Chatham fans watched a team Sunday playing the quick, aggressive transition game Maroons head coach Tyler Roeszler wants to see every night.
That team was the LaSalle Vipers.
The Maroons’ three-game point streak ended with a 9-2 loss before a crowd of 690 at Chatham Memorial Arena.
“The last three games we got rewarded because we played the right way and how we want to play: fast and in the offensive zone advancing pucks behind their ‘D’,” Roeszler said. “Tonight we didn’t do any of those things and we got exactly what we deserved.
“They played the game that we want to play. That’s exactly how we want to play, what LaSalle brought tonight. Kudos to them. They buried on all their chances. It seemed like every time we got some momentum they came back and scored right away.”
The Maroons were 2-0-0-1 in their first three games after Kyle Makaric was fired and replaced by Roeszler, their general manager.
“Like we told our guys, you’re never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are,” Roeszler said. “We probably felt pretty good about ourselves the first three games. This is a humbling experience. A team came ready to work and took our game and brought it right to us.
“But it’s adversity. We’ll get back to work on Tuesday and fix the things we need to fix. … It’s a great lesson early in the year. When you don’t play right, you don’t get rewarded.”
The Vipers scored three goals in the first period and six in the second. They were shut out in the third despite outshooting the Maroons 21-5.
The Vipers outshot the Maroons 55-21 overall.
Dallas Maurovic and Griffin Robinson scored for the Maroons (8-9-1-4), who are in fifth place in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Western Conference. Robinson missed the previous two games with an injury.
Starting goalie Kevin Linker gave up five goals on 41 shots. He was pulled early in the second period but returned for the third.
Bryce Walcarius allowed four goals on 14 shots in his Maroons debut. He was acquired one week earlier from the London Nationals for cash.
It was Walcarius’s first game in three weeks. The 17-year-old from Aylmer hadn’t played since stopping 28 of 29 shots in the Nationals’ 6-1 win over the Vipers on Oct. 26.
“It felt good getting back on the ice, getting back in the flow of the game,” he said. “Although it didn’t exactly go our way, it felt good getting back out there.”
The Vipers lead the season series 5-0. They’ve outscored the Maroons by a combined score of 36-12.
Ethan Hamelin scored two goals for the fourth-place Vipers (12-8-1-2), who are six points up on the Maroons.
Colton Krzeminski, Isaac LeGood, Ray Hamlin, James Jodoin, AJ Ryan, Stephane Crevier and Hayden Heinrich added singles. Sami Molu made 19 saves.
“We got outworked by a team that played the right way,” Roeszler said. “They were all over us. I think they scored on every chance that they had. A lesson to our offensive players, too. Be held accountable to finish your chances. Those guys did tonight and they put the game away early because they just buried on their chances.”
NOTES: The Maroons have released rookie forward Ty Moss. The 18-year-old from Windsor had one goal and seven assists in 13 games. … The Maroons have hired Kent Hamilton as an assistant coach. He’s a former Blenheim Blades assistant coach. … The Maroons will visit the Strathroy Rockets on Saturday and host the Leamington Flyers at 7 p.m. Sunday. … Chatham has allowed 102 goals, the second-most in the Western Conference. St. Thomas has given up 115.
Walcarius was less than three months into his rookie season when he was traded.
“It’s definitely a lot for the start of my junior ‘B’ career, but it’s a long road,” he said. “It was bound to happen at some point.”
He suspected a move was coming when the Nationals allowed four or more goals in eight of 10 games in October. They traded him a week after signing Shawn Wiranata to pair with fellow 19-year-old Devyn Clark in net.
“It definitely sucks what happened in London and so it definitely feels good to come out to a new organization that’s really welcoming me in and wants me to be a part of the team,” Walcarius said.
The Maroons now have three healthy goalies with Walcarius, Linker and Tiago Rocha.
“It’s fine,” Walcarius said. “We still get along a lot. There’s nothing wrong there.”
The Maroons’ coaches gave him the same message as their other goaltenders.
“They’re looking for me to come out and try to compete for a starting role and then next year to hopefully take the role of being a starting goalie and help bring this team to what it used to be before,” Walcarius said.