(Photo credit to Scott Paulus)
The Admirals lost 4-3 against the Chicago Wolves Friday night. Another slow start meant the team had to climb out of yet another 2-0 deficit in the first period at home. While it happened twice against the Texas Stars during the opening homestand – it couldn’t be done tonight. The Wolves went on to win their fourth-straight game on the road.
“Our starts have been pretty good as of late, but we didn’t like our entire game from the drop of the puck,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Regardless of where we were when it got 2-0 we didn’t do anything to be involved and give ourselves a chance to even score a goal.”
This game started off with that little element of chippiness you come to expect from an Amtrak Rivalry game. After Anthony Bitetto decided to play the man and not the puck, Cody Beach of the Wolves skated over and talked up a fight. Bitetto passed on the opportunity but Tousignant decided he would have a go. They wound up calling matching roughing calls between Beach-Tousignant but tagged Beach with an additional for his antics with Bitetto.
The Wolves turned that Admiral power-play into a shorthanded goal. After Bitetto made a great sliding effort to block a shot, Nathan Longpre stuck to the play and banked the puck off of Chris Porter and past Magnus Hellberg in net.
After another successful Wolves penalty kill they beat Hellberg again. This goal came right off of the kill with Dmitrij Jaskin managing to slide the puck underneath the big Swede in net and make it a 2-0 hockey game.
“You have those games sometimes where you come out a little flat,” commented Taylor Beck. “They hopped on us early and they did a good job. They came to play. We have to be a lot more sharper with our passing and with our detail. They took advantage of our mistakes early and we couldn’t catch up to them.”
Captain Scott Ford answered back with his first goal of the season and first as an Admiral since March 16, 2012 in Lake Erie. Ford ripped a shot from the point and into traffic. The puck took a deflection off of a Wolves stick and even clanked off the far post before finding twine.
Just over five minutes later the Wolves restored their two-goal lead. The Admiral defensively were spread thin in front of Hellberg. Prior to the series of passes that would net the goal, Bitetto took a stick to the back of his knee and tripped right in front of the Ads goal. There wasn’t a call for tripping, but the move lead to some open ice for the Wolves who played a tic-tac-toe game between Shane Harper-Tyler Shattock-Pat Cannone. The passing was crisp. The shot by Cannone wasn’t going to be denied. 3-1 Wolves.
One thing worthy of mention: boarding penalties. This game saw four of them. The worst of which came at the tail end of the first period when Miikka Salomaki blasted Sergey Andronov into the boards directly in front of the Admirals bench. Andronov stayed down and hunched over for quite awhile before heading behind the Wolves bench. He did manage to return to the game… hockey players, right?
There weren’t many highlights in the second period. Save for this one. After losing the draw on a power-play faceoff, Tyler Shattock attempted to get the puck as clear as he could. His problem: Scott Valentine… who checked him hard enough to pry open the Admirals penalty box door. The hit was so violent that play had to be stopped temporarily after an off-ice official could be treated after the door swung open and clipped him in the penalty box.
Much more action occurred in the third period and started with the Ads narrowing the Wolves lead to 3-2. The Admirals power-play responded with a beautiful pass from Colton Sissons that teed up Taylor Beck for his fourth goal of the season. Considering how eventful this past week has been for Beck the goal showed some good poise and maturity on his part dealing with the ying-yang effect these past few days.
“It was a quick week up [in Nashville],” said Beck. “Happy to be back. Happy to hopefully help [the Admirals] start winning again. It’s been a little bit rough lately but we have a good team here and we’ll be really good down the stretch.”
With 2:13 remaining following an offsides call that kept the puck in the Wolves defensive zone, the Ads used their timeout and decided to pull Hellberg in favor of using the extra attacker. There were some looks to the net, but the game was effectively capped off when Corey Locke popped in an empty netter with 1:01 remaining in the game.
“We wanted to give ourselves the best and the longest opportunity,” said Evason of the decision to pull Hellberg during the timeout. “Normally you’re going to pull the goalie at 1:40-ish. Some coaches, 1:30. We like the two minute mark. Why not give ourselves the chance to have some sustained pressure? We want to side on the side of being aggressive and giving our group an opportunity to score.”
Credit to the Ads, though. The “never say die” attitude still showed up with a Tousignant goal with 25 seconds remaining. A sharp pass from the corner by Joonas Rask picked out the Quebec native who made a slick move to beat Allen in net. While nothing more than a late consolation goal in a defeat – it’s still nice to see the team refuse to quit on a game.
“We knew that [the Wolves] are a veteran hockey club,” said Evason. “[The Wolves] come to play. They know how to play the game and they out-competed us. We don’t say that very often about our group.”
Thoughts on the game? What is it about these slow starts for the Ads? How do you feel Taylor Beck played in his return to Milwaukee? What players are standing out to you – both in a good way and a bad way? What will the response be tomorrow night in Iowa?