Prince Albert Icehawks backstop Cole Dinney stones Saskatoon Royals forward Ashton Donnelly in PJHL action on Monday at the Kinsmen Arena. The Icehawks suffered their first loss of 2014 on Monday, falling to the Royals 8-2 as their record dropped to 9-15-2 in their struggle to emerge from the PJHL North Division basement. Herald photo by Andrew Schopp
The Prince Albert Icehawks took a step backwards from clawing back into playoff contention, falling 8-2 to the Saskatoon Royals on Monday at the Kinsmen Arena.
Back from a two-week Christmas break, the Icehawks surrendered three goals in the first and second periods as their record fell to 9-15-2 in their struggle to emerge from the Prairie Junior Hockey League North Division basement.
Reflecting back on a hot 5-1-1 December, Icehawks coach Kim Dryka said the long Christmas break may have thrown the team's momentum off course.
"We had a great December and the break came at the wrong time but we still got 14 games to go and we'll regroup," Dryka said.
Icehawks leading scorer Brett Boyer and forward Lyndon Arcand continued to carry the load offensively, each netting a goal while Royals forward Tyler Hahn tallied a goal and three assists.
Monday's game was strikingly similar to the Icehawks last meeting with the Royals on Nov. 19, a 10-1 thrashing at the hands of the league-leaders who sit atop the North Division standings with a record of 23-6-0, riding an eight-game winning streak.
"We're facing a top end team coming off the Christmas break and obviously we had some turkey legs for the first two periods," Dryka said of facing an elite team after sitting dormant for two weeks. "The third period was better so we got to take some momentum from that and carry it into Fridays game."
The Icehawks now trail the Saskatoon Westleys by two points in the standings as they struggle to stay in the playoff hunt. Should the Icehawks get to the playoffs, the Royals are a very likely opponent and Dryka acknowledges some adjustments are to be made if they are to have any hope of getting past them.
"It almost looks like you beat yourself up before you play them and when we played them here the first time we should have beat them," Dryka said of the Icehawks 8-5 loss to the Royals on Nov. 13 at the Kinsmen Arena. "We can play with the best teams, we've beat teams that have beat the Royals, we just have to stay focused and treat them as any other game and any other team and go at them hard."
Icehawks backstop Cole Dinney was given the yank after the Icehawks allowed a fifth goal in the second period, replaced by backstop Aidon Patrick while the Icehawks were a scoreless 0-for-3 on the power play.
On the other end of the ice, Royals goalie Jay Hudon stopped 29 of 31 shots, improving his record to an impressive 14-5-0.
The Icehawks will have three days off to regroup as they prepare to take on the Tri Town Thunder on Friday at the Kinsmen Arena.