Published: Saturday, December 30, 2006
Banga's goal in shootout sinks SteelHounds
Brad Patterson scored three goals for Youngstown in a 6-5 loss to the Memphis RiverKings.
By GREG GULAS
YOUNGSTOWN There seems to be quite a rivalry developing between Northeast Division rivals Memphis and Youngstown.
Friday, Travis Banga's goal in the shootout session helped lift the division-leading RiverKings to a 6-5 win over the SteelHounds in Central Hockey League action at the Chevrolet Centre.
Banga connected with the one and only shot that could overshadow the three-goal effort by Youngstown's Brad Patterson.
"We have five excellent shooters if the game goes to a shootout, and even more if we need to go deeper," Banga said. "I've been struggling of late so I was happy to get the call from coach [Kevin McClelland] with the game on the line.
"He [SteelHound goalie David Currie] took away my shot so I had to make a move," Banga said. "I was very fortunate to have it sneak in.
"When you play a team 11 times during the season, especially if the teams are one-two in the division, a rivalry cannot help but develop," Banga said. "This was a big win for us tonight, especially since it came on the road."
RiverKings pad lead
The RiverKings moved to 18-6-3 (39 points) overall, winning for the seventh time in 10 road outings while opening up a five-point lead over Youngstown in the division.
The SteelHounds fell to 14-7-6 (34 points), falling for just the third time (7-3-2) in 12 home frays. They are 2-1-2 in five outings against Memphis this season.
"While they got off to a good start, I thought that we battled back and then played solid hockey," SteelHounds coach Kevin Kaminski said. "Our effort was definitely there and it was nice to see our power play work, but they are fourth in the league in power play opportunities for a reason and that is what hurt us in the end.
"Brad [Patterson] had an excellent game," Kaminski said. "He is smart, has good speed and can make the little plays back to both [Chris] Richards and [Jeff] Christian. All three can bury the puck when they the opportunity arises.
"If you thought this was a physical game tonight, tomorrow's game should be even better," Kaminski said. "We have to come out and play like it is the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals. Play with a sense of urgency. Since we don't play for another week, we need to salvage a split of the series and pull to within three points before we break for the New Year."
It took Memphis just 3:31 into the game to get on the board, that coming when Rick Kozak found the back of the net, unassisted, for his 10th goal of the season.
A little more than two minutes later, Ryan Held buried a shot to give the RiverKings the early 2-0 advantage.
As if to not be outdone, Patterson's first goal of the game just 15 seconds later cut the Memphis lead in half.
When he registered his next goal at 16:27, the game was knotted at two goals apiece after the first 20 minutes of play.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Patterson said. "We've been chasing Memphis since the start of the season so you don't want to go to the extra session, especially with a division rival.
"There's definitely a healthy rivalry developing between these two teams," Patterson said. "Tonight's game really had a play-off type atmosphere."
A goal by Derek Landmesser at 2:17 of the second period helped Memphis regain the lead, 3-2.
When Patterson completed his hat trick, the second of his CHL career just 57 seconds later, the SteelHounds were able to forge their second tie of the night at three-all.
Kozak's second goal of the game at 5:13 of the frame helped Memphis regain the lead, 4-3, but back-to-back goals by Chris Richards, his team leading18th of the season, gave Youngstown a 5-4 lead heading into the final period of play.
With time winding down, the RiverKings' Phil Aucoin scored at 17:20 and that proved to be just enough to force the overtime session.
After a scoreless overtime period, Ryan Campbell and Banga registered the two tallies in the shootout for Memphis while Richards was the only Steelhound who could get the puck past winning goalie Larry Sterling.
Sterling, who was starting his 21st consecutive contest, is now 17-5-3 overall with the win while the SteelHounds held a 31-25 shots on goal advantage.
"You witnessed two very good teams going at it tonight. Like Youngstown, we have a pretty resilient bunch. Neither team would quit," McClelland said.
"I have a lot of confidence in Travis [Banga]. He always comes through in the clutch.
"Take your hats off to Youngstown though. Under Killer [Kaminski], they don't give up," McClelland said. "They play with a lot of energy, just like he did. He never took a back seat to anyone and that is how his team plays."