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Hockey: Illiana Blackbirds fall short of sweeping rival

Updated: December 1, 2013 7:04AM



DYER — As the old clique goes, familiarity breeds contempt. And in the case of the Illiana Blackbirds, it made it even tougher to get a sweep in their three-game homestand with Central Wisconsin at the Midwest Training and Ice Center in Dyer.

After picking up decisive wins over the Saints on Friday (4-1) and Saturday (6-1), the Blackbirds lost the final game of the series 4-3 with the game-winner coming one minute into the third period on a shot just inside the blueline by Dylan Grant.

“Any time you try to sweep a team, it’s really difficult, especially in that third game,” said Blackbirds assistant coach Jake Engquist.

“Today they had a little more in the tank.”

Case in point: In the first two games of the series, the Blackbirds scored first and dominated the score sheet in the third period.

On Sunday, though, the Saints scored first on a 5-on-3 power play with Grant lighting the lamp at 16:28.

And unlike the past two games, the Blackbirds were outscored in the final period 2-0, including a Grant goal right after the Blackbirds killed a penalty at the 1:08 mark of the third period from the right point that put the Blackbirds in a 3-2 hole they couldn’t dig out of.

The Blackbirds emptied their net for a sixth attacker in the final minute of the game, but on a Saints counter-attack, a Blackbirds player knocked the net of off it’s morings. By league rules, when that happens, the attacking team is awarded a goal.

“We came out of the gates Friday and Saturday and smoked them pretty good,” Eugquist said. “We played a solid fundamental game, but they had more energy today.”

The Blackbirds came back from one-goal deficits twice, both coming in the second period with Antonio Ercoli tying the game at 1-1 and Nathan Alosio tying it at 2-2 at 4:19.



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