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The St. Thomas Tommies lost 3-2 in a heartbreaker against the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus Friday night at the Lady Beaverbrook Arena.
Moncton sniper Marc-Andre Cote stripped the puck from Tommies forward Steve Sanza and beat goaltender Charles Lavigne’s short side to take the lead with 1:23 left in the third period to give U de M the win.
“I picked it up going out of our zone,” said Sanza, “and I thought I had a little more time than I actually did and the guy stripped me. I couldn’t get back in time and it was a big error. We can’t have those.”
The Tommies still had a chance to tie it up late when Moncton’s Samuel Groulx took a slashing penalty with 47.9 seconds left, giving the Tommies a six-on-four advantage. They couldn’t beat Moncton goaltender Andre-Michel Guay, who made four of his 30 saves in the last minute.
“A month ago in that situation we would have been in panic mode,” said St. Thomas coach Troy Ryan, “but we actually looked like we were composed and prepared to tie it up.”
The Tommies got off to a quick start, when Randy Cameron scored on a five-on-three power play four minutes into the game. The power play continued to click when Andrew Andricopolous’s point shot took a fortunate bounce right onto Alex Labonte’s stick and he buried it to put the Tommies up 2-0 halfway through the first.
The lead didn’t last long though.
Moncton’s Remi Blanchard took advantage of a Brad Gallant penalty and added a power play goal of his own just 30 seconds later, cutting the Tommies lead to 2-1. Guillaume Parenteau picked up a rebound and went upstairs on Charles Lavigne, scoring another power play goal to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the first intermission. There were nine penalties called in the first period alone.
The second period belonged to the Aigles Bleu, who outshot the Tommies 12-5 in the frame.
“It was like men against boys,” said Ryan, “they just dominated us for 20 minutes.”
The Tommies were on their heels in the second period playing like a team scared to make a mistake.
“We had a conversation with them [after the second period] and we said if we’re going to lose lets lose trying to win instead of sitting back,” Ryan said.
That’s exactly what the Tommies did. They came flying out of the gate in the third period, outshooting Moncton 15-9 in the frame, but they couldn’t solve Guay, and Cote took over from there, ending all hopes of a Tommies win.
“I think in a short period of time we’ve changed the perception of the team, hopefully in the community and league wide,” says Ryan.