In the inaugural season for the Quad-City Storm, there are going to be plenty of firsts, some good, some bad.
Friday night was bad.
The Storm blew a five-goal lead, giving up four goals in the final nine minutes to fall 6-5 in overtime to the Birmingham Bulls, the team's fourth straight loss.
"Guys think it's point night," head coach Dave Pszenyczny said. "Guys keep it simple, stick to the system, then we get away from it. ... At the end of the day, the ship was going down and nobody wanted to take a hold of the wheel."
Justin Larson scored the game-winning goal 1 minute, 46 seconds into overtime, capping a hat trick that started with his first goal at 12:22 in the third period.
The Storm led 5-1 after two periods and held that lead until 11:17, when Jacob Barber scored a shorthanded goal. Larson netted two more, then Garrett Schmitz tied the game with 50 seconds left after the Bulls pulled goaltender Charlie Millen for an extra attacker.
Though the Bulls remain unbeaten with the win, the Storm aren't impressed.
"I don't want to sound like a jerk but that's us," captain Don Olivieri said. "That team, we were all over them. We gave them whatever they had, every single goal we gave them, we basically beat ourselves. I'm not afraid to say it.
"Did they earn it? No they didn't earn it, we gave it to them. Tomorrow it's not going to be like that."
The Storm get a chance to back their words up in a rematch tonight at the TaxSlayer Center.
It's not surprising the Storm started looking for points after Olivieri and Joe McKeown each scored two goals, with McKeown's first goal giving the Storm a 1-0 lead after the first period. Olivieri scored a pair of power play goals within 100 seconds of each other to put the Storm up 3-0 just 4:05 into the second period.
Mitchell Mueller made it 4-0, and McKeown's second goal made it 5-0 at 15:06 in the second period, the most goals scored in five games for the Storm, who came in averaging a league-worst two goals per game.
"We all know we can go up on any team, we don't care who we play," Olivieri said. "It's how we finish, and I think that's a huge learning point right now."
Schmitz scored his first goal of the night to cut the lead to 5-1 with 49 seconds left in the second period, a big turning point in the game.
"You can't give up a goal in the last minute, regardless of whatever the score is. You give that team momentum," Pszenyczny said. "I told them that, but you've got guys doing selfish plays, not keeping it simple. Forcing plays, turning it over, and that's how the tides turn."
There were some other firsts in the game as the Storm outshot a team for the first time in franchise history, outshooting the Bulls 37-30, little comfort after the loss. Eric Levine made 24 saves for the Storm while Millen made 32 for the Bulls.
The Storm had never held more than a one-goal lead at any point this season and with such a new team, could have fallen back on that as a reason for the collapse.
They're not willing to hear it.
"There's no excuses," Olivieri said. "I'd say tonight's our only one free pass for a learning point, but we've got to come back out tomorrow, do the exact same thing but bury the team."