After a tough game on their own ice Friday night, the Grand Rapids Griffins scored the first three goals tonight including a pair on the power play, as they handed the Admirals their first regulation defeat of the season. The Admirals’ third period comeback fell short, as they lost 5-3.
While it’s disappointing to walk away with the first regulation loss, Coach Muller says the guys will have a short memory.
Atte Engren surrendered 5 goals on 29 shots, but Coach Muller isn’t putting the loss on his shoulders alone.
The Griffins struck first with a power play goal. With three Admirals within a stick’s reach of Chris Conner, Conner lifted a centering pass to Jamie Johnson who was all alone crashing the net. Johnson deflected it out of the air and past Atte Engren. It wasn’t played with a high stick….it was a good play. Just a little surprised he was so wide open.
Willie Coetzee scored an even strength goal about three and a half minutes later. Connor made a quick pass from the other side of the slot to Coetzee. With Engren moving laterally, Coetzee was able to find enough room for it to get by Engren.
In the 2nd period, Connor got a goal of his own to go along with his two assists. On a power play, and after a Ryan Thang shorthanded chance was foiled, Connor took a drop-pass from Mitch Callahan at the high slot, and his rifle beat Engren up high.
Juuso Puustinen got one back for the Admirals later in the period. Kyle Wilson had a shot from a bad angle on the near side, and the rebound kicked to Puustinen in the slot. There was some traffic in front of Joey MacDonald, and Puustinen’s shot somehow squeaked through.
Tomas Tatar made it a 4-1 lead four minutes into the third period with one of the easiest goals he will ever score. A shot from Joakim Andersson was stopped by Engren, and he looked as though he thought he was sitting on it. He wasn’t. The puck was sitting on the goal line next to him. Tatar’s stick won the race to the puck, and tapped it in the net.
Ryan Ellis answered about two minutes later with his first goal of the year. Jani Lajunen slipped a pass to him just below the top of the far circle, and his shot beat MacDonald.
19 seconds later, Ryan Flynn fed a fantastic pass that Taylor Beck received at that blue line, and his shot from the far circle also beat MacDonald.
So it’s a 4-3 game here, the Admirals had all the momentum with 13:41 left to go in the third. Less than a minute later, Ryan Ellis takes a tripping penalty. Momentum KILLER.
The Admirals were able to kill the penalty off, but as the period went on, they started taking some more chances. Both Taylor Aronson and Scott Valentine were caught up ice when Andersson sprung Gustav Nyquist on a breakaway, which he converted.
Somewhat of a taste of their own medicine for the Admirals. Speedy forwards who were able to make the most of their opportunities.
It’s not that the Admirals didn’t have opportunities. But a little puck luck here, a goaltender in the zone there….and it made for a frustrating night for the offense.
Bourque – Mueller – Puustinen
Wilson – Lajunen – Thang
Flynn – Van Guilder – Beck
Champagne – Latta – Stortini
They were sufficiently shuffled by the 2nd half of the second period.
– This was the first time this season the Admirals had faced a deficit larger than one goal.
– Special teams not so special. Another goose egg on the power play (o-4 officially…but one of them was a 6 second power play at the end of the third period). And two scores against the PK.
– Josi update….still monitoring…still day-to-day. I’d upload the quote from the coach, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard before.
DISCUSSION: Great to see Ellis get his first goal…but did you like his game? Seems to be holding on to the puck for too long at times. Do you think Smitty would have fared better tonight? Did you like Beck’s game? Do you think he’s developing into the power forward that the coaches want him to? Thoughts on the Aronson/Valentine pairing?