PRESCOTT VALLEY - This could be exactly what the 2012-13 Arizona Sundogs needed to build their confidence.
After starting the season with an 0-1-1 record at the Allen (Texas) Americans last week, the Sundogs returned home to Tim's Toyota Center realizing that they had to improve their penalty killing and find a way to pull out the close games.
In front of an announced crowd of 3,113 at Friday night's home opener, Arizona did just that in a 3-2 victory over the high-powered Missouri Mavericks.
By picking up their first win, the Sundogs are now 1-1-1 heading into tonight's two-game series finale against the Mavericks (1-1-1). The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.
"It's big for us - we wanted to win our home opener to get the fans coming back," said Sundogs defenseman David Schlemko, who tallied an assist Friday.
Arizona forward Chad Nehring scored two goals, including one apiece in the first and second periods, and forward Mikael Bedard added the other in a tight, physical game.
The Sundogs outscored Missouri 2-0 in the pivotal second period to carry a 3-1 lead into the third.
Arizona captain Jason Morgan said his club's execution improved Friday. The Sundogs surrendered six power play goals and had none of their own in that category against Allen last week.
"We had a lot of things to improve on from last weekend, and the big thing was special teams," Morgan said. "Tonight we improved that part of our game immensely, and give credit to the guys, who had a good week of practice."
The Mavericks netted their only power-play goal almost 7 minutes into the final period to trim Arizona's lead to 3-2. Missouri's Derek LeBlanc lined a shot from above the left circle that raced past Sundogs goalie David Brown with only five seconds remaining in the power play.
Despite not being able to convert on two power plays late in the third, the Sundogs held on - thanks in large part to Schlemko's aggressiveness with the puck and Brown's gritty performance in goal.
Sundogs coach David Lohrei said after watching the Mavs on film this week, he didn't see any weaknesses.
"We got some bounces and we worked hard, and that made the difference tonight," he said. "At the end of the day, we came out in the third period and played hard."
Brown, who lost 4-0 in last Friday's season opener at Allen, bounced back in a big way, making 38 saves on 40 shots, as he went the full 60 minutes. Arizona shut down Missouri's skilled forwards and managed to turn pucks over.
"We had a good push there on that last power play," said Schlemko, who's on loan from the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL lockout. "We didn't get a goal, but we had some momentum, and it led us to the win."
Missouri, a Turner Conference playoff finalist last winter that succumbed to eventual CHL champion Fort Wayne (Ind.) Komets in seven games, did not let up on Arizona.
But Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said he was disappointed that his team failed to score in the second period after taking 17 shots on goal.
"They handled us extremely well (late in the third period) because we didn't get out of our zone," he said of the Sundogs' defense. "The missed opportunity was in the second period."
Tied 1-1 at the end of the first period, the Sundogs pulled ahead 2-1 two minutes into the second on an even-strength goal from Bedard via defenseman Kyle Schussler.
About a minute after a penalty kill, with 8:24 remaining, Nehring redirected Schlemko's blistering line-drive shot near the blue line and into the Missouri goal's top shelf for the 3-1 edge.
"All the guys wanted to rebound from last weekend," Morgan said. "It's still early in the season and we're still trying to gel as a team, but that was a great win."
Posted: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Article comment by:
So much for the "Cheap prices" and the "We don't need to make a lot of money" The beers were indeed i think $1 or $2 dollars cheaper than previous yrs, but the so called "meal deals" were still just as ridiculous in price as always. In fact the one thing my kids loved and was the cheaper thing on the menu last yr the Chicken finger and fries was $6 previous years and now has gone up to $8...sigh ......As for the lines they might have gone a tad faster but the intermissions were still just as crowded and slow as always i guess that was all just politician talk...