By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Friday night’s home game loss to the Edmonton Royals, the top-ranked team in the CJHL’s East Division, gave the Jets their third consecutive defeat and pushed the team below .500 hockey. The Jets began their losing streak Oct. 3 with a 6-5 home-ice loss to the North Edmonton Red Wings and followed it with a 3-1 road loss to the Beverley Warriors Oct. 10. Friday night’s 7-2 loss to the Royals brings the Jets’ record to 3-4-1 on the season.
Although the loss did not push the Jets any lower in West Division standings, there is no reason the club could not have defeated the Royals Friday night, despite the latter club holding the top spot in their division. Heading into the game, both clubs were similarly positioned in terms of goals for and against.
The Jets had an average of 5.29 goals per game; the Royals 5.50. With respect to goal tending, the Jets had given up an average of 3.71 goals per game this season; the Royals 3.13. Even Friday night’s game ended with both teams having taken exactly 41 scoring chances.
The real difference between the two clubs appears to be discipline. The Royals had accumulated 119 minutes of penalties in their eight games prior to Friday night’s contest, while the Jets had accumulated 218 in their first seven outings.
Friday night’s game added to that tally, including the five minutes Steve Nolte took for a face off glove dropper when the Jets were already down a man, down three goals and down to the final nine minutes of game play.
Head Coach Scott Rodda and his coaching staff contend the Jets are well capable of taking on any team in the league five-on-five, but with so much time in the sin bin this season the Jets have averaged a period-and-a-half of player shortages each game.
“That’s the big difference between our clubs right now – it’s the lack of discipline,” said Head Coach Scott Rodda, noting that once again Friday night the Jets took too many penalties. “The guys are going to get the lesson sooner or later.”
But the coach said he felt there was more to Friday night’s loss than just penalties.
“It was mostly defensive breakdowns,” he said. “We gave them better scoring chances. Same shots. We didn’t get to the net to give them traffic and cause the goalie any havoc, and they did that to us.”
Rodda said the Royals are a good skating club, one the Jets will have to work hard to beat in future outings. The coach said he felt the loss to the Royals really sent a message to the players.
“The guys are really disappointed, which is a good sign,” Rodda said. “The fact they’re more disappointed than me right now is a good sign.”
The Jets will get the chance to redeem themselves Sunday. The club takes on the 4-3-1 Strathcona Bruins at the Ray McDonald Sports Centre in Morinville. Game time is 2 p.m.