You know that things aren’t going well for the Owen Sound Attack when the best thing you can say about their latest game is that backup goalie Brandon Hope had a four-save shutout.
To say that the Ontario Hockey League squad had a complete meltdown in a 5-0 loss to visiting Guelph is being kind.
This was the kind of lopsided embarrassment that only comes along so often. Thankfully.
And Attack coach Greg Ireland wasn’t in the mood to wax philosophical about it.
“We’ve been playing pretty darn good but the last two nights we got into a slug-it-out battle,” Ireland said on Saturday.
“We pushed, they pushed back and we didn’t push back enough. We need to learn playoff type games and that’s down in the trenches.”
And learning to win those games includes a couple of things, Ireland said.
“Their team is committed to hit and ours wasn’t,” he said.
“Their team is committed to taking a hit and ours didn’t give too many so they didn’t have to. There was a lot of hacking and whacking and we need to learn to be a little smarter and pick our moments a little better.”
All is not lost according to Ireland.
“We have a long way to grow as a hockey club in the last 20 games,” Ireland said.
“And we have it in us. We’ve seen it for a good portion of the year so there’s no need to go over the deep end here. We’re going to push a little bit here and have higher demands on our team because I think there’s a little bit of a comfort zone and we need to alleviate that.”
This game didn’t start like it was going to be a 5-0 shellacking.
Owen Sound looked good early and when Guelph’s Andrey Pedan took a five-minute major for slew footing midway through the first, the Attack seemed to have an opportunity to take control of the game.
“We were outplaying them and out-chancing them and then we didn’t score on the five-minute power play,” Ireland said. “They got one and our game seemed to fall apart.”
Guelph scored on a power play of its own just 33 seconds into the second period and that was the first step on the slippery slope.
“It’s embarrassing,” said defenceman Nathan Chiarlitti.
“Any time you don’t take advantage of a five-minute power play, it can turn against you. It was a full-team effort. It’s embarrassing on home ice. We have to get back to the drawing board and keep working hard and it will turn.”
Scott Kosmachuk scored twice while Zac Leslie, Brock McGinn and Zach Mitchell added singles for the Storm (28-14-1-4, fourth in the Midwest Division going into a game Sunday night).
“We got some momentum off of the five-minute kill,” said Storm coach Scott Walker.
“We’re still behind and when you’re fighting from behind, you can’t be satisfied with winning. You’ve put yourself in a position where we have no margin of error. It’s not easy to win (5-0 on a Saturday night) anywhere in this league, especially here. (Guelph goalie) Garret Sparks did a heck of a job again.”
Jordan Binnington stopped 25 of 30 shots for the Attack (30-14-1-3, third in the Midwest) before being given the mercy hook late in the third period. Sparks stopped all 27 shots he faced.
The Attack hosts the Barrie Colts on Wednesday.
Game time at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre is 7 p.m.
SLAPSHOTS: W Daniel Milne suffered a broken nose in Friday’s game and is now wearing a full face shield ... W Steven Janes did not dress on Saturday after suffering an upper-body injury in Guelph on Friday. He’s listed as day-to-day.
Follow Bill Walker on Twitter at twitter.com/OwenSoundST