(Editors Note: The Admirals Roundtable has signed Laura Liebl to an ATO contract for the rest of this season (Author Try-Out). This is her first piece for the Roundtable, and it’s a great effort — and she even managed to throw in references to our made-up sponsors, so I think she’ll fit in around here. She was there in Peoria and saw the game first hand, and she files this report. Thanks Laura! – RBM)
Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present your 2010-2011 regular season Western Conference champs! It sure wasn’t easy, and the team and coaching staff deserve huge accolades for fighting hard all season long.
Coming into last night’s final road game of the season, the Admirals were riding an impressive streak of playing 15 road games without a regulation loss but also a three game losing streak from their latest home swing. The Admirals welcomed yet another new face to the team in Peoria in the form of Ben Ryan (#16), newly signed to an ATO from Notre Dame. With a showdown for the West threatening to go down to the final day of the season, the Admirals hoped to settle the West once and for all Saturday in Peoria…
Jeremy Smith got the start in net while his teammates finally got off to a good start in the first period. The Admirals got the first PP of the game when Peoria’s Akim Aliu went to the box for interference at 5:24. With 19 seconds left on the Mountain Fury Power Play, the Admirals struck first. Brett Pailn blasted a one-timer from the blue line off of a pass from the circle by Cory Conacher. Jake Allen made the initial save but Chris Mueller was on the doorstep to poke the rebound through the 5 hole for his 23rd of the year. 1-0 Admirals.
The power play for both teams would prove to be the story of the game early on. With Conacher in the box for high sticking, the Rivermen wasted no time cashing in. T.J. Hensick sent a long back-handed pass from the half wall that somehow made it’s way through to the right face off dot, where Drazenovic rifled a rocket that beat Smith top shelf glove side. 1-1.
Most coaches will tell you the best way to respond to a goal scored against you is with a goal of your own. On the very next shift the Admirals gained the Rivermen zone. Another one timer from the point, this time by Foss, found it’s way to Allen who again made the save, but left a rebound that was picked up by Ryan Flynn, who backhanded it in for his 6th of the year. 2-1 Admirals. Foss grabbed an assist and kudos to Ben Ryan for earning his first point on that goal by Flynn.
The Mountain Fury Power Play had one last thing to say before the end of the period. Brennan Evans got to sit for boarding Austin Watson, and this time it was the Admirals cashing in quickly on a pretty play. It started with a Ryan Thang pass from the left circle to Mueller on the goal line who then sent it across crease through a sliding defender to Conacher, who beat Allen trying to slide across. The Admirals had to feel pretty good about the first period but it wouldn’t last.
In the second, Peoria started to throw more pucks at Smith while the Admirals just couldn’t get any quality chances going. With Lewis in the box for tripping the Admirals couldn’t clear the zone from the get go and in a play similar to Conacher’s goal, Nicolas Drazenovic shot a cross-crease pass through sliding defenders to a waiting TJ Hensick, who one timed it passed Smith, who had no chance. 41 seconds later, a lost face off from Mueller found it’s way to the right point where Peoria’s Daryl Boyle fired a slap shot through traffic that found it’s way over Smiths glove hand for his first of the year. Smith didn’t seem to see it until the last second. Peoria heavily out shot the Admirals 18-5 in the second period.
Now tied 3-3 the third period saw much of the same from the second. The Admirals continued to be out shot and couldn’t muster much offense of their own. Smith came up with big and timely saves on several occasions, as did the PK who killed off two Peoria power plays to keep it tied.
In the final minute of the period the Admirals were stuck in their own zone. With disaster looming Smith made a huge blocker save to keep the Admirals alive, and then Thang then intercepted a pass from Aliu in the high slot and the Admirals were off to the races with a 2 on 1. Thang had Mueller on the right, but he didn’t need him. Thang’s wrister from the left circle beat Allen through the pads with 6.5 second left.
Notes & Questions
Here were your lines to start the game
Lederer was a healthy scratch. Gabriel Bourque joined the Admirals M*A*S*H unit with a lower body injury that is considered day-to-day.
Do you think Admirals might be able to loosen up a bit now for Sunday’s finale without the elusive point looming over their heads, or do you think they’ll just go through the motions in game 80?
How far do you think the Admirals can ride Jeremy Smith in the playoffs?