The Newark Generals had appeared to survive the early onslaught.
They allowed just one goal in the first period Thursday to visiting Northeast and killed a 5-on-3 power play early in the second. A tone, however, had been set and the roof caved in during the final 20 minutes of the game in a 7-0 loss to the Storm in Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League play at the Lou and Gib Reese Ice Arena.
“We talk about we want to go out and set the pace in the first period and let them know that we are in charge of this game,” Newark coach Don Jennings said. “They did that to us. It was nice for these guys to see they intimidated us the way we intend to intimidate a team in our first shifts or in our first period.”
Northeast took a 2-0 lead with 4:49 left in the second. The Generals (10-7-3, 6-4-3) had a chance to answer late in the period, but Newark only had a couple of scoring opportunities on a power play. Once the Storm killed it, they countered and scored with 33 seconds left, putting the Generals in a deep 3-0 hole.
The floodgates opened during the third period. It turned into Newark’s worst home defeat in several years.
“I am not putting the blame on the young guys, but a lot of them were intimidated by the third period,” Jennings said. “Also, they start running a little bit scared. They don’t have enough experience to be able to realize or recognize the situation that they are in and to be able to get past it. … There is nothing you can do about that. (Assistant coach Kyle Thomas) and I called it a feeding frenzy.”
The Generals had three victories in three days a week ago, including an upset of first-place Westerville. Another victory in this game would have moved Newark into a second-place tie with Northeast.
Instead, Northeast leapfrogged Westerville. The Storm had multiple players return to the team after playing on the Junior Circuit in 2012-13, and they appear to be taking off after a first half of the season that included five league ties.
“Last weekend was just a classic,” Jennings said. “Everyone played their absolute hearts out. That is not to say we didn’t have many of our players doing the very best they can (in this game), but sometimes we reach a wall or a limitation. As a young team, we are building.”
The Generals had a chance to tie late in the first, but Sam Stewart’s shot from the right side was saved by Northeast goaltender Ryan Wickiser. Taylor Blome had a chance on the doorstep off a pass from the wing late in the second, but Wickiser was up to the task again.
Newark has a chance to rebound in a nonleague game Sunday against Dayton at the Ice Haus. By that time, Jennings hopes this game is long forgotten.
“We have explained to them that is getting out of their heads right away,” Jennings said. “There is nothing we can take away from that except that it is over and done with.”