It was supposed to be an evening of celebration, a new era of St. Thomas University hockey: A new arena and a new hope for a struggling program.
It turned out to be everything but that.
The Tommies were on the end of a 7-1 drubbing by the Acadia Axemen Friday night in front of 1238 people as the Tommies turned in yet another lackluster, disappointing performance.
“There’s a lot of families in town, beautiful new facility, there’s a lot out here for us to show thanks for, first period was good, and then our mindset completely changed, and some individuals made some poor decisions and put us into a bit of a hole,” said assistant coach Tim Smith.
The Tommies had the first chance of the game as Randy Cameron’s wrister was turned aside by Axemen goalie Peter DiSalvo. However, the Axemen would take the lead soon after as Christopher Owens’ wrister would find top shelf at the 4:30 mark.
The Tommies rebounded well though, Jonathan Bonneau would go end to end only to see DiSalvo turn his shot aside, and then Bonneau would be denied again as DiSalvo stacked his pads after a Marc-Andre Levesque shot bounced to Bonneau’s stick off the backboards.
“Outcome aside, I thought the first period was a good period for us. We didn’t come in with the lead but I thought we were in a good situation,” Smith said.
The second period saw a flourish of goals. Acadia would go 2-0 up when Dustin Ekelman put in the rebound after Joe Gaynor’s shot bounced off the boards.
The Tommies though would cut the deficit in half on the power play. Bonneau’s shot was saved by DiSalvo but the Axemen defense couldn’t clear the puck and Steve Sanza found the loose puck and slotted home.
All energy that was just built came crashing down 87 seconds later though as Acadia restored their two goal lead as Mike Cazzola’s centering pass bounced off the pad of Tommies goalie Jonathan Groenheyde into the net.
“I think that was just the start of what was going to turn into a pretty ugly evening,” Smith said of the third Axemen goal.
Andrew Clark would then get in on the action as he tapped home from close range to make it 4-1.
It would only get worse for the Tommies. Groenheyde would get a 10 minute game misconduct for what Smith described as “shooting his mouth off.” Head coach Troy Ryan made the decision to pull Groenheyde and send Justin Collier in for the rest of the game.
“Troy made the decision that at that point we had already seen too many selfish decisions made on the ice. It was an opportunity for him [Ryan] to take him out at that point and explain that it’s just not going to be acceptable,” Smith said.
Clark would make it 5-1 almost immediately after the goalie change as the Tommies defense cleared the puck into the slot for Clark to blast home.
The third period wouldn’t get any better. Clark got his hat-trick goal a minute into the period. A nice spin pass from Joel Ridgeway had the Tommies defense fooled and Clark calmly slotted the puck past Collier to make it 6-1.
A minute and a half later it was 7-1 as Owens grabbed his second goal of the game from the slot after receiving a nice pass from Cazzola.
The Tommies were outshot 37-13 and racked up 34 penalty minutes. Another telling stat was that the Axemen won 46 face-offs, while the Tommies won just 22.
Smith says that the players need to begin playing more as a team if they are to find any success.
“I think there are some guys who need to step up in certain situations for us and make better decisions, team decisions, not personal decisions.”
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