The score didn't reflect it, but it was a messy home opener on Tuesday night at the Civic Centre for the AAA Stars, who lost 2-1 to the Saskatoon Contacts.
It was their third straight loss of the season, as they are now 1-4 through five games.
"We gave up too many shots and didn't work hard enough in the defensive zone," Stars head coach Norm Johnston said after the game. "We won't stand in front of the net. They had the puck more than we did and they shot the puck on net. When they had the puck, they got shots.
"It's body on body, stick on stick on the wall. It's body on stick, and stick in the passing lane inside the defensive zone when they have the puck. Not body on body. And [we] go body on body and stick on stick and [the opponent] keeps shooting the puck."
Goaltender Joseph Young kept the home side in the game again and again, and finished with 46 saves, but the Stars were constantly in the penalty box or stuck in their own end.
"Young's been oustanding," Johnston said when asked if there were any positives. "[Goaltender Carter] Seryhenko has been great. Our defence is getting better. But I didn't realize we were going to have so many issues scoring. I just don't understand."
The Stars have just three goals during their three-game losing streak.
They scored nine in their first two games.
"We've got ot get it turned around, somehow," Johnston said. "I dont know what they're doing. We're spending hours at the rink trying to get it turned. I thought tonight we were going to turn it around.
"We had lots of chances. [Contacts goalie Rayce Ramsay] was outstanding. He made three or four outstanding glove saves. Two or three on [Dylan] Esau."
Johnston said penalty trouble arose because of the Stars sloppy defensive play and because they were just a step behind.
"Basically we're late to the puck and what happens is when you're late to the puck, your feet don't move, you start wahacking and hacking," Johnston said. "That's what's happening."
Meanwhile, the Stars power play couldn't get any momentum.
In the first period, they could barely generate any good chances on two early man advantages. They were then outplayed for the remainder of the frame, where Josh Paulhus opened the scoring to give the Contacts a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
In the second, Prince Albert Raiders prospect Cohner Saleski scored to make it 2-0.
In the third period, Adam Beckman did score an incredible, highlight-reel goal for the AAA Stars, when he put the puck on his stick and wrapped it around the net lacrosse-style to close the gap to one, but that's as close as the Stars would get.
"Usually we give up too many [shorthanded] goals but our PK was OK," Johnston added. "But our power play wasn't very good. I never anticipated our problem would be scoring goals this year when I got here. I just didn't. I just didn't anticipate the issue we're having right now. We're struggling like a beehive with scoring goals.
"2-1 hockey game for AAA midgets — usually you've got 5-3, 6-4. But a 2-1 game?"
The Stars host the Swift Current Legionnaires on Saturday night at the Civic Centre, who they lost to twice on road last weekend, by scores of 4-0 and 4-2. The game is set for 7:30 p.m.
On Twitter: @NathanKanter11
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