Penalties Plague Jets in final game of the season

Red Wing curtis smith battles Morinville Jet David Hauptman along the boards Friday night. The Jets were defeated in the fourth game of round two playoffs. - Stephen Dafoe Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The 2011 CJHL playoff season came to a disappointing end for the Morinville Jets Friday night. A 9-4 victory for the North Edmonton Red Wings gave the visiting club the third game in a best-of-five quarter final series.

The Jets had taken the first game of the series 4-3, but lost each of the next three games. Although the Jets were not shut out Friday night as they had been Feb. 23, they did struggle with penalties as they had Feb. 20 when they were defeated 7-5.

Friday night’s home-ice game saw the Jets trailing 4-1 after the first period, all four of the Red Wing’s goals scored on the powerplay. Although the Jets managed to work an effective penalty kill during the middle frame, they remained scoreless, giving up another three even-strength goals to the Red Wings to bring the game to a six-goal deficit at 7-1.

But as has been the case in a number of games this year, the Jets gained steam in the final period, trying to do in 20 minutes what they had a full 60 minutes to do – score some goals.

The Jets picked up three goals during the final frame, but additional penalties gave the Red Wings another two powerplay goals and the series at three games to one.

Jets coach Scott Rodda said the game was a tough one to lose but focused on the season overall.

“I told the boys I’m very proud of them,” Rodda said after Friday night’s game. “It didn’t end like we wanted it to. I really thought we could push those guys to five games, but penalties got us in trouble. But at the end of the day, you know what, I’m proud of them. We’ve had a good season.

But while Rodda has good reason to be proud of the club he’s helped coach, not all aspects of the Jets season were as good as it could have been. Penalties plagued the Jets through the regular season and the playoffs. The Jets collected 269 minutes of penalties in six playoff games, an average of just under 45 minutes per game. That ongoing player deficit lead to increased pressure on the Jets defences, pressure the club was not always able to handle.
However , Rodda was not prepared to lay criticism on any one aspect of the Jet machine.

You win and die as a team,” Rodda said. “Twenty-three guys. Offence, defence, goalies, forwards; it’s a team effort. Defensively, as a team, we weren’t as strong as we needed to be. But I’m not blaming the goalies or the defence. We win and lose as 23 guys. At the end of the day, we could have improved on defense. Absolutely.

Now that the 2010-2011 CJHL season is over, Rodda said they will look to next year and rebuild the team for the new season.

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