Without two of their best offensive players, the revamped Utah RollerBees came close to breaking their losing streak but finally fell for the fifth straight time, this one a 6-4 loss to first-place Vancouver in the Agrodome.
It was 5-4 with three minutes left, and RollerBee Trent Bakken hit a goalpost with a shot that came inches from tying the game, and the VooDoo scored in the last couple minutes.The Bees were without Brett Harkins, who had a prior commitment to a hockey camp, and brother Todd Harkins, suspended for Thursday's and next Friday's games in Vancouver because of the fight that occurred two weeks ago in Sandy between the two teams. Also suspended was Vancouver defenseman Sasha Lakovic.
"The guys are playing well," said coach Brent Meeke, "but we sure miss Todd and Brett on the offensive side."
Todd Harkins, who is eligible to play tonight's RollerBee game at Calgary in the Saddledome, watched Thursday's game and reported that the team is much improved with the recent addition of three players. "If we would have had this team at the beginning of the year, we would be where we want to be now," he said.
Vancouver is now 5-1 and leading the King Division of Roller Hockey International. Utah is 1-5-1.
Utah goalie Roger Rougelot "played a helluva game" said Meeke, but there was little offense. Three of the four Utah goals were scored by defensemen. Rich Chernomaz was the only Bee forward to score. New defenders Luke Smith (two goals) and Tim Hale had the other Utah scores.
Vancouver goals were by Todd Esselmont Joe Charbonneau, Shea Esselmont and Mike Kennedy.
The RollerBees arrived in Vancouver only about an hour before game time, slowed by a late flight in Los Angeles and then delayed at Canadian customs.