Puckers win streak ends in a tough 5-6 loss in Besançon
It was a long way out to Besançon on Saturday afternoon where the Puckers were to face the home team in their final road game of the regular season.
After a late arrival and, as a result, only a preparation time of 10 minutes, the Puckers had a hard time getting into the game. It seemed like their minds were still in the bus when Besançon were already fully in the game. On a lost face-off, Damien Chevassut of Besançon took a shot from the point that beat screened goalie Thierry Van der Kallen at the 1:09 mark to put the home team on the scoreboard eary in the game.
Besançon played speedy and effective hockey and overwhelmed a seemingly sleepy Puckers squad. At 8:35, Adrien Séguin benefited from a bad line change of the Puckers and scored on a 2-on-0 breakaway. Less than 2 minutes later, at 10:11 of the game, Frédéric Vendola intercepted a cross-ice pass from a Puckers defender and skated into the slot to give the home team an imposing 3-0 lead after just ten minutes.
After some line shuffling, the Puckers finally woke up and started skating with Besançon. It paid off when Nick Aubin put the Puckers on the board at 13:47, tapping in his own rebound on a beautiful play with David Donzel and Momo Lutov. The team hit the locker room beaten up, but not defeated yet.
The second period started a bit in the same fashion than the first with Besançon swarming the Puckers' net early and creating multiple chances on a busy Van der Kallen. At 26:11, another bad line change led to a 3-on-1 for Besancon and David Bruot hit the back of the net for a 4-1 lead to the home team. With David Jozek sitting in the box for tripping, Besançon's Mathieu Joly tapped in the rebound off a blocked shot from the point at 29:20.
The Puckers were still playing too much "come from behind hockey" instead of focusing on their own game and an unfortunate bounce off the shin pads after a clean face-off win and a shot from the point by Pucker Bohus Kostohryz led to a breakaway for Besançon's Mikael Martin who sniped it under the bar for a commanding 6-1 lead for Besançon at the 37:24 mark.
But the Puckers are a never give up team and captain Yves Barthels led by example and scored the second goal for the Puckers shortly after the Martin goal (at 37:56) on a nice feed by Patrick Ahlstrand and after pounding the Besançon net the whole shift.
Down 2-6, the Puckers came out of the locker room with determination and will power and played a short bench to try and launch a comeback.
And finally, the Puckers played like they have most of the season, a passionate 20 minutes of hockey where they took the game to Besançon in an imposing fashion. Nick Aubin scored his second of the game at 44:33 on a feed by Bruno Vahalik and the Puckers felt energized. But it took almost 10 minutes for the Puckers to capitalize again and cut the lead in half at 53:28 when David Jozek took a shot in the slot to beat Besançon's Johann Martin. The guests had life and despite a late penalty by Patrick Ahlstrand that cost the Puckers 2 minutes of offensive zone time, there was still belief that a comeback was not impossible.
With a minute and a half to play and Besançon's Mathieu Joly in the box for roughing, It was again Nick Aubin who completed his hat trick and provided for a thrilling finale to the game at 59:03. After a won face-off, Van der Kallen headed for the bench and the Puckers were pushing for the equalizer with the extra man, but couldn't get the puck past the Besançon goalie.
To win a game, you need to play 60 minutes of hockey and the Puckers learned their lesson. After what seemed to become a blow-out win by Besançon, the Puckers - down 1-6 - showed resilience and character and the game ended up becoming a nail-biter in the end, but the winning streak still ended at 6 games and the Puckers stay in second place in the standings.
The final game of the regular season will be at home against Strasbourg on Saturday, February 13 at 20:00. With a win, the Puckers can end the season at the top of the standings, heading into the playoffs in a strong position.