The Cape Cod Islanders pursuit of their first NA3EHL Easten Division title hit a snag yesterday when they dropped a tough 3-2 decision to the LA Fighting Spirit. The Islanders still control their own destiny sitting atop the division with 66 points and three games to play, but it certainly won't be easy, with two of their three remaining games against the New England Stars. The Stars currently sit in third place with with 58 points and six games left to play, the Spirit currently sit in second place with 59 points and five games left to play. The Islanders need to get four points in their last three games in order to secure first place and home ice advantage throughout the Eastern Division playoffs.
The Spirit have made a few line up adjustments and they showed they wouldn't go quielty yesterday as they established a physical presence from the drop of the puck. The first period was a scoreless affair with Cape Cod getting two glorious chances to score on a late power play. Aaron Deady rang a shot off the post and Mike Jessman was left with a wide open net off a nifty feed from Chuck Costello only to have Spirit goalie Claes Endre rob the Islanders leading scorer with a diving glove save.
The Spirit dominated the second period with their physical play and excellent system work hemming the home team in their own zone for minutes at time. Clay Janowiak and Dylan Vrees put LA up 2-0 heading into the break.
The third period was an up and down affair, Mike Jessman cut the Spirit lead in half as he one timed a feed from Costello. Colby Siering put the Spirit up 3-1 off a goal mouth scramble. Eric Szeker pulled the Isles within one with just 55 seconds left. The Islanders were unable to mount any offense from that point and the game ended 3-2 Sprirt.
"We didn't play well for forty minutes, but we were still within one shot at the end." coach Punsky said "Give them credit, they stuck to their systems and frustrated us, we weren't able to generate the offensive chances we usually do. We have to focus on us and control what we can control, that's our work ethic this week and preparing for the Stars."