After five victories in their previous six games, the Vancouver Giants seemed to have found some consistency in their game.
But a 5-4 loss to the visiting Tri-City Americans had head coach Jason McKee lamenting his hockey club taking a step back.
The Giants reverted back to their early-season form of turning the puck over and taking too many penalties on Sunday at the Langley Events Centre.
Two of the Americans goals were unassisted and came directly off turnovers while another pair were power-play markers. That put the Giants behind 5-2 after 40 minutes and despite a pair of goals — and 17 shots on net in the final period — Vancouver could not get the equalizer.
The loss dropped Vancouver to 6-9-0-0, including a paltry 2-6-0-0 on home ice.
“It is frustrating, it is disappointing that we continue to talk about the same things. At some point … we have got to figure it out,” McKee said in his post-game comments.
“I guess it is my job to keep pounding away at this and find ways for us to realize how much it is hurting this team.”
The Giants had a great start to Sunday’s game, generating the first five shots on goal and taking the early lead when Radovan Bondra walked out from behind the net and fired home his team-leading eighth goal.
The teams went into the intermission tied at one goal apiece and 23 seconds into the middle frame, Thomas Foster fed Tyler Benson in the slot and the captain picked the top corner for the 2-1 lead.
But the rest of the period belonged to Tri-City as they bagged another goal off a turnover and then scored a pair of power-play goals and finally a fifth goal where an Americans player was left all alone in front.
The fifth goal marked the end of the night for Giants goaltender Ryan Kubic — the reigning Canadian Hockey League goalie of the week — who was pulled in favour of David Tendeck.
McKee said the entire team was at fault for what transpired in the second period.
“From the goaltender, to the defence, to the forwards … everyone was involved from what happened and how we let it get away,” he said.
The Giants discipline was also an issue in the middle stanza with the team whistled for five minor penalties, two of which resulted in goals against.
“We just continued to take too many penalties.
“We talk about it not only on a daily basis but it seems like almost an hourly basis and we still continue to take penalties,” McKee said.
“And they have one of the top power plays in the league, they can really move it around, and we put ourselves in tough spots and they made us pay for it.
“When that happened, we came out of our structure and we had a lot of individual mistakes.”
With a tired opponent — this was the Americans third game in as many days — the Giants controlled the third period, managing a pair of goals — James Malm poked home a puck on the power play and Johnny Wesley wired a wrist shot — but the team could not get the tying goal.
“In the third, we started to play with some urgency, some emotion and for the most part played with some structure and created some opportunities for ourselves,” McKee said.
The team was off on Monday and McKee was looking forward to three solid days of practice before the team begins a home-and-home series with the Kamloops Blazers.
The teams are in Kamloops on Friday night before they re-engage on Saturday night at the LEC.
Puck drop is 7 p.m. for both games.