The West Nipissing Lynx dropped their final three games of 2021, including two at home in heartbreaking fashion, losing by one goal to the Almaguin Spartans and Bradford Bulls on back-to-back nights.
In the midst of a seven-game losing streak heading into the holidays, the Lynx frustration showed on Friday night. Though they outshot the Spartans 59-33, they couldn’t get the tying goal late. Instead, Jack McLeod took a fighting major with 11 seconds left, ending any comeback bid.
“They’re frustrated for sure,” said head coach Jeff Mancini. “We did a lot of things right tonight, we dominated the play for I think 50 minutes of that game and we’re at a stage where we don’t know how to close out a game. We don’t know how to battle in these tight ones. We’ve lost that a little in the last stretch because, frankly, we haven’t been in a tight one in a while. We’ve got to keep working on what we’re working on, there’s been a lot of positive practices the last two weeks and these guys are going to find a way to score… Ultimately, you can talk about defence and all this other stuff, but whoever scores the most goals wins the hockey game.”
West Nipissing leapt out to an early lead on a goal by Hunter Chiblow. The Lynx had an opportunity to add to their edge after Almaguin’s Gustav Stikans took a five-minute major, but their powerplay opportunity was cut short after Braden Simon got hit with a major of his own. The Spartans added three goals while Simon was in the box: two on the powerplay and one at four-on-four.
“That one penalty cost us, potentially – because we scored one on the powerplay already – that potentially cost us two to three and added three for them,” rued Mancini. “That’s your turning point of the game, (…) that was the key incident. And you know, it’s a tall guy with a small guy and the stick gets in the wrong spot. They initiated a cross check and I don’t think Braden had any intention to hit him high, it’s just a height difference.”
The Lynx managed to claw their way back to an even game by the third period, on goals by Chase Kanasawe-Jacko and Caleb Boylan. But staring down a chance to get their first home win since Nov. 6, they just couldn’t close it out. The Spartans took the lead mid-way through the third on what Mancini described as a “comedy of errors by the whole team.” There was a scramble in front of the net that resulted in Chris Locke scoring the game-winner while on his back.
West Nipissing had another five-minute powerplay to close out the third period after Mathieu Savignac suffered a knee-on-knee hit. The Lynx’ leading scorer stayed down for a while before getting helped off the ice. He didn’t dress the next two games.