Slow start costs Albert Lea

Published 8:57 am Monday, November 10, 2008

A slow start and untimely penalties hurt the Thunder Sunday night against Owatonna at the Four Seasons Centre.

The Express (8-7-1) jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and cruised to a 6-2 victory over Albert Lea.

The first period was too much for the Thunder to overcome. Albert Lea found the net in the second period when Jake Armijo slammed home a rebound off a shot from defenseman Jeff Slusser. Matt Sempeck added the second goal in the third period on a backhanded shot off a pass from Niko Kapetanovic.

Email newsletter signup

Owatonna scored a shorthanded goal at 3:05 in the first period when Dylan Porter skated in behind the Thunder defense. Stephen Carew made it 2-0 at 11:09 and Tony McDonald scored a short side goal to make it 3-0.

Albert Lea head coach Brad Zangs was not pleased with the result.

“All of these kids have to step up and look themselves in the mirror,” Zangs said. “I don’t think Owatonna is much better than us. I don’t think a lot of the teams in this league are that much better than us. We just have to sit down and get mentally strong.”

Albert Lea (1-14-1) had just five penalties in the game, it’s fewest on the season, but the last two proved costly. John Affolter was called for roughing in the third period and the Express converted on the power play to make the game 6-2. The penalty came 2:58 after Sempeck had made the game 5-2 with his goal.

Then at the 13:12 mark Steve Nykolajcuyk took a five minute fighting major and a two minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that forced the Thunder to play shorthanded for the final seven minutes.

“We’re right there and then it seems like they just pop ahead because we take selfish penalties,” said Albert Lea forward Chris Cass. “Everybody does it, I do it … the whole team does it. That’s one of those things you just have to grow up and realize that we have to stay out of the box if we want to win games. It just puts us down a little when we get penalties.”

Albert Lea had 15 shots in the game while the Express had 35 as the Thunder played without leading scorer Danny Wood. Wood dislocated his shoulder Saturday against Bismarck.

Starting goalie Mat Rabin was lifted for Tom Lescovich after the first period, but he didn’t have any luck stopping Owatonna.

Lescovich gave up three goals in two periods and made 21 saves on 24 shots.

It was the third game of the weekend for the Thunder. Albert Lea lost 5-2 to the Express Friday and 2-1 Saturday to Bismarck. While it was the first time since the beginning of the season the Thunder has played so many games in a short time span, the team didn’t feel as though that was a factor Sunday.

“Everybody felt pretty good going out there,” Kapetanovic said. “Three quick goals in the first period really puts you down, it’s tough to comeback from that.”

Zangs was less than pleased with the game Sunday and said the adjustment period is over for the team after its first 16 games.

“These kids can start calling themselves a veteran team,” Zangs said. “Enough is enough. We killed off a seven minute penalty. Don’t tell me these kids can’t play. That right there should tell you we can do the job.”

1st 2nd 3rd Total

Albert Lea – 0 1 1 2

Owatonna – 3 1 2 6


1st period: Owatonna – Dylan Porter (shorthanded) (unassisted) 3:05

Owatonna – Stephen Carew (Zach Vierling, Dmitry Lugin) 11:09

Owatonna – Tony McDonald (Chris Bournazos) 17:18

2nd period: Albert Lea – Jake Armijo (Jeff Slusser) 12:13

Owatonna – Cory Thorson (Tony McDonald, Chris Bournazos) 14:19

3rd period: Owatonna – Joe Beaudette (shorthanded) (unassisted) :46

Albert Lea – Matt Sempeck (Niko Kapetanovic, Jeff Lesmeister) (7:08)

Owatonna – Dmitry Lugin (power play) (Jacob Sloat, Stephen Carew) 11:21

POWER-PLAY CONVERSION: Albert Lea – 0 for 4, Owatonna – 1 for 4

SHOTS ON GOAL: 1st 2nd 3rd Total

Albert Lea 6 6 3 15 Owatonna 11 13 11 35