The Admirals hosted the Peoria Rivermen for the final of three games in three days. This was the second game between the two clubs in the three game stretch, but this game saw the same result as the first one did; in an Admiral loss.
The Admirals started the day missing key pieces of the offense, as Chris Mueller, Jonathan Blum, and Ryan Ellis were sent down to Nashville to participate in the Predators training camp. By game time, Mike Moore was also scratched from the lineup; he is currently waiting to pass waiver as his AHL contract was voided by the end of the NHL lockout. His absence meant that there was no Admiral player on the roster with NHL experience, facing a club with four players that has seen NHL ice time.
The lack of experience didn’t hurt the Admirals, as Taylor Beck stepped up when it mattered most. Down 2-1 with 9 minutes left to play, Beck received a cross ice pass from Michael Latta. Beck reared back and ripped a shot under the glove of goaltender Mike McKenna to tie the game at 2.
After the rest of the 3rd and an overtime session, the game came down to a shootout. Peoria scored on their first and fourth attempt, while Milwaukee failed to score at all, and Peoria left Milwaukee with two points.
Even though the lack of experience didn’t show up on the scoreboard, it can still be felt on special teams. Since the exodus of players to the NHL, the Admirals are 0-for-17 on the power play. Coach Dean Evason plans to make that a focal point during practices as the team prepares to face the Abbotsford Heat.
Meanwhile, the penalty kill was one of the bright spots in the game. The Admirals had to kill six penalties on the night, and only the first resulted in a goal. Derek Nesbitt, the Rivermen’s second leading scorer, was sitting on the back door. Nesbitt received a cross ice pass through the slot from Adam Cracknell, and buried it.
Cracknell added his own goal on the night, deflecting a shot from Brent Regner past Jeremy Smith.
The other goal from the Admirals came in an interesting fashion. On the first shot of the game, Ben Ryan rifled a shot from the left face-off dot, and it clinked off the crossbar. Fans thought the puck crossed the goal line, but referee Kevin Kaval adamantly waved it off. At the first whistle, Kaval went to the scorer’s booth to review the shot, and after a short conference, awarded Ryan his first goal of the season.
If losing the NHL players wasn’t enough, during the second period, Joonas Jarvinen took a puck to the face. He dropped to the ice, and when he got up, you could see the blood on his face. He went to the hospital to get stitched up. The Admirals played the entire 3rd period down with two defensemen gone, which changed some of what the offense did late in the game.
The Admirals will get a well deserved rest to start off the week, and will be back at practice on Tuesday to prepare for the Heat. The Admirals were outshot for the tenth straight game, so the offense and power play should be the point of emphasis of those practices. The Heat are 2nd in penalty killing, so they will prove to be a big test for the Ads. The Admirals are sitting at 10th in the conference, and need to start getting ready for the playoff push. A couple of wins against 9th place Abbotsford would be huge.
Here was the post game interview with Coach Evason.
And these are thoughts on the game from Taylor Beck and Ben Ryan.
– With all of the NHL players gone, who will step up and take their place? Beck? Latta? Someone else?
– Austin Watson played a vital role in the penalty kill, as he had numerous shots blocked. Too bad they don’t keep that as an official stat.
– Michael Latta found a home in front of the net for the first period. His big body makes him hard to move and he can screen the goalie. If he continues it, he could get a few garbage goals.
– Admirals were taking shots from a lot of different angles before simplifying as the game wore on. Crashing the net could be the key to fixing the power play.