The Golden Eagles have never lost a league championship series, but if they want to keep that streak alive they'll have to turn things around quickly after Friday night's 8-1 drubbing at the hands of the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Last year, the Eagles lost their first two games in the championship series and came back to take the Turner Cup, but they haven't been beaten like Muskegon beat them Friday since Indianapolis got them 11-4 in a 1983 semifinal or 1975, when Dallas beat them 7-0.Muskegon is now up 2-0 in the best-of-seven Turner Cup finals.
After a two-goal first period, Muskegon scored six in the second; there was no scoring in the third as the Eagles made a comeback of sorts toward tonight's Game 3 in the Salt Palace.
"We fell apart," said Eagle Coach Paul Baxter about the second period, "but the sign of a good team is we came back and competed well in the third. Tonight will be different. I haven't lost my belief in our team."
He said he had no problems with the way the Eagles played in the first and the third periods.
In the second, "We made mental errors. I don't think it was lack of effort," Baxter said. "The puck bounced well for them, and they played very strongly."
To Eagle Paul Ranheim, "The second period was a complete misrepresentation of our team. It was like we were watching out there, but it wasn't us. It's hard to explain."
"We were definitely out of sync," added Eagle Jim Johannson.
"They'd see a small opening and make it a big opening. We couldn't stop the floodgates. It gets more frustrating every shift," Johannson said.
"We're confident heading back to Salt Lake," said Johannson. "It doesn't matter if you lose 2-1 or 8-1. We're experienced enough to realize that."
Muskegon Coach Blair MacDonald agreed, saying he was sure the Eagles would look at it like it was just like a 2-1 loss. "It's just a win," he said.
"We want to maintain what advantage we have," MacDonald said, "and keep pressure on them and see what happens."
For Baxter, "I'd just as soon it be that (score)." It may make the Salt Lakers wake up.
MacDonald also noticed the way things were bouncing. "I think the puck was bouncing like crazy, and we were going to the net. The puck was bouncing for us," MacDonald said. "We got momentum there and kept it rolling."
"The puck was jumping over your stick and onto theirs," said Ranheim.
Not long after Bryan Deasley scored following the opening faceoff :07 into the game, two seconds slower than the league record, Muskegon went into its feeding frenzy, getting a wraparound goal from Mark Recchi to start it off.
Muskegon hardly came up for air until it had an 8-1 lead with seven minutes left in the second period.
Perry Ganchar, the former Eagle, scored the first of his four points at 15:01 of the second period, wristing what appeared to be an easy shot off Steve Guenette's knee and into the net.
"That was a big goal for us," said MacDonald, noting the way the Lumberjacks had started out down 0-1. "We could have panicked, but we just stayed with it, and all of a sudden we had a lead. It lifted us quite a bit."
The Lumberjacks chased ex-teammate Guenette from the Eagle net :37 into the second period for a 23-second rest after a Kevin MacDonald goal from straight up the slot that glanced off an Eagle, and they evicted Guenette again with Dave McIlwain's goal at 7:01 of the second for a 5-1 lead. That followed a goal by Jock Callander at 6:33 - both goals coming during a 4-on-4 situation.
Callander swiped the puck away from defenseman Rick Lessard behind the net and wrapped it in.
Backup goalie Wayne Cowley injured a leg muscle doing the splits for a shot from the right circle, and he left the game with assistance under both arms at 15:40 of the second period, after only about 8 1/2 minutes of play, bringing Guenette back. Guenette allowed no further goals.
Brad Aitken and Scott Gruhl got power-play goals, followed by an even-strength score from Ganchar, all against Cowley.