The Admirals lost the season opener in overtime 3-2 on the road against the Abbotsford Heat Friday night. Penalties were the big story of the contest. The two combined for thirteen penalties. The game-winner for the Heat just so happened to come come off of one of those penalties in OT by forward Corban Knight to put a damper on the Ads first game of the season.
“I felt we got ourselves into trouble in the second period,” said assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “We tried to make too many plays through the middle of the ice. We know [the Abbotsford Heat] like to carve things up. [The Heat] do a real good job in the neutral zone. We got too cute in some of those areas and they were able to generate some opportunities due to that.”
The first period of the season went scoreless but saw the Ads fail to convert on three power-play chances. Slashing. Boarding. Hooking. None produced a goal and the Heat penalty kill improved to a 10-13 kill rate to that point.
The best chances of the opening frame went the way of the Heat. After serving his boarding penalty, the puck found Mark Cundari breaking from the box and his spinning back hand pass was nearly cashed in on the rush to the net. Moments later the Heat nearly capitalized on a mishap behind the net by Magnus Hellberg. Fortunately Hellberg bailed himself out on the play by making a big save and relieving the temporary pressure in his net.
Milwaukee’s breakthrough came shorthanded in the second period. The Ads went on their second penalty-kill of the night after Miikka Salomaki was called for boarding. A solid puck pursuit by Austin Watson set up Patrick Cehlin who netted the opening goal. It was Cehlin’s first career shorty.
[Cehlin] always gives you a great effort,” said Drulia. “If we’re going to have success this year we’re going to need [Cehlin] to provide a lot of offense for us.”
With 4.6 left in the second period the Heat managed to equalize through Turner Elson’s first professional goal. A frenzy in the Heat’s offensive zone lead to a missed poke check by Hellberg that resulted in the equalizer for Elson.
Penalty killing was a major factor in this game. The Admirals managed to endure a lengthy 5-on-3 kill midway through the third period, but the impact of that opportunity charged the Heat’s attack. While they couldn’t solve the Ads penalty kill, the Heat took the lead through a Ben Hanowski goal with just over seven minutes left in the game. Persistence paid off.
However, Taylor Beck wouldn’t allow that Heat advantage stand for long. Beck was Johnny on the spot after work from Anthony Bitetto and Colton Sissons put him open for his first goal of the season. Fun Fact: the assist for Sissons goes down as his first professional point.
The game would go to OT and, as was the story of the game, another penalty put the Ads shorthanded. This time the Heat were able to cash in on the man-advantage after centerman Knight lifted a shot over a sliding Joe Piskula and past Hellberg to win it for the Heat.
First outing of the season was a tight one against a scrappy team. Unfortunately some rust may have shown through at points of this game leading to an OT loss. Still, the Ads pick up a tough earned point on their 2013-14 season opener. The rematch between these two takes place in no less than 24 hours later in the same barn.