LAFAYETTE — At the last home game for the Louisiana IceGators this month, the number 13 signaled the start of a rough stretch.
The Pensacola Ice Flyers netted a pair of second-period goals 13 seconds apart to erase an IceGators lead and set the stage for a 3-2 Pensacola win at the Cajundome Saturday night.
“We had a terrible pinch and a terrible back check (on those two goals),” Gators coach Drew Omicioli said.
Goals by Joe Caveney and Stephen Buco pushed Pensacola ahead 2-1 with 13:28 remaining in the second period. The scoring burst came after an initial Gators goal by defenseman Dan Cornell that put the Gators on top 1-0 a minute into the period.
The margin stayed at a goal until the Ice Flyers tacked on another power play goal and widened the gap when Corey Banfield beat Gator goalie Brad Barone to make it 3-1 in the final minute.
That eventual game-winner came during a 5-on-3 advantage for Pensacola created by an elbowing penalty handed out to Johnny Daniels and a cross-checking minor given to Brad Bourke during the late stages of the second period.
The deficit contributed to a different atmosphere in the final 20 minutes, as the Gators outshot Pensacola 11-9.
“We played 25 minutes of good hockey and took off 35 minutes,” Omicioli said. “If we played the way we did in the third period for three straight periods, there is no question that we win.”
The Gators put enough pressure on Pensacola goalie John McLean to create a crack when Jake Hauswirth took a pass from Daniels and scored with 8:35 left in the game. However, that was as close as the Gators would get. McLean stopped 27 of 29 Gators shots to get the win.
“We fanned on 20 puck,s and we had tape-to-tape passes that we fumbled like a hot potato,” Omicioli said.
The Gators will play their next 10 games on the road before they see the Cajundome again in a game against Huntsville on Feb. 19. The team is 6-4 on the road, but is 4-9-3 so far at home.
“We play better on the road for some reason, and I have never seen it in my career,” Omicioli said. “You can’t win a championship or even make the playoffs without winning at home. To have four wins in 16 home games is unacceptable.”