Home ice hasn’t been an advantage.
The Hitmen dropped a 5-3 decision to the Saskatoon Blades Sunday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, to drop to 1-5-2 at home so far this season.
Despite tying the game at three in the final frame, the defensive struggles continued as Saskatoon capitalized with a man left open in the slot that wound up as the game winner.
“We didn’t sustain the push we had to start,” head coach Steve Hamilton said. “They built some momentum as the game went on and we didn’t match that.
“The guys work hard and we’re trying to convert consistency to our game and that has been our struggle so far. You see flashes of it but we need more. From our paint out, that needs to be our focus.”
Jake Kryski, Carson Focht and Zach Huber scored for the Hitmen, while Jack McNaughton ended with 36 saves.
For Saskatoon, Kirby Dach paced the offence with a pair of goals for a three-point night. Eric Florchuk, Josh Patterson and Kristian Royaks Marthinsen added single markers and Nolan Maier made 38 saves for the win.
The Hitmen were not able to take advantage of a Blades team on the tail end of playing four games in five nights, as they now drop to 1-2 in the season series.
“We were the fresh team coming in but we got out battled,” Kryski said. “It’s disappointing that we couldn’t go out and get it done.
“We are trying to be too flashy and make plays that aren’t there. We need to get back to how we play on the road to find success.”
Despite a back-and-forth affair for most of the game, things started to get away from them after the Blades broke the tie and things were made even more difficult with an unlucky call for high-sticking for four minutes with just five left to play.
“Unfortunate plays like that happen,” Hamilton said. “It seems to happen at times when we are trying to rally with five minutes left and that’s tough to gain traction while down a man for that long.
“End of the day we can’t continue to rely on these short spurts late in the game.”
An important weekend is fast approaching for the Hitmen, as they’ll play their second three-in-three weekend of the season with all three tilts up against Central Division opponents. Of the three games, two are against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“Every time you play teams in your division they are big games,” Focht said. “We need the points right now to move on up in the division.
“We have to be ready to play every night. We need to execute on the details that are hurting us right now.”