LOWELL -- It was a great night to be named Shane Willis or Byron Ritchie, a horrible night to be wearing a Lowell Lock Monsters jersey.
Twenty-four hours earlier, the Lock Monsters began their American Hockey League existence in dream-like fashion. Last night's 6-1 loss to the Beast of New Haven before 2,149 fans at Tsongas Arena was more like a nightmare, however.
"I'm not going to lie. There's a lot of people who spent good money to see us play tonight. We stunk. That's the bottom line," said Lowell head coach Frank Anzalone.
Willis figured in all of New Haven's goals with a 2-goal, 4-assist effort while Ritchie, his teammate while the pair skated in the Western Hockey League, notched a hat trick and added 2 assists.
Lowell actually led 1-0 when Dmitri Nabokov scored a power-play goal 3:23 into the game. But it was all New Haven (1-1) from there. New Haven scored 3 power-play goals in the final 5:11 of the first period to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission, then extended its lead to 6-1 after two periods.
"We went out there with the intention of playing as well or even better than we did (Friday) night," said Lock Monsters forward Craig Charron. "We knew they had a strong power play, yet we went out and took penalty after penalty."
Lowell's penalty killing left a lot to be desired. New Haven scored on four of its first six power-play chances. Worse, it took the Beast less time to score those goals than it takes to pronounce the name of Lock Monsters defenseman Vladimir Chebaturkin (6 seconds, 22 seconds, 20 seconds and 13 seconds into the penalties).
"Everything they did worked and nothing we did could stop it," Anzalone said. "Then we lost our pizzazz, unfortunately. It's embarrassing. I'm not going to lie about it. When it became 3-1 the whole team was looking at each other. We've got to be a team that trusts each other."
New Haven opened with a 6-3 loss to Hartford, but all three of its goals came via the power play. Anzalone knew that stat. He told his players that stat. But still the Lock Monsters, after grabbing the 1-0 lead, took three straight penalties to close the first period.
All three were costly.
On New Haven's first power play chance, the Beast won the faceoff, Ashlin Halfnight passed over to Willis and Willis whistled a slap shot through a screen and past McArthur at 14:49, six seconds after Mark Lawrence was called for hooking.
Ritchie then tallied twice, 22 seconds after a Vladimir Chebaturkin high sticking penalty, and 20 seconds after Ray Giroux was sent to the sin bin for hooking.
A 1-0 lead had become a 3-1 deficit.
It was becoming obvious that the opening night heroics in a 5-4 victory over the Portland Pirates before a sellout crowd of 6,496 would not be repeated.
"If 20 guys aren't ready to play there's something wrong. Obviously (Friday) night we were very emotional. But I don't think that we lost tonight because there weren't 6,000 fans," Lowell defenseman Dean Malkoc said.
Highlights? Steve Webb continued to be a Lowell fan-favorite by skating like a man possessed and Jason Stewart hammered New Haven's Kevin McDonald during a brief fight with 1:57 to play.
Other than that, Lock Monster fans will have to wait until next Friday when the team plays at Portland for reason to smile again.
Malkoc, bloodied during a third-period fight with Portland's Mark Major, was back in the lineup last night after receiving eight stitches to close a cut to his forehead.
The answer was ... well, not a whole heck of a lot.
The Beast of New Haven buried the Lock Monsters, 6-1, before 2,149 fans in an American Hockey League game Saturday night at Paul E. Tsongas Arena. New Havens Shane Willis notched two goals and four assists and teammate Byron Ritchie added a hat trick and two assists to lead the Beast.
The visitors dominated in every aspect of the game as their 29-17 shots-on-goal advantage illustrates.
It was a surprisingly flat and certainly disappointing encore for the team and its fans.
"We lost too many key draws, we should have been better," Lowell head coach Frank Anzalone explained. "It looked like we had gotten ourselves back together (after falling behind, 3-1) but then we give them another one and its 4-1. Then before you know it, its 5- then 6-1. Im embarrassed. Ive got no excuses."
The night began on a positive note as the Lock Monsters jumped out in front in the games opening minutes on a power play goal by Dimitri Nabokov at 3:23, his first of the season. Nabakov, a former first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, beat Beast goaltender Todd MacDonald with a wrist shot from a difficult angle, just to the left of the net. Mark Lawrence and Warren Luhning assisted on the play.
