With less than two minutes remaining in last night's game, Skipjacks coach Robbie Laird was no doubt thinking about sneaking out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with a point.
After all, the Jacks -- 1-4-1 on the road trip through Canada's Maritime Provinces, going into the game -- were certainly in no position to argue. As Laird said after Tuesday's loss, salvaging anything is the key here.
But once again, it wasn't meant to be.
The Jacks (9-8-1) allowed a goal to Jaro Sevcik with 1:54 remaining and an empty-netter to Marc Fortier with 25 seconds left to lose to the Citadels, 4-2.
"I know it's hard for everyone back there to know it, but we're really playing good hockey," Laird said. "We've just run into a streak of hot goaltenders and we're not winning."
Laird points to the facts:
* The Jacks have outshot their opponents in all but two games of the trip, which mercifully ends tomorrow in Sydney against Cape Breton.
* Despite playing with four defensemen almost exclusively, the Jacks have held opponents to less than 30 shots in all but one game.
* Playing without No. 1 goalie Jim Hrivnak for all but two games of the trip, rookie Olaf Kolzig has stepped in and actually lowered the team goals-against average.
"But it doesn't mean much when you're not winning," Laird conceded.
Last night -- without defensemen Mark Ferner (concussion), Kent Paynter (hamstring) and Rob Mendel (rib) and center Alfie Turcotte (thigh), who also leads the team in scoring -- the Jacks got a new burst of offense from Tyler Larter, who scored both goals.
But, as Laird said, it's not offensive apathy that's causing the Jacks to fall in the standings (now tied for second with Adirondack and heading south in the Southern Division), it's goaltending mastery.
"The goalies in Fredericton, Cape Breton and Halifax are the three best I've seen in the league," Laird said. "That may be a knock against the Southern Division but it's just the way it is. It's meant the difference in a lot of points for us.