The Louisiana IceGators special teams unit had been playing superbly entering Friday night's game against the Pensacola Ice Flyers. They were the first in power-play percentage, penalty kill percentage, and penalty kill goals scored entering the evening.
The Ice Flyers, however, found vulnerabilities in Louisiana's special teams, scoring two power-play goals to beat the IceGators 3-2. Patrick Knowlton scored the go-ahead goal with 7:13 remaining in the game to give Pensacola their first and only lead of the night.
The IceGators' next game is Sunday in Biloxi against the Mississippi Surge. They return to the Frozen Swamp on Monday night for a New Year's Eve match against the Mississippi RiverKings at 7:05 p.m.
"Our penalty kill had been great up until tonight," IceGators Coach Kevin Kaminskisaid. "We gave up two big goals on power plays. I don't know if breakdowns got us, or if it was their execution. Their second goal was a turnover, and they beat us in a two-on-one. On that last goal, all we had to do was bat the puck out. We're proud of the effort. Both teams played well. It's just unfortunate we're on the losing end."
The IceGators recorded their first goal on their second shot. Kirk Byczynski scored on slap shot from the point 4 1/2 minutes into the contest after taking a pass from his brother, Clark.
Leo Thomas tied the game late in the second period off of a John Dunbar feed. The IceGators quickly regained the lead when Matt Robertson scored with 36 seconds left in the frame. The Ice Flyers dominated the third period. Thomas tied the score halfway through the frame off of assists from Dunbar and Ryan Salvis. Knowlton scored the game-winner on a powerplay off of assists from Jordan Chong and Ron Cramer.
Kaminski says his team had a golden opportunity to take control of the game after Josh Duplantis knocked out Brent Sands during a fight.
"Anytime you knock someone out, you can't let them take the momentum," he said. "That's exactly what happened. We have to keep the foot on the gas." Kaminski also said his team has to learn how to stay calm and take advantage of scoring chances.
"We have to stay composed when we have opportunities. We have to have the urgency to finish. We have to feel the pressure. They guys need to understand there are times where you can hesitate and pass, but sometimes you have to finish on your own."