Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rio Grande Valley Falls to Evansville for the 2nd straight night

After nearly pulling off a SO Victory on Tuesday Night, the Killer Bees couldn't find a way to keep the Turner Conference Leaders from getting a series sweep as the Icemen continue to keep a slim lead over the Ft. Wayne Komets for the Conference Lead, while the Killer Bees, paired with the Brahmas victory over the Dayton Gems last night are now 4 points out of the Tulsa Oilers for the final playoff spot in the Berry Conference with 18 games left to play.

The bad news for the Killer Bees is that in addition to seeing their chances of catching up to Tulsa are beginning to diminish (Especially after a 9-6 loss on Sunday), they have also played the most games in the Conference shard with Texas as both teams are nearing the 50 game mark of the season.

Rio Grande Valley was able to keep it at a 1-0 game till just after the 3rd period where Sean O'Connor was able to score for the 2nd straight game against the Killer Bees to make it 2-0. Despite being down 2-0 & Thomas Klempa made it 2-1 with just over 5 minutes left in the 3rd period. He also came close on a couple of occasion's including missing an open net early in the 3rd period that could have tied the game at 1-1 and could have changed the outlook of the game.

The Killer Bees failed on an opportunity that they still could have been serious playoff contenders and not only make the playoffs. But look to show that they could play tough against anybody in the League as they were only able to get a point in the 2 games against Evansville. Lucky for them, Tulsa has been off since the 9-6 victory against the Killer Bees back on Sunday Afternoon; so the Oilers couldn't take advantage of the Killer Bees missed opportunities.

Next up for Rio Grande Valley is an important road trip to the Dallas Area for a weekend series against the Texas Brahmas as they look to close in on the 3rd Place Brahmas and once again close in on the playoff gap.

As for the Oilers who the Killer Bees are chasing is a game on Friday Night against the same Evansville Icemen finish off their 3 game Road Trip. This is the Oilers' only game of the weekend as they continue their 5 game home stand. So far, the Oilers are 2-1 on the home stand with a 4-1 loss against Evansville, as well as a 4-2 win over the Dayton Gems back on Tuesday Night.

From Hildago, Texas: Dan Gendur tried to take the blame for the Killer Bees' 3-1 loss Wednesday to the Evansville Icemen.

He pointed out a breakaway on which he was stopped by Evansville Goalie Bryan Gills and an open net he missed early in the 3rd period. But Gendur - who assisted on Thomas Klempa's 3rd period goal - wasn't nearly the problem for the Bees (20-22-7 47 PTS) during a loss that kept them four points behind Tulsa for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Berry Conference.

Instead, that would be the Bees' struggles on the special teams. Evansville first two goals came on its power play while the Turner Conference Leading IceMen (30-13-4, 64 PTS) stopped the Bees on their four chances with an advantage.

Those issues overshadowed an improved performance, albeit one not good enough for a win and two crucial points.

"I thought it was even game. I feel like I may have cost the team the game tonight," Gendur said. "Missed a wide open and missed a breakaway I probably should have scored on. I'll take a responsibility and I feel pretty bad considering it would have made it a 2-2 game and possibly could have gotten us a point."

Bees coach Terry Ruskowski didn't see it that way.

What he saw was a team that played a solid defensive game in front of goalie Wylie Rogers (26 Saves on 29 Shots), but one didn't do enough on special teams or get enough production from anybody besides the Gendur-Klempa-Brandon Campos line.

"It's just not all fitting together in one spot but I thought we played hard today," Ruskowski said. "I'd like to see us play more physical but we just don't have that physical team."

What the Bees also seem to be lacking is an ability to put everything together at the same time. On some nights they score plenty but break down defensively, like in Sunday's 9-6 loss at Tulsa. On Wednesday, they matched one of the league's best teams at even strength.

But the difference was special teams. Evansville's Malcom Gwilliam scored on the power play in the second after a failed clearance. Then with 8:16 left in the game Sean O'Connor got lost in the shuffle and beat Rogers from the goalie's right side after receiving a sharp diagonal pass from IceMen defensemen Steve Makway to double Evansville's lead.

Though Klempa's goal with 5:16 left in the game cut the deficit in half, Evansville held and clinched the win when former Bees center Brian Bicek hit an empty net with five seconds remaining.

"I thought it was a better performance (than Tuesday). We were moving the puck," Ruskowski. "They're a good hockey team. They move the puck very well. They play good position and when you make a mistake they make you pay for it."

The Bees learned that Wednesday.

Game Notes: Bicek's goal is his 30th of the season and makes him the first player in the league to reach that total.   Evansville played with 14 skaters.   The Bees play again on Friday & Saturday when they visit the Texas Brahmas. The Brahmas beat Dayton 2-0 on Wednesday to pull 9 points ahead of the Bees for third place in the Berry Conference.  The Bees are winless in their last four games.

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