For the Skipjacks, defensive reality set in last night at the Arena.
Despite having an unquestioned offensive powerhouse, these baby Jacks have some problems on the back line and they might not soon disappear.
All that it's going to take to stop the Jacks (5-3) is a hot goaltender and last night he appeared in the form of Mike Parson, who stopped nearly everything the Jacks could offer in a 5-2 loss to the Maine Mariners.
"We know the caliber of goaltending in this league is very good," Jacks coach Robbie Laird said. "There's no question we need to work on the defensive part of the game. We need to get better and we're going to spend more time during practice going over it."
Last night the Jacks fell behind the Mariners (4-3-1) by a pair of goals just more than a minute into the second period but answered a minute later with a opportunistic goal from Tim Taylor, who poked a loose puck free from under Parson's glove.
But on the ensuing rush after the faceoff, four Jacks were caught deep in the offensive zone looking for the equalizer and allowed the Mariners a 3-on-1, leaving goalie Jim Hrivnak unprotected at the other end. Ken Hodge beat Hrivnak at 3:17 and Tim Hoover repeated the trick three minutes later, forcing Laird to pull Hrivnak in favor of Shawn Simpson, who had yet to see action this season.
"I had been waiting to get Shawn into a game and it felt like the right time," Laird said.
Coming into a 4-1 game, Simpson said he was looking for wide-open play and, perhaps, several breakaways while the Jacks tried to climb back into the game. The rush never materialized.
"You can never tell what's going to happen when a new goalie comes in," Simpson said. "Sometimes it rallies them, sometimes they fall apart. It didn't seem to do either one."
The Jacks got plenty of scoring opportunities -- 16 shots in the second period and 35 for the game -- but Parson was up to the task.
"Their goalie played a great game and once they got the lead their defense played smart in front of him," said defenseman Kent Paynter. "They weren't about to make mistakes and let us back in."
Although no one used it as an excuse, the Jacks looked awfully tired playing their fourth game in five nights after busing to upstate New York for games in Utica and Troy.
"We didn't have a lot of energy but I'm not going to dwell on the trip," Laird said.
"Some guys are tired but this league demands three-in-three weekends and you've got to get used to it if you're going to win," Paynter said.
Right wing John Purves was recalled by the Washington Capitals after the game. He will meet the Caps in Chicago for tomorrow's game and continue on their trip to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Four Jacks -- Mark Ferner (ankle), Bobby Babcock (wrist), Bob Joyce (ankle) and Steve Seftel (flu) -- are out of the lineup with ailments.