New Haven took a couple of ill-advised penalties midway through the first period to give Lowell a two-man advantage. The Lock Monsters, though, were unable to convert on the opportunity, due in large part to Mac Donald, who stoned Nabokov from in close on his bid for a second power play goal.
It didnt seem significant at the time, however, the Beasts ability to prevent the Lowell power play from doing any further damaged at that time changed the momentum of the game around, as it turned out, for good.
"The same thing happened to us in the pre season," Anzalone recalled. "In those cases we escaped but tonight New Haven didnt let us off the hook."
While the Lowell power play was effective in generating scoring chances, their counterparts on the penalty-killing unit proved unable to defend them at the other end of the ice. That point was driven home dramatically by the Beast when they knocked home three power play goals within a five minute span late in the period.
What was even more remarkable than the Beasts 3-for-3 power play efficiency was the swiftness with which they accomplished the task. Shane Willis started the onslaught by slapping a shot past Lowell goalie Mark McArthur at 14:49, just six seconds after a hooking penalty on Lowells Mark Lawrence.
At 18:09, Byron Ritchie put New Haven in front with a seemingly harmless shot from the point that eluded McArthur through a mass of bodies parked just outside his crease. Ritchies goal came 22 seconds after Vladimir Chebaturkin was whistled off the ice for high sticking.
Finally, Ritchie added his second power play goal on a slap shot from the left face off circle at 19:03, a mere 20 seconds after a Ray Giroux hooking penalty.
"We lost faceoffs right off the top and then they put it into the net," defenseman Dean Malkoc said. "We win a couple of those and chip the puck out of the zone, its a whole new ball game. We just didnt do it."
Anzalone was not happy with his team response to adversity.
"This has to become a team that trusts its coaches and captains," he said. "We have to learn that 3-1 may be depressing but with 40 minutes left, the game is not over."
The Lock Monsters seemed to have stemmed the tide through the first half of the second period, even managing to kill off two penalties in the process. The beleaguered McArthur made a nifty pad save to rob Tommy Westlund of a power play goal at the 7:48 mark.
Shorty thereafter, thanks to the duo of Willis and Ritchie, the proverbial roof caved in.
Willis took a pass from Ritchie and backhanded the puck under a sliding McArthur at 13:37 to put the visitors firmly in command at 4-1. New Haven defenseman Chris Allen beat McArthur on an unobstructed slap shot for yet another power play goal at 14:13 and Ritchie wristed a floater past McArthur for a hat trick at 16:35.
The Lock Monsters were held at bay in the third period by MacDonald, who foiled a breakaway attempt by Vladimir Orszagh early in the opening minutes. The period was spiced by a two spirited fights including a knockdown by Lowells Jason Stewart of Kevin McDonald at the 18:07 mark.
At least then Lock Monster fans had something to cheer about.
Beast 6, Lock Monsters 1
LOWELL, Mass. - The Beast of New Haven's forward line of Byron Ritchie, Shane Willis and Craig MacDonald did not have a good opening game against Hartford Friday night.
They certainly made up for it in grand style Saturday night against the Lowell Lock Monsters at Tsongas Arena. Willis had two goals and four assists, which set a club record for points in a game (six). Ritchie had three goals and two assists while MacDonald had an assist as the Beast defeated the Lock Monsters 6-1 for their first win of the season.
The Beast continued its early-season power-play prowess. New Haven was 4- for-8 with the man advantage and scored three power-play goals in the first period. After two games New Haven is 7-for-18 on the power play.
Ritchie, Willis and MacDonald's line combined for all three first-period goals in the final 5 minutes, 11 seconds of the period as New Haven took a 3-1 lead.
Willis, a 50-goal scorer in major junior hockey, scored his first professional goal at 14:49 of the opening period. He had what seemed like an eternity to get the pass from defenseman Ashlin Halfnight, skating the left faceoff cricle and blasting a shot past Lowell goaltender Mark McArthur.
Willis and Ritchie combined on a second power-play goal, with a little help from red hot rookie defenseman Chris Allen. This time Ritchie got the puck in the left faceoff circle and ripped a slapper through traffic at 18:09 to make it 2-1.
About a minute later, Ritchie scored his second of the night from the same spot to make it 3-1.
