Every week, despite it not being a live broadcast I always make sure that I record the intro to the Jets TV highlights ahead of the game and then I record the closing summary after the game. This week I made reference to pushing for our 8th successive win in the intro but as the game progressed it looked like my intro might turn out to be a bit inaccurate.
The Jets as it turned out failed to secure that 8th win, despite a convincing win at Swindon the previous night the Jets failed to extend the winning streak past 7 wins and the Wildcats took Sunday’s points.
Seven wins is a great streak in this year’s league, it’s the longest any team has achieved so far this season and it’s lifted the Jets to the top of the table in both the league and cup competitions where they’ve stayed despite the loss. It’s obvious that the Jets weren’t going to go the rest of the season without losing a game, it’s obvious that the winning streak was going to come to an end sometime and Sunday was that time.
It’s frustrating that after a convincing win the previous night against the same opponents that it was Swindon who ended the streak but it’s happened. The guys gave their all for 60 minutes, they came up against a netminder having a real blinder of a game and the result went to the team that played the better hockey on the night.
It’s a shame that after a loss some have to publicly look for a sinister reason behind the loss. As someone who’s played sport before I know how frustrating it is when despite doing nothing wrong in preparation little goes right at game time. Things that you take for granted as automatic actions sometimes just don’t go that way and then there’s little you can do to get going again. The more frustrated you get by this the bigger the issue becomes and then you end up focussing on your own personal game, you focus on the fact your team is behind and the pressure mounts making it even more difficult to re-capture the natural rhythm needed for your sport. The fact is that losses occur in sport without sinister reasons and rumours fuelling the speculation of sinister reason are often just idle gossip.
The main point now is not what’s happened but what happens. Sunday’s result is a done deal now but this weekend’s results aren’t. The Jets face Peterborough and Bracknell this weekend and that’s two good chances to start another winning run. Two games against Peterborough have already shown that they can be beaten and Bracknell know that either team can win those exchanges too. The point is that two good performances from the Jets this weekend should result in 4 points and a 2 game winning streak starting.
So the game itself and the Jets had chances to finish the game. Murdy in net for the Wildcats was on top form and made some big saves and his shut-out was not to be underestimated. There are however positives to be taken from the game despite the shut-out loss. Shep has stated that he wants the Jets to focus on conceding two or less goals in every game and then back the forwards to win a good majority of those games. The Jets did just that, they conceded just two goals and then one into the empty net at the end but in a rare freak occurrence our highly productive forward lines got shut down for the night. With all that talent in the team there’s no way this Jets team is going to get shut-down regularly.
People have said that we concede too many goals, the fact is one Sunday we didn’t! The forwards who have scored freely, almost for fun up, until Sunday for once didn’t manage that and that’s the story of the game. Against Peterborough and Bracknell you’d think that if the defence concede 2 or less our forwards will score the necessary goals and I’m sure when the Wildcats come to the Hangar again on New Year’s Day the result will be different.
Last Sunday just goes to prove the unpredictability of this league. It proves that anyone can turn anyone over but the fact remains that one team has been the most consistent so far this season and for that reason they still sit at the top of the table. There’s 14 games played and 40 left to play, the Jets have been the most consistent so far and have a great platform to build from for those 40 games ahead but there’s any chance to any of the other teams could mount a serious challenge.