By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The Jets ended the 2010 calendar year on a down note Sunday night after dropping a 7-6 shootout decision to the Spruce Grove Regals. Although taking one point for a contest against the CJHL West Division’s second-ranked club would normally be an acceptable situation, the loss was the Jets third in a week. The Jets were defeated 4-0 in Sherwood Park Dec. 14 and suffered a 7-5 loss to the Beverley Warriors Dec. 17.
The trilogy of defeats gave the Jets but one point of a possible six and brought the club’s record to 12-11-5 heading into 2011 and the remainder of the CJHL season.
Sunday night’s road game to Spruce Grove left the Jets trailing 2-1 at the end of the opening frame. The Jets only goal of the period was scored on the powerplay by Ryan Hauptman.
Not feeling intimidated by Spruce Grove’s one-goal lead, Dalen Paul brought the contest to a tie 49 seconds into the second period. And although Spruce Grove answered back to pull ahead by two, the Jets scored another three within a period of just over a minute to bring the contest to 5-4 in Morinville’s favour. By period’s end, Morinville still had the lead at 6-5.
But a series of penalties robbed the Jets of a man for eight minutes during the final frame. With Regal Brendan McCalpin in the box for roughing, teammate Tyler McCalpin pocketed a shorthanded goal for the Regals with 42 seconds left on the clock, driving the contest into overtime.
The game was finally decided in a shootout with Spruce Grove adding another two points to their tally.
Work to do before playoffs
The Jets end the 2010 calendar year ranked in fifth place in the West Division; however, they have played more games than any of the other six clubs in the division. As such, the Jets could drop to sixth slot if the Edmonton Mustangs are successful in their next outing.
With 10 games left in the regular season, the Jets have some work ahead of them to close the gap between themselves and the four clubs who stand higher on the CJHL West Division ladder.
While victories over the Stony Plain Flyers, Fort Saskatchewan Hawks and Strathcona Bruins seem likely, there is no certainty in the Jets achieving a positive outcome in those contests. Given that five of the club’s remaining contests are against teams in the upper half of both divisions, the Jets will need to continue to stay out of the box, capitalize on their chances and keep their heads in the game for a full 60 minutes if they are to position themselves well heading into playoffs.
The Jets next game is Jan. 4 against the Spruce Grove Regals.