Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hockey Falls from the Ranks of the Unbeaten, Suffers Tough Loss to Smithfield, 3-2

The students and fans at Smithfield high school were ready for this one. Take a look:

All of which, of course, makes last night's loss to the Smithfield Sentinels a tough one. 

It'd probably be pretty fair to say that most people in attendance at Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink last night expected the Hawks to win, possibly even win big. While the Sentinels are certainly a good team - as their record indicates - merely judging by some of the scattered commentary in the stands leading up to game time, the prevailing sentiment seemed to be for a Hawks' win. 

On this count, there were two problems for the Hawks: first, based on the seeming level of their play for the first period-and-a-half, one might think that the Hawks may have felt the same way; second, the people in the stands don't play the game, and none of them told the Sentinels. 

As last night's contest was broadcast live right here on The Network, viewers can draw their own conclusions. While it would certainly be unfair to say that our guys played poorly, which they certainly didn't, as evidenced by their play during the last 1 1/2 periods of the game and into overtime - it would seem fair to say that they came out of the gate somewhat flat. It took the Hawks a while to bring their skates up-to-speed. 

While that was happening, the Sentinels seemed to everywhere on the ice, playing aggressive offense (even when the Hawks were on power plays, the Sentinels were forcing the play into the Hawks' end) and irritating, pesky defense. Our guys just couldn't get anything going. The Sentinels may have awoken the Hawks to an extent with an early first-period goal off the stick of Dave Gaulin, but as the Hawks seemingly continued to skate one stride behind their opponents even into the second period, the Sentinels' Pat Simons fired the shot that truly got the attention of everyone in the rink as he put the Sentinels up 2-0 early in the second frame. 

From there, the momentum clearly shifted, as the sleeping Hendricken giant finally woke up, and in a span of approximately three minutes tied the score at 2, with goals coming off the stick of Andrew Fera...

...and Patrick Creamer.

With the score tied at 2 going into intermission, the sense was once again that this would be a Hawks' victory, probably going away. Once again, however, nobody told the Sentinels. 

The final period was extremely well-played and very aggressive on both sides, as the teams searched for that one play and goal that would most likely permanently tip the momentum their way. Despite the hard play on both sides, that edge never materialized, and the teams went into the five-minute overtime period knotted at 2. 

During the overtime, the Hawks continued to play well, even managing to kill off a pressure-packed two-minute penalty. With 1:43 remaining in overtime, however, the Sentinels' Pat Simons once again dented the net with a backhand flip that just sliced by the Hawks' Matt Kenneally (19 saves on the night), sending the Hawks home for the night and giving the Sentinels a hard-earned 3-2 win.

Overall, it was a very good game. While no one wants to lose a game, the loss might end up having a positive effect, as our guys may have needed that subtle wake-up call. The Hawks will need to shake this one off quickly, as they continue play tonight at Barrington. Game time is 6 pm.