Well, the Cougars played an exciting game against the Ajax Attack last night only to lose their tenth in a row. It may sound strange but the toughest thing about this losing streak has been the absence of blowouts. When a team gets absolutely obliterated it stings but not as much as a string of close games that were just out of reach.
The Cougars have been competitive in almost every single game this year but they continue to lose close games or watch leads slip away in the third period. Excluding an 8 - 3 thrashing courtesy of the Lindsay Muskies, the Cougars' margin of defeat has been 1.7 goals over their losing streak. Essentially, the difference has been a good bounce here and a timely save there but the Cougars have received neither. Additionally, they have outshot their opponents by an average of almost 7 shots per game. If this team had found just a little bit of puck luck they might be on a winning streak rather than a losing streak but the Hockey Gods can be a fickle bunch.
Back to the subject of last night's game, I can say without hesitation that it was one of the most wild affairs of the season. The teams were tied 1-1 at the end of the first, 4-4 at the end of the second, and again at 6-6 with under three minutes to play in the third. The Cougars' line of Diminie, Place and Thompson with Herrington and Morris on the back end potted back to back goals to knot it up late but a fantastic wrister from Jonny Simone went in off the crossbar to put the Attack up 7-6 with just under two minutes to play.
The game saw its fair share of rough stuff too with a total of 48 minutes in penalties being handed out along with three ejections; two for Ajax and one for Cobourg. Add on a final score of 8-6 with an empty net goal to get one crowd of exhausted fans and one extremely busy scorekeeper.
The question now is how to end this painful slide and it's up to the coaching staff to find an answer. Brandon Couto has been banged up but should return soon, giving the cats a fourth legitimate scoring threat in addition to the prolific line of Place, Diminie and Thompson who have put up a total of 20 points and 8 goals in the past 5 games. Something I'd like to see is a line of Couto, Thompson and Place followed by Diminie, McMahon and Murray or Belmonte to provide a second line with scoring punch and some defensive acumen.
The season is still young and there is plenty of time to make up ground. Thanks to their great start the Cougars are still only 4 points out of the middle of the pack in the East division. If their goaltending can come up with some timely saves and the goalscorers keep doing what they're doing there is good reason to expect that this team can and will climb its way back up the standings.
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