Lots of things in this world are about perception, and how appetizing you can make things sound despite the end result. That is, in this case, the idiom that tonight's 3-2 loss, is better than last night's identical result. Why? Well, let's talk about that.
The Nanooks have had interesting storylines to follow in goal. The first 5 games of the season, both Jones and Cahill have played well enough to get the job done. Not amazingly spectacular--save for Jones' shutout of Wisconsin, and Cahill's bagel in Kalamazoo--but both guys were put between the pipes on the right nights to get the win. Since blanking the Broncos in Lawson, the Nanooks have not won a game with either of them. Cahill was a bit suspect last night, and didn't crack the lineup tonight. With Jones getting the start tonight, the defense needed his help a bit early and it wasn't there. Two pretty soft goals he allowed on 5 shots got his plug pulled after the first period. So in comes John Keeney for the first game action between the pipes the junior goaltender has seen this season.
It didn't take long for him to see his first action either. And while the Falcons were able to get one past him to go up 3-0, it could have been much much worse. John Keeney played very well in relief of Jones and it seemed to have sparked the team quite a bit as they got a lot more jump in their step in the 2nd. The team got a pretty decent start to the game overall, except for the one defensive lapse that led to a goal. But the second period took it up a few more notches.
And the tempo paid off with two quick scores for the 'Nooks to close the gap to 3-2 off another monster play by Marcus Basara down low, and a quick give and go for Austin Vieth with Tyler Morley. Those would come just 42 seconds apart midway through the 2nd frame.
The 3rd period is where things get a bit interesting. With about seven minutes left in the game, Trevor Campbell throws a puck high towards the net and Garrick Perry gets a stick on it in front of the crease and deflects it in. From my vantage point, it looked like contact was made with the puck at just above the height of the elbow--about eight inches below the crossbar. The officials waved it off as a high-stick. The same officials that called six penalties in a ten minute span in the first period, then not calling a single penalty again for the rest of the game. Despite watching Parayko and Basara getting bullied for their milk money time and time again, no call. Perry was tripped up on a clear scoring chance six feet out from the net, no call either. Very rough.
That said, the game was much better tonight than last night for the 'Nooks despite the identical results. If you take away the two saveable goals Jones allowed tonight, and correctly call the Perry deflection, the 'Nooks take this one 3-1. Sad that it counts as a 3-2 loss (on John Keeney's record too, sadly) and the losing streak extends to five games. But the Nanooks' have a week off before setting off on their longest road journey of the season to the banks of Lake Superior, and their state University on the northern border of Michigan.