The hardest question for any of the Skipjacks to answer last night was "What happened?"
Playing a mediocre Halifax team with five starters out of the lineup, two players on loan from the ECHL and one import from the New Brunswick Senior League, the Jacks were no-shows at the Arena last night in a 5-4 loss.
Some mildly put the blame on the grueling three-game weekend. Some said it was a lack of intensity on both sides. But the real reason, as Citadels coach Clement Jodoin pointed out, was the play of goalie Scott Gordon, who had 32 saves.
"We weren't better than they were tonight, but Scott Gordon is the reason we won," Jodoin said. "He made the saves when he had to."
Gordon, who played for the Jacks during the dreadful independent season of 1987-88, has seen ice time in just two games since Nov. 19. As a member of the almost-as-dreadful Quebec Nordiques for much of this season, Gordon said the defense he saw in front of him last night was better than what he got in the NHL.
"It's a case of making the best of what you got and this team did that," Gordon said. "I had defensemen jumping in front of the puck, sacrificing the body and working hard. I never saw that with Quebec."
Gordon surrendered five goals in a little under two periods against Boston Sunday night -- his first appearance in more than 45 days -- and was promptly shipped out to play for the Citadels (25-25-10).
The Jacks (31-24-3) got slowly sucked into the Citadels' sluggish defensive style, providing little excitement for the tiny crowd of 2,405.
"We didn't reach deep down and find the intensity level we needed to win the game," said coach Robbie Laird, whose Jacks remained five points behind first-place Rochester.
With Jim Hrivnak serving a one-game suspension, goalie Olaf Kolzig flew in from Hampton and was, in his own words, "very bad," allowing several soft goals.
The only Skipjack who showed any life was center Alfie Turcotte, who earned a hat trick with a goal in each period.
"As a whole -- me included -- we didn't play well," Turcotte said.
Center Tim Taylor best put the loss and the team's situation into perspective.
"Look at the schedule," he said. "We only have nine home games left. We needed these two points and every home game after this. It's all going to add up to the difference between first place and fourth place. We can't be wasting these games like we did."