Ever since the start of the "The Streak," the Golden Eagles hadn't given up more than three goals in a game, thanks to their improved defense and goaltending.
That is, until Wednesday night when they gave up three goals to Muskegon in the first period alone.Still it didn't make any difference because the Eagles had plenty of offense to take a 7-4 victory before 5,204 at the Salt Palace. That extended the Eagle winning streak to 11 with a pair of home games coming up this weekend - Muskegon again on Friday and San Diego Saturday.
Marc Bureau, Rich Chernomaz and Darryl Olsen each scored two goals and Kevan Melrose added a late goal for the Eagles, who are doing everything right these days.
"Everybody is contributing to the success of the team right now," said Bureau, who leads the team with 37 goals. "Sometimes you forget the defense a little bit, but that's why we're winning right now."
Olsen, who is one of the team's top defensemen, became offensive with goals in the first and secondperiods. For the night he put up nine shots, the most by an Eagle this year and just missed getting his hat trick in the third period. Still, he agreed defense is the main reason for the Eagles' improved play in February.
"In January we were having a tough time for awhile," said Olsen. "So we changed our style to cut down the goals and the shots. Now we're thinking defense first, making sure we get the puck out to our forwards."
The defense had a few problems in the first period when the Lumberjacks put three goals in the net. Perry Ganchar got two of them, one in the first three minutes, the second just before the end of the period. Mitch Wilson scored the other.
"In the first period I liked our play with the puck, but we didn't do a very good job away from the puck," said Eagle coach Bob Francis. "The penalties disrupted the flow in the second period, but we played a solid third period."
After Olsen put the Eagles up 4-3 just 19 seconds into the second period with shot from the top of the right circle, the Lumberjacks had four power- play opportunites and failed to score on any of them. For the night, they were a miserable 0-for-8 with a man advantage.
"Our penalty-killing has been exceptional the last month and it came up large tonight," said Francis. "It's no coincidence that when your penalty-killing is going well, you have success."
After Olsen's early goal in the second, no one scored until Bureau scored on the power play at 19:17. The puck went around the horn from Tim Sweeney on the right to Olsen at the top to Bureau on the left for the goal.
In the third Chernomaz scored his eighth goal in the last seven games as he beat two defensemen, then scored on the breakaway.
"It was ugly out on the ice," said Muskegon Coach Blair MacDonald, who gave is team a good tongue-lashing after the game. "We just gave up too many bad goals. We had to work our tails off to get one and they're getting 50-footers on us. We can't seem to keep our concentration up for 60 minutes."
They'll get another chance Friday when the Eagles go for No. 12 in a row.
Fri., Feb. 22 - MUSKEGON
Sat., Feb. 23 - SAN DIEGO
Tue., Feb. 26 - KALAMAZOO
Thu., Feb. 28 - KALAMAZOO
Fri., Mar. 1 - at Kalamazoo
Sat., Mar. 2 - at Milwaukee
Fri., Mar. 8 - at San Diego
Sun., Mar. 10 - at San Diego
Tue., Mar. 12 - KANSAS CITY
Thu., Mar. 14 - KANSAS CITY
Sat., Mar. 16 - at Muskegon
Sun., Mar. 17 - at Ft. Wayne
Wed., Mar. 20 - PHOENIX
Fri., Mar. 22 - PHOENIX
Sat., Mar. 23 - at Phoenix
Tue., Mar. 26 - PEORIA
Thu., Mar. 28 - PEORIA
Fri., Mar. 29 - at Phoenix
Tue., Apr. 2 - KANSAS CITY
Fri., Apr. 5 - KANSAS CITY
Sat., Apr. 6 - at San Diego
Sun., Apr. 7 - at San Diego
Home games in CAPS