The Orlando SeaWolves are on the road this weekend. It's probably a good time to get out of town based on how they played in a home stand over last weekend.
The team dropped a pair of games, starting Friday with a 6-2 loss to the South Central Division leading Milwaukee Wave (14-3). Saturday, in a game befitting a budding rivalry between two local clubs, the SeaWolves were dug into an early 4-0 hole, nearly dug their way out and finally lost 7-5 to the Florida Tropics.
Sitting at 6-8 and fourth in the division, and watching any momentum gained from the team's prior 3-2 road trip, the team plays at Milwaukee today at 2 p.m. after playing in Kansas City Friday night.
Against the Wave, Milwaukee scored twice early and, despite two goals from Gordy Gurson, the SeaWolves couldn't ever dig out of that early hole either.
“We certainly put ourselves in bad situations and anytime you do that against a team like Milwaukee and you go down and try and chase the game, it’s not the place you want to be in any game, but especially against a team like Milwaukee,” Traxler said after that game.
"I can't find any positives (from the weekend). There are learning opportunities, but if you ask the players they'd say the same thing. There's things we've talked about getting on the same page about our starts ... but the time for talk is over."
The start was worse against the lowly Tropics (5-12), who scored twice in the first two minutes of the game and led 4-0 after Matt Clare scored at the 12:30 mark. The SeaWolves then flipped a switch and began playing, sending a pair of open crosses over the net at the end of the first quarter, then Lewis Neal found newly-acquired defender Derek Huffman, who scored 31 seconds into the second quarter. Richard Schmermund then scored eight minutes later on a 4-on-4 opportunity, but any momentum gained went away when Antonio Manfut scored twice in the next four minutes to make it a 6-2 game.
But it really became a game in the third quarter. Gurson scored his third of the weekend five minutes in when Florida goalie Hugo Silva couldn't clear a crossing pass, then in the next two minutes Jonathan Mendoza pounded home a rebound and Elmo Neto scored on the power play to make it 6-5.
Then the game turned chippy and gained an energy that made it into a true rivalry game. Huffman, with the support of some teammates, said a Tropics player head-butted him, for which the player would receive a red card and the SeaWolves a five-minute power play. When the Tropics objected, the game got chippy, yappy and physical.
"I 100 percent agree with him," Traxler said. "To me it was pretty clear, I'd like the league to go back and look at it. I think the replay will show that."
Gurson only said, "Could've been a red card, could have not been," about the red card.
"If we go up a man for five minutes the result is different, but they didn't call it and it's part of the game," he said.
The physicality ended up hurting Orlando, as back-to-back SeaWolves blue cards gave Florida a 5-on-3 man advantage it took advantage when Maycon Franca scored with 12:50 left in the match. Orlando couldn't find answering goals.
"We started the game absolutely poorly, down 4-0 you spend all game chasing the game, and you can't do that," Traxler said. "While we were able to get ourselves back into the game, then we shoot ourselves in the foot with silly blue cards, and the players know it. You aspire to make the playoffs, we've worked hard to get there but we can't allow what happened (Saturday). The lack of discipline has to be addressed, and fixed.
"We had plenty of opportunities tonight and it was an opportunity we blew. We were physically good enough to get the job done and we didn't."
Gurson said the locker room is working to reach the postseason.
"We've been training together since Nov. 1, we're here to win and make the playoffs," he said.
The SeaWolves return home on Friday the 15th. The opponent? The Tropics.
"It's definitely a rivalry now," Gurson said.