These teams met just 11 days ago and tonight’s game started off very similar. The big difference however, was the finish. The first period was dominated by the Admirals, but they unfortunately stayed in the locker room for the third period, allowing the Rivermen to score 3 unanswered goals and eventually win in the shootout Wednesday night at the Bradley Center.
So heading on down to the post-game press conference with coach Lambert, the $64,000 question was whether he would be short-answer-mad or long-answer-mad.
It was the latter.
With both teams down a man it was the Admirals that were able to light the lamp first at the 5:16 mark. It was a great break out by Admirals’ Gabriel Bourque and Chris Mueller with just one Riverman between them. Bourque was the man crashing with the puck in the slot when he dished the rock over to Mueller, who was on the other side of the slot. Mueller received the pass and quickly fired on net to beat Rivermen goaltender Ben Bishop for his 14th goal on the year. This was one of those plays that would make the coach smile as it was performed just as it was drawn up with great execution.
Just over the half way mark of the first period the Admirals extended their lead on the power play (POWER PLAY????) with a great redirect by Ryan Thang. A fast moving Linus Klasen fed the puck up the far boards to 2-time back-2-back AHL player of the week Blake Geoffrion, who quickly sent the puck across ice to a compressing Roman Josi, who was positioned just inside the near circle. Josi fired the shot through a crowd where Thang got just enough on to redirect it away from Bishop’s glove and in for the second goal. The goal was pretty impressive as I think it hit all 3 pipes clipping the top shelf netting on its way though. I think Mike Massey would have been proud with the movement on that goal.
It would appear that the Admirals went to eBay or Amazon and bought themselves a power play, probably using the buy-it-now feature because at the 11:03 mark of the second period they were able to convert on for the second time with the man advantage. Jon Blum was the point man with the puck and dumped it down to the near side circle to Klasen. Linus gathered the puck and skated up to draw the slot defender to him, and then fed a pass between the defender’s legs to Josi, who was at the bottom of the far circle. He put a one-timer on net, beating Bishop for the third goal of the game. This was yet another example of Klasen drawing attention from defenders, causing them to commit and leave their position, and his ability to get the puck to the open man it creates.
The Rivermen, refusing to lie down like in the last meeting, produced a flurry of goals to start the third period. Just 1:10 into the final frame, the Rivermen ruined Mark Dekanich’s shutout with a nifty redirect right to the top shelf. Jake Gannon sent a pass/shot that stayed on the ice towards the net, and the screening Derek Peltier tilted his blade back and let the pass go straight to the top twine for the Rivermen’s first goal of the night. It may have also went off of Chris Mueller.
Shortly thereafter it was the Admirals turn to answer as they went on the power play. There was a score. Unfortunately, it was the Rivermen that got the short-handed tally. With the Admirals in the offensive zone they sent the puck around the boards where Aaron Johnson was unable to pinch the puck and let it by him. T.J. Hensick took the loose puck in his own defensive zone and was off to the races with Josi closing in. Josi went to the ice to block the passing lane but Hensick had no intention of passing and instead put the shot on net beating Dex for their second goal in 2:20. We had a hockey game again.
The Rivermen completed the comeback with just less than two minutes to go in the game. In true Admirals fashion, Blake Geoffrion sent a puck straight over the glass from his own goal line and went to the bin for “Yonking”. It took the Rivermen a whopping NINE SECONDS to convert with another goal by Hensick. T.J shot it through traffic and beat Dex to get the 3rd unanswered goal for Peoria.
Unable to convert in overtime with the man advantage, the Admirals were forced into a shoot out. Only three people scored in the shootout, with two of them being Rivermen. Chris Porter had the winner in the bottom of the 6th round.
In summation: The Admirals continue to look for that complete game and struggle in the most inopportune time. This game had the feel that it was nowhere near over going into the third period and if any team shouldn’t have their back turned to them it is the Rivermen.
Questions for discussion:
Was this the worst collapse you’ve seen in awhile? What’s the worst collapse you recall?
Benn Olson. Big guy. Didn’t see much of him in the 3rd period. Do you think he’s a liability without his gloves on the ice, or is it too early to tell?
Were you just hoping that Ryan would slip and call Blake’s late game penalty “Two minutes for Yonking?” I was. And Ryan, seriously…..how could you not slip in a “Mountain Fury Power Play” line in there? Fury the fury already!
Feel free to tell us how you REALLY feel about this game.
Oh, and as we’re typing this, the zamboni is scraping off the paint from the face-off circles. This is going to take awhile.