The answers, and more importantly the wins, just aren't coming.
One night after seeing a five-goal lead evaporate into an overtime loss to the Birmingham Bulls, the Quad-City Storm dropped a 2-1 game to the Bulls, the team's fifth straight loss.
Mike Davis scored the game-winning goal, firing a shot that leaked past Peter Di Salvo at the 8-minute, 36-second mark of the third period. The win is Birmingham's sixth straight to start the season as the Bulls remain the lone unbeaten team in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
"The effort's there, it's now teaching the little details," head coach Dave Pszenyczny said. "It's not just our team, it's all the teams, every coach I talk to about the little things the guys lost or hadn't been taught yet and we're now dealing with. We're going to get there."
The Storm got a break midway through the third period. Justin Larson rang a shot off the crossbar that was initially ruled a Birmingham goal.
However, after a discussion with the goal judge, the officials ruled the puck didn't cross the line, keeping the Storm within one goal.
However, Quad-City couldn't take advantage of the reprieve.
The Storm had a late power play attempt after Austin Hervey was tripped up on a shorthanded breakaway attempt but couldn't net the equalizer. Mavric Parks — the Bulls' only option after Friday night's starter Charlie Millen was loaned to ECHL's Worcester Railers — made 28 saves on the night.
Peter Di Salvo made 24 saves for the Storm. He was pulled with 54 seconds left for an extra attacker, but the Storm didn't manage a shot in the closing minute.
"Petey held us in there, like he always does," Pszenyczny said. "He's doing his job, same with (goaltender Eric Levine), now we just need to fine-tune things."
The teams played a scoreless first period, which finished with the Storm’s penalty kill playing large in the final 10 minutes.
Ludlow Harris Jr. was given a five-minute major for elbowing, but the Storm killed it off and then killed off a two-minute holding penalty on Hervey to close out the period.
The Storm entered Saturday’s game with the second-ranked penalty kill in the league.
However, Birmingham finally broke through against the Storm’s penalty kill unit as Loren Ulett tipped a shot by Taylor Dickin past Storm goaltender Peter Di Salvo at the 8-minute, 40-second mark of the second period.
The Storm had killed off the nine previous Birmingham power play opportunities on the weekend and finished the two-game series killing off 11 of the Bulls' 12 opportunities.
"It's important to look at all the positives. It's early in the season, obviously we want to get all these points when we can, but I was always taught that there's positives in everything, even if you don't see it right away," defenseman Skyler Smutek said. "We may not know what that is right now but I think at some point it will be pretty clear.
"Usually the teams I've been on that go through a little rough patch get a little closer than some of the guys that are riding high. If we get this out now and we stick together through it, I think it will end up being a positive."
Phil Bronner tied the game at 13:30 in the second period, firing a shot from the slot that beat Birmingham goaltender Mavric Parks, Bronner’s first goal of the season.
The Storm hit the road next week, facing Birmingham again Thursday, then two games against the Pensacola Ice Flyers on Friday and Saturday in Florida.