The Seals won a few skirmishes in San Diego Friday night but ultimately lost the battle to the defending champions from Calgary.
The 16-11 loss means they drop to a daunting 0-3 on the season and continue to round out the bottom of a highly competitive West Division. Their rival Roughnecks, on the other hand, climb to first place at 2-1 in the five team West.
Tough as the loss is for San Diego, there were some signs of progress in the young team’s performance. For one, they found offensive production from varied sources this week, to include a massive 7 point performance from forward Zack Greer who notched 4 goals with 3 assists on the night and a 4 point contribution from forward Wesley Berg. Forward Johnny Pearson made a splash with two goals in his return from a torn ACL which he sustained last season. The Seals even saw rookie Mikie Schlosser score his first NLL goal after being called up to the active roster earlier in the week. He was also a catalyst in an improved transition offense.
On the other side, Calgary’s effort was highlighted by absolutely monster games from forwards Jesse King, who put up 9 points on 5 goals with 4 assists, and Haiden Dickinson, who exploded for 4 goals in his NLL debut.
One of the skirmishes the Seals won came on their power play, converting 5-8 of their opportunities and holding Calgary to just 2-7.
“I think that’s a positive for sure [the power play], but we got to be better on the 5 on 5 game,” said forward Zack Greer.
They also saw some promising ball movement between the forwards and solid transition runs – facets Coach Merrill wanted to improve upon going into the game.
The game itself began much differently than last week, with the Seals playing some strong defense through the majority of the first half and successfully killing the first two power play opportunities given to Calgary.
“I thought we had a good start. We came out and when we got up 5-3, I thought we were rolling and I thought we were going to be able to extend a run and carry some momentum into the second half, but then giving up three goals with under two minutes left in the first half kind of affected that momentum,” said general manager and head coach Patrick Merrill.
The 3 goal Roughneck run was a devastating momentum swing, capped by a lead change with just 5 seconds left in the half. It would signal what was yet to come in the second.
“Then we had a very poor third quarter. We just couldn’t string along enough offense, and when we did, then we would give up an easy goal right away,” continued Merrill.
The Roughnecks were shot out of a cannon in the third, adding another three goals in a five minute span to make it a 9-5 lead on six unanswered goals halfway through the quarter.
After much needed goals from Zack Greer and Wes Berg that cut the score to 9-7, Calgary finished the quarter with counter strikes from Jesse King and Shane Simpson who scored 15 seconds apart to kill any resurgence the Seals may have been building.
“We tried to make it a game there. We worked hard to get it back to 9-7, but then again we gave up an easy one off the faceoff and things like that we can’t give up, they’re a good team and they made us pay for it,” added Merrill.
Face-offs were an issue all night as the Seals only went 11 for 30 after running a 65% success rate through the first two games. Jeremy Noble, a stud to this point, just couldn’t get the job done against the physical Roughnecks faceoff man, Tyler Burton.
The fourth quarter began at 11-7 Calgary, with the defending champs drawing first blood at the 11 minute mark, extending the lead to five and taking the air out of the Seal’s sails.
A two goal San Diego surge, however, facilitated by a pretty crease finish from Connor Fields on the power play and an outside lefty ripper from Zack Greer, gave the Seals a little bit of life with just four minutes to play and a three goal deficit at a score of 12-9.
Seconds after the Greer goal, Calgary would answer with one of their own in transition. This one would be challenged by Coach Merrill, but after a long review the score was not overturned and that just about sealed up the game for the Roughnecks, who would go on to put three more in the cage with San Diego in desperation mode.
The final score of the game was 16-11.
Zack Greer, the Seals high scorer on the night, summed it up like this, “Not good enough. At all ends. We got glimpses of it… positives… a lot of things we got to clean up and figure out. We know we like our guys. We like our group. The belief is there and the doubt is not creeping in. We got to be better. We got a chance in two days to turn it around.”
San Diego has a quick turnover, as they head to Vancouver this weekend for a 1:00 PST December 29 contest with the Warriors.