Unlucky Tornado still winless after home loss against Epinal
Tornado was trying to save its season Saturday night, hosting Epinal in front of the home crowd. The energy and the speed were back, luck was not!
With untimely penalties and unfortunate turnovers, Tornado allowed Epinal to take away an arguably undeserved win.
The first period saw new coach Joakim Eriksson's squad hit the ice with renewed energy and confidence and Tornado had quality chances right off the bat. The first line duo of Benny Welter and Georges Scheier put pressure on the Epinal netminder, but couldn't convert the first two chances. The second line of Robert Beran, Steven Minden and Thierry Magalhaes had the same spark early on, but missed the net on various occasions. Then the German referees decided to put Tornado into penalty trouble and from 6:02 on, five players made it to the box one after the other until finally Epinal clicked on the powerplay at 18:53 when Rapenne put the guests on the board while Yves Barthels was serving a highsticking penalty. Rapenne benefitted from a scramble in front of the net and put the loose puck behind Tornado goaltender Gilles Mangen.
Coach Eriksson told his team not to panick and to keep the good energy up. Tornado came flying out of the lockers and when Epinal's Maire sat for a highsticking call, Patrick Schon hit Michal Loksa's pass home for the 1-1 equalizer at 24:53. The home squad was finally in the game and on the scoreboard and started putting increased pressure on the Epinal defense and goaltender. Unfortunately, it could not capitalize on a 5-on-3 powerplay later on in the period. It got worse when the referee blew down play although the puck was loose and Loksa put it in the net, but the goal did not count. And to add insult to injury, Epinal scored on one of their rare chances when Paquie deflected a shot in front of netminder Mangen to put Epinal up 2-1 just at the end of the period at 39:13.
The pressure by Tornado increased in the third and the home team spent almost the entire period behind the Epinal blue line. Coach Eriksson rightfully played a short bench to force the equalizer and with high hopes of taking the lead, but a fantastic night for Epinal's netminder spoiled those plans. Tornado's bench shortly jumped up in joy when Patrick Schon hit the back of the net, but the referee cancelled the play because of a man in the crease infraction (arguable). Shortly thereafter, the bench was allowed to celebrate after all when Agi Ichinnorov converted Loksa's pass for the 2-2 tie at 53:28. It seemed like Tornado was going to be able to finally get a win in the so far disappointing 2009/2010 season. But Epinal's Zitouni buried those hopes at 57:40 with a breakaway goal when Tornado's defenseman Kai Linster got caught deep and his partner on the blue line missed the streaking Zitouni. The Epinal forward went fivehole to beat Mangen and send Tornado to its fifth straight loss. Captain Ronny Scheier had the chance to at least tie the game in the final minutes of the game when the referee called a penalty shot as Michal Loksa's was hooked on a breakaway attempt, but Ronny hit the goalie's catcher and the shot went wide. Eriksson pulled the netminder in the final two minutes, but Francois Schons' penalty at 58:49 made it a vain attempt and Tornado suffers a heartbreaking loss at home in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
It was a good and entertaining performance by the Tornado squad, but Epinal "stole" the win.