Hector Acevedo/Denver Cutthroats
After three straight losses, the Denver Cutthroats turned the tide with a big win at home over the Fort Worth Brahmas.
If tonight is any indication, a rivalry is brewing between the Cutthroats and Brahmas. This was a gritty, hard-hitting, chippy game that featured a lot of big hits, bad words, and behind the play nastiness. It made for a fun game, though, especially given the fact it wasn't at the expense of goals.
The Fish started things out in the first with a power play goal by newcomer Jean-Phillipp Chabot. The boys were on a four-on-three after Fort Worth's Brendan Hodge went off for interference, Denver's Brad Smyth was called for cross-checking, and Brahmas' Tomas Klempa got two for hooking. Assists on the goal went to Kyle Quincey and AJ Gale. Two minutes later, the Cutthroats struck again with the teams back to four-on-four. This time it was Markus Lauridsen gobbling up a rebound off a screaming slap shot by Quincey. Second assist, once again, went to Gale. The Fish weren't done yet, though, as Smyth took advantage of space created in the crease by Gale and Troy Schwab, giving the home team a 3-0 advantage going into the second.
Unfortunately, things went downhill fast for the Fish with a Fort Worth goal just 51 seconds into the period. Hodge sent the puck straight up the middle with a slap shot fed from Chad Woollard. Almost halfway through the period, Fort Worth tied it up with two goals 20 seconds apart. First, Phil Fox took a feed from Klempa and Ross Rouleau. Then Joe Tolles hit the twine with a one-timer through traffic.
It looked as if the game was going the way of Denver's last three contests at this point, letting a solid lead slip by once again. Head Coach Derek Armstrong understandably called a time out at this point, trying to get his team back on track.
We built ourselves a nice lead, and we kicked it right back to them," said Smyth. "It was a good time out. It was a useful time out. We had to straighten a few things out and right the ship because it's not easy getting a three goal lead. And it shoudln't be easy to give it away, either, so we just had to settle things down and get back to playing hockey."
And right the ship they did. Smyth tallied his second of the night with just over two minutes left in the second frame. Familiar faces assisted, giving Schwab and Gale two and four points on the night respectively.
Play in the third amped up in both speed and aggression. Bodies were thrown, words were exchanged, and guys were flying across the ice. Both teams were pushing play hard, but it was the Cutthroats who capitalized. Brett Lutes crashed the net and, with a flick of the wrist, gave the boys a two-goal lead with his first of the season. The Fish held on for the final 12 minutes, giving them their second win on the season, both coming at home.
The boys realize, though, that they can't let games get away from them like this. "We can't have a breakdown like we did in the second period," recent addition Gabe Gauthier admitted. "That's something we can't be doing in any game. We've got to learn how to play with the lead and play smarter hockey."
When asked what was different tonight, what got the win, Gale simply said, "We kept to our systems, and kept playing our game. If you go to the net enough times, you're eventually going to get a bounce that goes in."
The Cutthroats are back in action tonight at the Coliseum in the second game of a back-to-back against the Brahmas.
1. Brad Smyth (DEN)
2. Kyle Quincey (DEN)
3. A.J. Gale (DEN)
Post-Game Notes: J.P. Chabot scored his first goal of the season in his first game with Denver… Kyle Quincey had his second multi-point game of the season. He has picked up points in four of the five games this season… A.J. Gale had his third multi-point game of the year… Troy Schwab has had multi-point games in four of the five contests this season…