“It’s heartbreaking. You work so hard all year long and put it all on the line….game 7…..words can’t describe how bad you feel. I hate losing. I can’t believe it’s over.”
That’s a dejected Jeremy Smith after the Admirals fell short in game 7 of their playoff series with the Houston Aeros.
After some good chances in the offensive zone, Casey Wellman led a 2-on-1 rush, and beat Smitty with an NHL caliber shot with 1:21 left in the 3rd period, giving the Aeros the game-winning goal in a 4-2 victory Tuesday night.
Coach Lambert seconds that emotion.
“Total dejection is what I’m feeling, and the guys fought hard all series. That’s part of playoff hockey. There’s only one team that can win, and when you don’t, it hurts.”
The Nashville bump was there, as Matt Halischuk and Blake Geoffrion figured into both Admiral goals, along with Gabriel Bourque. But the late rush by Wellman took the wind out of the sails of the Admirals and everyone in the building.
With less than two minutes to go in the 3rd period the Admirals were attacking the offensive zone. They had about three great chances with the puck bouncing all over the place, inches from lighting the lamp. The Admirals were playing up trying to get the game winner when the puck was sent out to Wellman, who was then off to the races with the 2-on-1 rush. Roman Josi gave chase along the near boards, blocked the passing lane and got a little piece of Wellman as he fired the shot on net. Smith was out to play the shot but missed it as it rang home to the top right of the cage.
“It was a fast break, 2-on-1,” Smitty said. “Pretty much the same thing happened two shifts before that. I thought I had the save, and he made a good shot. Beat me clean. That’s my shot – I got to make that save. You got to give credit where credit is due, so I just got to learn from it.”
Transcribing those words doesn’t begin to illustrate the glumness in Smitty’s voice. Sounded like we just told him Christmas has been cancelled, and replaced with a second Arbor Day.
Coach Lambert says it was a mistake to allow that rush.
“We had three or four good chances before they were able the break away from us. We got a little eager, we gave up a 2-on-1 and that just can’t happen. “
The Admirals were the first to score in game 7 and it was a pair of the newly reassigned Admirals that were in on the score. Blake Geoffrion passed the puck to Matt Halischuk down low and then attempted a wrap around. The attempt bounced off Matt Hackett’s pads and right to a crashing Gabriel Bourque, who scored top shelf at the 8:02 mark in the first.
I’ll take momentum shifts for 300 Alex. With just 12 seconds left in the first period the Aeros’ Colton Gillies stuffed home a rebound to knot the game at 1 aside. With a shot from the point, the puck found its way through traffic and on Jeremy Smith. It was a nice save but Smith couldn’t track down the rebound from his back, and with the loose puck in the paint it easily found a home on the other side of the goal line.
Ok, now I’ll take goals I’d like to have back for 1000. With Smith coming out of the net to play a puck behind the net, he mishandled a rotten bounce. He took a couple more desperate stabs at it but had to leave it behind for the Aeros’ Carson McMillan, who gathered the puck and was able to get a quick shot in on the empty net as Smith couldn’t get back in time. That gave the Aeros their first lead of the game.
The Admirals would answer back at the 8:26 mark while on the Mountain Fury Power Play. Geoffrion sent a puck down low to Bourque on the near side, who then sent a pass to Halischuk in the slot. Halischuk quickly sent the puck past Hackett to bring the match all square.
And then Wellman put the nail in the coffin, followed by an empty net goal from Warren Peters, who twisted the nail in the coffin while laughing and singing “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow…..”*
*Do you need me to tell you that the last part didn’t happen? Didn’t think so.
Good game. Can’t blame the officials. Great crowd, especially with the Brewers in town. Exciting finish. It’s what you want a game 7 to be. Only thing I’d change would be the final score. And the second Aeros goal. I’d change that too.
We’ll close this with one more quote from Smitty, and then open up the post for your thoughts and comments on the game and the campaign.
“There’s no tomorrow now. Your season is over. There’s nothing…. You look forward to training this summer, but nobody….. Winning championships is fun. That’s what you work so hard for. And to be let down, and let your teammates down it’s just a terrible feeling and not one I want to have again.”
Smitty, I think I speak for all of us when I say that you were marvelous this season, and unworldly in this post-season. Hang in there, bud, and we’ll see you next year.