Consider the Golden Eagles' 5-4 triumph over the Kalamazoo Wings in IHL action Friday night a matter of punctuation. There was the period. The combined quotation marks and exclamation point. One question mark removed. And one still lingering in the not-too-distant future.
Salt Lake deployed a strong, four-goal showing in the second period as the Eagles posted their second straight victory over the Eastern Division-leading Wings - this time in front of a season-high Salt Palace crowd of 9,148.After the game, Wings Coach John Marks punctuated his terse post-game comments with expletives and a self-proclaimed exclamation point. "We skated in the first period, we skated in the third period, and we didn't skate in the second period," said Marks as he tossed about towels and papers in a locker-room office. "That's been the story of every one of our losses this year - you can put that in quotation marks and with an exclamation point. And that's all I've got to say tonight."
The question mark removed involves a mini-slump of sorts for Salt Lake, which had won only two of its previous eight games before the Eagles' 9-3 win over the Wings on Wednesday, with Coach Bob Francis saying he's noticed marked improvement through the past three games now, including last weekend's 2-1 loss to Indianapolis and the back-to-back victories over Kalamazoo.
"There's always room for improvement, but we regained our focus in that game with Indianapolis," said Francis. "We've got it going . . . Hopefully we'll carry that to the next step, which is bringing it on the road."
Ah, yes, the remaining question mark - will Salt Lake's successes of late be sustained? Tonight's game in Indianapolis begins a three-game road swing, and 10 of the Eagles' next 13 games are on the road. "The challenge is still there," said Francis.
In Wednesday's 9-5 win against the Wings, 13 different Eagle players scored a point. In earning five goals Friday night, 11 Salt Lake players scored points - led by Rich Chernomaz's two goals, Paul Kruse's goal and assist and Marc Bureau's pair of assists.
The Wings opened Friday's game with Steve Gotaas's power-play rebound goal with 5:12 gone. Eagle goalkeeper Steve Guenette and company withstood the rest of Kalamazoo's threats in period, including a four-minute penalty-killing stretch in the second 10 minutes of period.
The Eagles evened the score at the 18:50 mark on a quick-attack score - a give-and-go goal as Chernomaz streaked down the middle, dumped the puck off to Bureau on the left side and then received it back in stride to tap in the goal.
Then came the second period and a renewed Eagle effort of pushing the puck deep and playing more physical - despite an early goal by Kalamazoo's J.F. Quintin. Wings goalie Larry Dyck turned back a number of S.L. shots early in the period, but the Eagles eventually tallied four scores.
C.J. Young's knocked-down-and-tapped-in rebound goal tied the score at 2-all at 13:16, and just 21 seconds later, Kruse found the puck coming his way from a faceoff in the Kalamazoo end and put it past Dyck for a 3-2 S.L. advantage. At the 16:33 mark, Bryan Deasley scored his seventh goal in six games by accepting a cross-ice pass from Ken Sabourin for a 4-2 margin.
And the Bureau-Chernomaz combination clicked for the fourth goal of the period as the former snapped an assist from the deep leftside corner to the latter, who in turn scored his second goal of the night.
Kalamazoo scored twice in the final period, as the Wings dropped to a 26-10 overall record. Salt Lake improved to 18-16, with two OT losses.