HANCOCK - Since coming back from winter break, the Finlandia men's hockey team has been knocking on the doorstep of success.
But while the Lions figure out how to open it, the losses continue to pile up.
After falling 3-2 Friday to the Concordia (Wis.), the Lions were dealt a sweep Saturday as they suffered a 5-4 defeat to their Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association opponent, despite opening the game with a two-goal lead. FU is now 3-12 on the season with a 3-7 conference record.
"That was a tough one," McCabe said. "You know the effort was there, although we had a couple lapses. We worked hard but I'm not really sure if we worked smart the whole game.
"Our guys played very hard both games, the effort and intensity and physicality was there, but you can't have those little lapses and expect to be successful at this level."
Leading scorer Collin Saint-Onge put the Lions ahead four minutes into the game with his 10th goal of the season when the forward carried a solo rush into the zone and sniped a wrister past Concordia goalie Jake Hebda.
Concordia1 2 2 - 5
Finlandia2 1 1 - 4
First period - 1, FIN, Collin Saint-Onge (unassisted), 4:05; 2, FIN, Ryan Daavettila (Alex Heinonen, Dino Burggrabe), 7:02 (PP); 3, CUW, Martin Krestan (Cody Kostecki, James Poston), 14:48. Penalties - CUW, Trammell Lynes (interference), 5:40; FIN, Kevin Smith (slashing), 5:45; CUW, Morgan Sanchez (tripping), 6:56; FIN, Bench (too many men), 8:53; CUW, Martin Krestan (contact to the head), 9:00; FIN, Shigenobu Kakudate (slashing), 10:02; FIN, Mike Montrose (boarding), 13:53; CUW, Eli Riddle (slashing); CUW, Brandon Bayer (slashing and roughing), 17;19; FIN, Jordan Passino (slashing and roughing), 17:19; CUW, Cody Kostecki (slashing) 19:37.
Second period - 4, CUW, Buster Hebda (Dan Shilts), 6:14; 5, FIN, Justin Scott (Cole Workman, Kakudate), 11:33; 6, CUW, Morgan Sanchez (James Poston), 19:26. Penalties - CUW, Dan Szerlip (unsportsmanlike), 1:03; FIN, Sean Burke (unsportsmanlike), 1:03; CUW, Harrison Newlands (roughing), 13:09; CUW, Hebda (cross-checking), 13:09; FIN, Warren Webster (roughing), 13:09.
Third period - 7, CUW, Krestan (Poston), 5:50; 8, CUW, Sanchez (Bayer), 6:28; 9, FIN, Saint-Onge (Burke, Essel), 7:05. Penalties - CUW, Krestan (slashing), 2:38; CUW, Lawrence Child (roughing), 8:48; FIN, Smith (roughing), 8:48.
Goalie saves - CUW, Jake Hebda (27 shots, 23 saves), FIN, Troy Chandler (34 shots, 29 saves).
Ryan Daavettila made it a two-goal lead three minutes later on the power play after lifting a one-timer top-shelf on a nifty pass from Alex Heinonen.
A flurry of penalties - 13 in all were called in the period - stymied Finlandia's momentum, however, and Concordia was able to get one back by forcing a turnover and banging in a rebound with just over five minutes remaining in the period.
"We just have to better in our end on the ice to be successful at this level," McCabe said. "If you have breakdowns like we did, good teams will make you pay and (Concordia) did tonight."
Concordia tied it up twice - sandwiched around the Lions Justin Scott's tally from the slot - in the second period when loose pucks weren't properly cleared in front of FU netminder Troy Chandler.
"It is just puck management," McCabe said. "We didn't get pucks deep when we should have and there were guys missing their assignments in front of the net. Add those two things to the equation and it usually equals the other team scoring a goal or two and that is what happened."
A tie game quickly became a two-goal deficit when Concordia added two more dirty tallies in the third period within 90 seconds of each other.
And though Saint-Onge was able to get one back with another strong shot from the right circle, the Finlandia rally fell short and the weekend ended with zero points gained.
The goal was Saint-Onge's 11th of the season. Scott ranks second on the team with six.
"He is dangerous any time he touches the puck," McCabe said. "We are lucky to have a player like him but we need some other guys to step up also."