The Alpena Street Cats broke a lengthy streak away from home on Friday, but fell 7-5 to the Soo Firehawks in a tight game that saw the Street Cats (21-15) struggle on the power play.
"We didn't capitalize when we had the chances on the power play. We had plenty of chances, but we didn't capitalize and score. We need to get more guys going to the net and anticipate a little more," Street Cats assistant coach Steve Bailey said.
This problem was especially noticeable in the third period, when the Street Cats were down 6-4.
The Firehawks (26-10) picked up 44 penalty minutes compared to the Street Cats' six in the third period. Three of the these penalties were 10 minute misconducts.
As a result, the Street Cats outnumbered the Firehawks on the ice for nearly the entire period.
Alpena was able to pick up a goal with 7:09 left in the period. Andrei Yanovich picked up a pass from Anton Shtykov and slipped it past Anthony Benvenuti to narrow the Soo's lead to 6-5.
Benevuti and Brandon Hansen combined for 29 saves. Alpena's Keegan McGraw had 21 saves.
The Firehawks answered back with a power play goal 30 seconds later when Trevor McRorie picked up a Tyler Jones pass close to the net. He slapped it past McGraw to give Soo a two-goal lead.
The Firehawks' penalty problems kept it short on player for the last 2:35 of the game, but their penalty kill was perfect against aggressive Alpena shots.
The first two periods saw the brunt of the scoring from both teams. Alpena scored first with a Konstantin Khramov goal with assists from Vladislav Khasanov and Vladimir Mokrousov at 4:03 in the first period.
Soo tied it up 1-1 a minute and a half later when Nicholas Murphy scored a goal with assists to Steven Smoltz and Matthew Majic. Soo scored a second goal eight minutes later to go up 2-1.
The Street Cats scored its first power-play goal with 10 seconds left in the period. Georgy Aksenov picked up a pass from Khasanov and proceeded to slip it past Hansen.
The Street Cats seemed prime for a win when Khasanov scored his second goal of the night at 2:36 in the period to go up 3-2. Hard play from both teams earned both six minutes of penalty time in the second.
Ryan Marshall scored a goal at 8:40 in the third period to tie it up 3-3. This initiated a three-goal stretch over the next five minutes with Jones scoring his second goal of the night and Steve Smoltz scoring his only goal at 13:15 in the second to give Soo a 5-3 lead.
The Street Cats never regained the lead. They came close in the second when Georgy Aksenov scored Alpena's fourth of the night at 14:43 to narrow the Soo's lead to 5-4. However, Murphy scored with 30 seconds left in the second to take the Firehawks to a 6-4 lead.
In spite of the loss, assistant coach Bailey feels confident about the Street Cats upcoming playoff run.
"The Soo has more bodies and bigger bodies. I think in the playoffs, when we really come to play, it'll be a good game. I think we'll be able to take them in the playoffs," Bailey said.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.