The line continued its show in the middle period, combining for two even strength goals and one power-play tally which padded the lead to 6-1. Willis scored his second goal at 13:37.
Ritchie drew the defense to him as he skated toward the slot. That left Willis alone to take the soft pass and deke McArthur to the ice for a 4-1 lead.
Allen, who scored 38 goals last year in the Ontario Hockey League, scored his first professional goal less than a minute later. He displayed the booming slap shot that has the Florida Panthers' brass drooling as McArthur never had a chance on Allen's 20-foot power-play shot.
Ritchie completed his first pro hat trick at 16:25. It was the completion of a picture-perfect three-way combination of Willis, MacDonald and Ritchie. Ritchie actually misfired on his shot but the puck still got past McArthur.
Ritchie became the third person to record a hat trick this season. Jason Podollan of St. John's and former New Haven Nighthawk Shawn McCosh of Philadelphia also recorded three-goal games.
New Haven goaltender Todd MacDonald was busy early in the first period. Lowell actually scored the first goal of the game as Dmitri Nabokov banked in a shot off a New Haven player at the side of the net just 3:23 into the game.
Todd MacDonald faced only 17 shots as New Haven's best defense was its offense. Lowell had seven shots on goal in the first perod but had only 10 in the final 40 minutes.
New Haven put 29 shots on a beleaguered McArthur.
Lock Monsters fall flat in big setback to Beast
LOWELL -- The Lowell Lock Monsters did not fare as well as in the opener last night in front of a dwindled crowd of 2,149.
Lowell's Dmitri Nabokov opened the scoring early at 3:23 of the first period, but it was all the Beast of New Haven after that. The duel affiliate of the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes struck for three power play goals in the final five minutes of the first period.
The Beast tacked on three more goals in the second period to put the game out of reach. New Haven scored on four of its first six power plays.
Shane Willis had two goals and four assists for the Beast, while teammate Byron Ritchie recorded the hat trick and a pair of assists.
Lowell has nearly a week off before returning to action next Friday, when the Lock Monsters travel to Portland.
New Haven 3 3 0--6
Lowell 1 0 0--1
FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Lowell, Nabakov 1 (power play) (Lawrence,Luhning), 3:23. 2, New Haven, Willis 1 (power play) (Halfnight,
Ritchie),14:49. 3, New Haven, Ritchie 1 (power play) (Allen, Willis), 18:09. 4, New Haven, Ritchie 2 (power play) (Willis), 19:08. Penalties: Buckley, Nhv (roughing), 2:17; Willis, Nhv (roughing), 8:32; C Macdonald, Nhv(interference), 10:11; Lawrence, Low (hooking), 14:43; Chebaturkin, Low (high sticking), 17:47; Giroux, Low (hooking), 18:43.
SECOND PERIOD -- Scoring: 5, New Haven, Willis 2 (Ritchie), 13:30. 6, New Haven, Allen 1 (power play) (Willis), 14:13. 7, New Haven, Ritchie 3
(C Macdonald, Willis), 16:35. Penalties: Ritchie, Nhv (hooking), 3:33; Orszagh, Low (holding), 7:02; Webb, Low (roughing), 7:02; Cabana, Nhv
(roughing), 7:02; Webb, Low (hooking), 10:41; Webb, Low (fighting major), 14:00; Chebaturkin, Low (high sticking), 14:00; Cabana, Nhv (fighting major), 14:00; Ferguson, Nhv (Obstr holding), 18:47.
THIRD PERIOD -- Scoring: None. Penalties: Webb, Low (fighting major), 4:54; Cabana, Nhv (fighting major), 4:54; Korolev, Low (interference),
6:31; Allen, Nhv (holding stick), 10:38; Gaul, Low (hooking), 11:04; K Mcdonald, Nhv (slashing), 13:36; Stewart, Low (fighting major), 18:07; K
Mcdonald, Nhv (fighting major), 18:07.
Shots on goal:
New Haven 6 12 11--29
Lowell 7 5 5--17
Power-play Conversions: Nhv - 4 of 8, Low - 1 of 7. Goalies: New Haven, T Macdonald (17 shots, 16 saves; record: 1-0-0). Lowell, Mcarthur (29,
23; record: 0-1-0). A: , 0. Referee: Meier. Linesmen: Butova, Morissey.