3/2/2014 10:35:00 AM Allen 6, Sundogs 4 Despite 7 straight losses, Sundogs still in playoff hunt
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Prescott Valley Tribune
The Arizona Sundogs are mired in a long losing streak again. Only this time, it remains to be seen if it will cost them a postseason berth.
Whether the hometown Central Hockey League club can right the ship with 12 games left in the season and qualify for the playoffs is anyone's guess.
On Saturday at the Allen Event Center in Texas, the injury-riddled Sundogs lost their seventh straight game, including eight of their last nine, by falling to the Americans, 6-4.
Earlier this season, Arizona sustained losing skids of eight games (Oct. 21 through Nov. 9) and seven contests (Nov. 29-Dec. 13), but was able to claw out of them.
Eighth-place Arizona (24-24-6 overall record, 54 points) has yet to win halfway through its season-long nine-game road trip, going 0-2-3.
The bright side for the Sundogs is that they have four more meetings against the ninth-place Wichita Thunder (23-26-4, 50 points), which has struggled in recent days to gain ground on Arizona for the eighth and final playoff spot. Wichita lost to the league-leading Missouri Mavericks, 4-3, Saturday.
Arizona battles Wichita today at 4:05 p.m. in Kansas and will end the campaign with three straight against the Thunder at Tim's Toyota Center March 26, 28 and 29.
On Saturday, the Americans' Jonathan Lessard had two goals and an assist, while his teammate, Ben Power, also scored a pair of goals to pace the hosts.
Allen rolled to a 3-0 lead only 7 minutes and 38 seconds into the first period on goals from Lessard (assisted by Alex Lavoie and Tyler Ludwig), Power (Anthony Maiani), and Greger Hanson (Bruce Graham and Spencer Asuchak).
Garrett Clarke got Arizona on the board with 5:15 left in the first on a power-play goal via assists from Mark Isherwood and Kevin Baker.
But inside of 2 minutes remaining in the period, Power scored his second goal on helpers from Lavoie and Lessard to push Allen's advantage back up to three, 4-1.
It only got worse from there in the second period, as the Americans' defense shut out Arizona while receiving another goal from Lessard with 2:21 left in the frame.
Down by four, the Sundogs tried to claw back, cutting the Allen edge to 5-4 inside the final minute of the third period.
Recently signed veteran Shawn Limpright tallied short-handed on assists from Alex Tuckerman and Alex Velischek 6:02 into the third before Tuckerman lit the lamp on helpers from Johan Ryd and Riley Emmerson some five minutes later.
Limpright scored his second goal of the evening with 57 seconds left in regulation to make it 5-4, but Allen's Jamie Schaafsma ended the threat with an empty-net goal with 29 seconds to go to seal the deal for the hosts, 6-4.
Sundogs backup goalie Chris Rawlings took the loss on a rare night off for hard-working starter Andrew Engelage.
Allen net-minder Bryan Pitton, meanwhile, posted another win, notching 21 saves on 22 shots in 40 minutes between the pipes before giving way to backup Eric Levine in the third.