The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 25, 2010

Chiefs hope to end skid by returning home

Mike Mastovich
The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — The Johnstown Chiefs will attempt to snap the latest in a long line of losing streaks tonight when the Toledo Walleye visit Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

The last-place Chiefs have dropped five straight while being outscored 23-5 during that stretch.

Actually, Johnstown has lost 11 of its past 12 games and 17 of 19 since Feb. 12. In that run of futility, the Chiefs have had losing streaks of seven, five and the current five games.

“We couldn’t score for a couple games, and now we scored three but found a way to allow four again,” Chiefs coach and owner Neil Smith said, referring to Wednesday’s 4-3 setback at Trenton. “It gets to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Subconsciously you’re so used to losing that you almost expect it. You’re trying to break that cycle. With our team, it just seems like we’re not confident to hold the lead. When we get scored on it’s almost like, ‘Here we go again.’ You try to stay positive. It’s hard at this point of the season after this long of a year.

“I don’t think anybody is not trying,” Smith added. “It’s a challenge.”

After tonight’s game, the Chiefs will host Cincinnati on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. Toledo visits on Wednesday, and the Chiefs travel to Cincinnati on April 2 before wrapping up their season and ECHL history with an April 3 home game against Elmira.

Smith said two recent signings have helped the injury-depleted Chiefs fill their roster and boost the morale.

Forward Kyle Laughlin signed on Saturday after playing 20 games for Reading (1-1-2). He’s scoreless in three games with the Chiefs. Defenseman Luke Lucyk signed on Monday after playing 19 games for Trenton (0-1-1). He was scoreless in his Chiefs debut on Wednesday.

“They bring some energy,” Smith said.

“We badly needed a regular defenseman. We were going five for quite a while. Brian Kaufman had been doing well for a guy who hadn’t played defense before. Guys were just getting worn down. Laughlin is an energy player. He’s the son of Craig Laughlin (a television analyst) who does games for (the) Washington (Capitals).

“We’re so down in bodies with Dan Collins hurt, David Schulz got hurt, Dan Gendur got hurt. The defense was decimated. We picked up those kids. In games, the guys have been working hard, but it’s tough to keep them focused when they’re out of it like this.”