Dog Caller - Arizona Sundogs 2012-2013 Playoff Run & Season Come to an End

Defenseman Zack Firlotte & Goalie David Brown - Valerie Haugh

The 2012-2013 CHL’s Playoffs continued and the Arizona Sundogs faced the Wichita Thunder in two games at home.

Last Tuesday the two teams met and the Sundogs struck first with a goal by forward Chad Nehring 7:56 into the first period, assisted by Ron Myers and Johan Ryd. Wichita would score at the 14:00 minute mark of the third and send the game to overtime. Four minutes into the extra frame the Thunder would get the game winner. Arizona had 30 shots on goal, and goalie David Brown turned away 42 of the 44 shots he faced.

On Wednesday, Wichita would get the first goal, but Arizona would tie it up with a power play goal by Cody Purves, assisted by Ron Myers and Mario Larocque, before the first intermission. In the second, the Thunder would again score first and again the Sundogs would tie it up, this time with a goal by Mario Larocque, assisted by Kip Brennan and Johan Ryd. The third period would go as the first two had with Wichita scoring first and Arizona tying it up. Forward Johan Ryd would score a power play goal, assisted by Cody Purves and Mario Larocque, sending the game into overtime. In additional time, the Thunder would go on the power play and get the series winning goal. The Sundogs totaled 30 shots on goal, and goalie David Brown made 34 saves on 38 shots.

Kibble

Those who follow my Sundogs reports know that I am not a ref basher and try to keep my opinions out of these reports, but sometimes situations arise which cannot be left uncommented upon. In the final two games of this playoff series, Arizona was the victim of such atrocious officiating that even a non-Sundogs fan in the stands commented that the games seemed fixed. I understand that in a hockey game with only a single ref things can go unseen. That being said, I watched the ref, Kevin Curtis, look directly at Wichita players punching a Sundogs' player in the face, or slam their head into the boards, and then skate away without calling a penalty. In both games, Curtis waived off a goal by Arizona, goals that on review were both shown to be clearly good goals without Sundog infractions. On both nights that waived off goal which would have been a game winner and kept a game from going to overtime. The CHL needs to focus on improving its officiating in the offseason above all other issues. There were only four series in these playoffs, thus the four best refs in the league should have been on the ice. Instead, an incompetent and what can only be taken as highly biased ref, decided a series and broke the hearts of a hardworking team and its fans.

Dog Bites

In their four games in the playoffs; Arizona was 0-4.

The Sundogs' special teams in the playoffs had a 10.53% power play percentage, 2 goals on 19 man-advantages, and an 82.61% penalty kill percentage, allowing 4 goals on 23 penalty kills, with 0 shorthanded goals scored and 1 allowed.

In the playoffs, defenseman Mario Larocque led Arizona in points with 2 goals and 2 assists.

Season in Review

The 2012-2013 season for the Sundogs was again filled with ups and downs that unfortunately ended with a heartbreaking playoff loss. The season began as many of the last had with up and down play and a revolving door of players on IR. Then, for a second straight season, there was a coaching change in the middle of the year and from that moment forward Arizona became a different team. Before a new coach was named, Captain Jason Morgan acted as coach and went undefeated in his 3-game tenure. Soon afterwards, Scott Muscutt took the reins and the team began to play as one in a way fans hadn't seen since the Sundogs' championship season.

As word of the turn-around spread, the stands began to fill a little more, and those in attendance were treated to a full 60-minutes of heads-up, hard-charging hockey from Arizona. The Sundogs made the playoffs for the first time in two years and while the ending wasn't at all what we hoped for, not a fan I have spoken to put a drop of blame on the team. The ending I choose to take from this season is the franchise record back-to-back shutouts to close out the regular season. Arizona's performances in those games are the best examples of the hard work and dedication that the team put in and the changes that were made under Coach Muscutt.

Looking forward to 2013-2014, the Sundogs have already resigned two players, Capitan Jason Morgan and forward Kevin Baker. The team does not have a coach under contract as yet, but General Manager Chris Presson has said that discussions are ongoing to return Muscutt to the position and an announcement will hopefully be made in the next 30 to 45 days. Everyone I have spoken to is pulling for Muscutt to return and for management to return as many of the current players as possible. Hope is high in the Sundogs' fan base and we cannot wait to see the ice go back in at Tim's Toyota Center.

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