In sports, it's always a good thing to start off strong.
This is something the Williamsport Outlaws have taken advantage of through their recent surge to second place in the FHL standings.
Williamsport has been dominant in the first period.
Entering Thursday's game, the Outlaws have outscored the opposition 12-3 in the first period during their five-game winning streak. All three of the goals they surrendered came in a game against Danville. And Williamsport matched that total to slide into the first intermission tied at three apiece.
Jeff Winchester has been especially good in the opening period during the stretch. And he continued that production Thursday when he assisted on a first-period goal from Chris Leveille.
The next two periods were all Danbury, however, as the Whalers punished the Outlaws' defense to secure a 6-3 win at Airmen Pond at Bowman Field.
"We were flat," Outlaws coach Chris Firriolo said. "There's really nothing else to say. We were just bad tonight. We played a pretty good first period, though."
Leveille continued Williamsport's (10-1-2-8) first-period success with a short-handed effort to give the Outlaws a 1-0 lead. Leveille also extended his point streak with the goal to six games.
The goal also marked the continuation of Winchester's point streak as he was credited for the assist.
Winchester intercepted a puck just across center ice and found a streaking Leveille for the easy tap-in. Over his last eight games, Winchester has posted five goals and eight assists.
"Things have been going well and when things are going well you get those lucky bounces," Winchester said. "We've kind of been riding that wave."
The catch, though, is finishing the game after dominating the opening period.
Danbury (6-2-2-5) responded with three consecutive goals to start the second period. Ex-Outlaw Paul D'Agostino got things rolling with his third goal in eight games with the Whalers. Tyler Noseworthy and Cody Ayers then scored to give Danbury a 3-1 lead.
"We didn't come to play tonight," Firriolo said. "There are not excuses."
Whitley, who leads the FHL in wins (11), saves (613), games played (18) and minutes (1005:26), stopped a season-high 33 shots on 36 attempts through the first two periods. He somehow managed to keep the Outlaws in the game as Rob Sich added his 20th goal of the season late in the second period. Sich won a face off in Danbury's zone and immediately sent the shot on goal.
Whitley stopped 46 of 52 shots on the night, but after stopping all 13 in the first period, Danbury scored three apiece in the second and third.
"We have to regroup and fix some problems," Firriolo said. "We've been on a roll for a little bit and we just have to get back to playing that kind of hockey."
Sich took advantage of a Nathan Oke pass in the third period to score his league-leading 21st goal of the season. Winchester also got credit for the assist.