Still Learning To Get Better, Rebels Fall Again
For the first few weeks of the season, Joe Coombs was OK blaming his team’s struggles on their inexperience.
Now 23 games into the North American Hockey League season, the Jamestown Rebels head coach isn’t buying it.
The last-place Rebels took another step in the wrong direction Saturday night with a 4-2 loss to the Northeast Generals in East Division action at Northwest Arena.
“We’ve had a lot of success as a staff and as an organization for a long time. This is new territory for us. … We have a lot of new faces, but we are 23 games into this. Enough is enough,” Coombs said postgame. “Guys have to start picking this stuff up and realizing that this is a really good league. You have to compete every single shift and that’s not happening.”
Tied 2-2 late in the third period, Northeast’s Joseph Mancuso picked up the puck along the half-wall and skated unimpeded to the center of the ice before beating Jamestown goaltender Noah West with a changeup along the ice for his ninth goal of the season to give the Generals a 3-2 lead.
“You have a young kid getting beat out of the corner. I don’t know how he’s going to learn, but he’s got to learn,” Coombs said. “It just keeps happening and happening.”
With 1:02 remaining, Northeast (10-12-1-1) captain Joe Nagle flipped a puck out of the defensive end that flew through the neutral zone before sliding into an empty Rebels net to cement away the Generals’ victory.
It was a game that Coombs felt Jamestown (7-14-0-2) didn’t deserve to win anyways.
The Rebels skated through an uninspired opening two periods, falling behind 2-0 after a goal in each frame.
Mancuso opened the scoring at 10:10 of the first period when he skated relatively unharmed in front of the Jamestown net and banged home a loose puck for his eighth goal of the season off assist from Michael Heneghan and Joseph LaRossa.
At the 15:12 mark of the second period, Northeast’s Jack Ring skated down the wing to West’s left and lost control of the puck. Teammate Clark Kerner was there to take possession and quickly beat West with a wrist shot for his third goal of the season.
“That’s the simplest thing in the world to do is to get out of bed in the morning and say ‘I’m going to work really hard today.’ That seems to be a chore,” Coombs said. “I don’t understand. The same thing just keeps happening. They don’t want to do it our way.”
Jamestown finally got on the board in the third period when a pair of its veterans stepped up.
First, captain Eric Olson gained control of the puck behind the Generals net, skated to the front and powered a puck home along the ice past Northeast goaltender Joey Stanizzi for his sixth goal of the season to give the Rebels life at the 4:26 mark.
Just over six minutes later, Noah Finstrom tallied his sixth goal of the season when he took matters into his own hands after a pass from Liam Hansson along the far boards, dragged the puck through the Generals defense from his forehand to his backhand and then beat Stanizzi going against the grain to tie the game at 2.
“They are expected to lead, that’s their job,” Coombs said. “For two periods, there wasn’t anybody that was.”
Jamestown controlled a large portion of the play from there until Northeast put together its game-winning shift in the Rebels’ end with less than two minutes remaining.
“Should the shot have been stopped? All day long. But it’s not about the shot. It’s about the play coming out of the corner. It should never have happened. But are you going to sum up our game in one play? It’s not anybody’s fault,” Coombs said. ” … You are successful as a group and you are unsuccessful as a group. It’s not pointing the finger. We’ve got to learn to get better and we’re not. It’s disappointing and it’s frustrating.”
Next weekend, Jamestown travels to the Revolution Ice Centre to take on the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Knights on Friday and Saturday before returning home for a two-game series Nov. 29-30 against the Johnstown Tomahawks.
“That’s a hockey team that is probably not a whole lot different than us and we don’t see them again the rest of the way,” Coombs said of Northeast. “Guess what? Our season gets a whole lot harder against better teams the rest of the year.”
NOTES: Tyler Cooper, Cam Gaudette, Ethan Destefani, Matt Smoliga and Dylan Schuett chipped in assists for Northeast, which received 28 saves in net from Stanizzi. … Joe Teasdale, Jordan Cormier and Ian Carpenter had assists for Jamestown, which received 29 saves from West. … Both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play.