Too Little Too Late, Ads fall 5-4 in Texas

The Admirals lost 5-4 against the Texas Stars Saturday night. Once again, the Stars had a lethal second period effort that proved to power them on to victory. The Ads did managed to claw back into this game. After trailing 5-1, the Ads scrapped out three late third period goals to nearly make for a stunning comeback. Though, time ran out on the late push for the Ads who go on to drop their second straight game in regulation.

“We gave up five goals,” said assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “Most of them were from transition situations where we had puck possession and [the Stars] do a good job of that. We ran out of time at the end, but it’s a sixty-minute game and we didn’t push hard enough at the start.”

As far as roster shake ups ahead of this game went, it was nothing as drastic as the days ahead of this weekend with call ups and call downs. Instead, Scott Valentine stepped into the forward role to fill in for the injured Mike Liambas. This opened up a spot on defense for Charles-Oliver Roussel to return to the lineup. Still no word on how long Liambas will be out. For now, expect a roster similar to what the Ads dished up tonight.

The Texas Stars opened the scoring this go-round. Taylor Peters fired a shot off of Darling and the loose puck was hammered into the net by Francis Wathier.

Just seconds after an Admiral power-play expired, the team kept the gas on and came away with an equalizing goal. The initial shot by Filip Forsberg was stopped by Stars goaltender Allen York. It was then spilled out into the path of Austin Watson who popped in the rebound for his third goal of the season.

A big opportunity came for the Ads at 16:59 of the opening period. After some rough stuff behind the play, both marked as interference calls, the Ads received a full two minutes worth of five-on-three power-play time. There were too many passes taking place on the power-play and just not enough pucks to the net as you would want with that much space to attack. In the end, the opportunity went without a goal as the pesky Stars penalty kill escaped without damage.

The previous night Texas produced twenty shots in the second period. Tonight? They did it again. The Stars outshot the Ads 20-11 in the second. Of those twenty shots three went past Darling.

“We were fairly happy with our first period,” said Drulia on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “In the second period we turned the puck over twice at their blue line. Took an offensive zone penalty which lead to their power-play goal. Three situations that we were well in control of that ended up going into the back of our net.”

Texas restored their lead after Curtis McKenzie slipped the puck underneath a poke check of Darling. The shot squeaked between his legs and the Ads trailed 2-1.

The next goal for Texas came off of a power-play opportunity after a Mathieu Tousignant roughing call. A Kevin Connauton blast from the blueline was deflected by Mike Hedden to push the Stars lead to 3-1.

Late in the second, the Stars produced their third unanswered goal of the period. Jamie Oleksiak slapped in a bomb from the faceoff dot making it a 4-1 Stars lead.

Magnus Hellberg started the final period in net. Not quite by anyone’s choice. Scott Darling had an equipment issue at the beginning of the third period, went off the ice to fix it, Hellberg went in the net, and Darling never returned to the game. As it turns out, Darling’s skate broke just as the team went back out on the ice… tough break for a first career AHL start.

The Stars incredible penalty kill unit was at it again tonight by scoring another shorthanded goal. Ex-Admiral Chris Mueller generated an Ads turnover from the blue line and sent Toby Peterson loose on a breakaway. He went the distance and finished off the shorthanded break with a backhanded finish through Hellberg’s five-hole.

Then came the drama. The Ads were trailing 5-1 with 7:18 remaining in the game.

Off of the same power-play that cost the Ads a shorty, Zach Budish answered the call. Budish was at the goal mouth and kept plugging away at the puck for a goal to end the Stars run of four unanswered goals scored.

The Ads then answered with another goal to make it a 5-3 game. Simon Moser kicked the puck with his skate out to Filip Forsberg who picked out the eventual goal scorer, Colton Sissons. That’s Sissons fifth goal of the season.

Hellberg then went to the bench to bring out an extra attacker for the Admirals. With forty-one seconds remaining they scored with the extra attacker on the ice to make it a 5-4 hockey game. The pace and effort of the Ads right out of the goal from Sissons shook the Stars. This goal was scored by Anthony Bitetto for his team-best sixth goal of the season.

Milwaukee managed to have a few more cracks at tying the game up. In the end, there just wasn’t enough time on the clock for them to draw back level with the Stars. It ended 5-4. The loss in net actually end up being credited to Magnus Hellberg who played the third period but conceded the game-winning goal… ouch.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? The late response by the team? What do you think can help the Admirals start games quickly and more effectively? Can it be corrected in time for their game in San Antonio tomorrow afternoon?

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