was the way the night went for Richardson, who was named player of the game for the Lynx after stopping a whopping 42 shots in the loss. Between clear breakaways, cross-crease passes and tipped shots in front, the West Nipissing goalie didn’t have much of a chance on most of the Titan tallies.