Aberdeen Lynx head coach Owen Reynolds couldn’t hide his frustration the team were left empty-handed after their loss to Paisley Pirates.
The fifth-placed Lynx were beaten 5-2 in the Granite City by the side directly above them in the Scottish National League (SNL).
It was a tighter affair than the scoreline suggests with the first period ending 1-0 and the second 3-1 to the visitors.
However, the Lynx never felt out of it and, after pulling the score back to 3-2 to whip the Linx Ice Arena into a frenzy, a series of penalty calls prevented a comeback and left them under the cosh.
Reynolds said: “As far as games go, they don’t get more frustrating than that and I definitely feel we deserved something from the match.
“All the key moments hinged on penalties which I felt were at times unjust and the calls were certainly not going our way.
“Paisley Pirates have a well-earned reputation for being hard working and organised, so it was always going to be a battle and at times scrappy.
“I couldn’t fault our own efforts though, and Jack Durkacz epitomised that with his goal to keep our hopes alive going into the third period.
“Even at 3-1 down with only the final period remaining, we kept on pushing and had the belief we could get back into it.
“For a moment it looked like we had regained the momentum when Jon Hogan found the net, but unfortunately we found ourselves back on the penalty kill, when arguably we should have been on the power play for an infraction on our netminder Craig Chalmers.
“That was enough for the Pirates to take the wind out our sails with another power play goal, but realistically the scoreline didn’t reflect either the game or our effort.
“I’m actually proud of our team and how they battled right until the end regardless, in what could have been a potentially excellent game of hockey.”
Reynolds’ Lynx now have three regular SNL matches left ahead of the season-ending play-offs and remain in a decent position, despite looking unlikely to present a league challenge.
However, with the top three to play, a scalp in one of those outings would strengthen Aberdeen’s hand for the play-offs and bolster their confidence for a Scottish Cup campaign which is still alive.
Up next is a tough meeting away to Murrayfield Racers – who beat title rivals Dundee Comets 8-4 at the weekend, as well as drawing 3-3 with Kirkcaldy Kestrels, another of the league’s high-flyers.
The Racers have played 11 matches and are perhaps favourites for the league – although the Lynx could harm those aspirations.
Reynolds said: “All we can do is keep working hard knowing it’s only going to get tougher, starting with Murrayfield Racers away this Sunday.
“I don’t think we were ever league title candidates given the strength of some of the top teams, but I still believe we’re good enough to cause an upset before the season’s over.”