The Admirals lost 3-2 in Rosemont against the Chicago Wolves Sunday afternoon. A lightning strike by the Wolves in the third period, scoring two goals in twenty-eight seconds, proved to be the kicker today. Ads goals by Vinny Saponari and Colton Sissons weren’t enough – as the Admirals officially lose the Amtrak Rivalry series this season to the Wolves.
“That’s the way these games have gone against this team,” said Milwaukee Admirals assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “It’s been a break, or a bounce, or something for one of us to get that extra goal.”
Despite the Admirals being outshot mightily in the first period, 13-3, they were the ones to score first. Vinny Saponari made a great play skating in from the left wing and hard to the net to beat AHL All Star netminder Jake Allen over the left shoulder for his ninth goal of the season.
There were plenty of penalties exchanged in this game and, for the first time all season against the Admirals, the Wolves were able to bite on the power-play. Michael Davies spun away from Scott Ford, moved in towards Marek Mazanec from the far faceoff circle, centered a shot to the goal mouth and it found a way in. It’s Davies fourth goal of the season. That was the Wolves first power-play goal from thirty-two chances against the Ads this season.
In the third period things got out of hand fast and it all starts with a blunder from Mazanec. It’s been rare at times to look at Mazanec and think “he’s a rookie” but this was perhaps his first real big rookie mistake as an Admiral. With the puck behind his net, he skated in around the cage and tried to play the puck out in front of the net. The error from Mazanec went right to Cody Beach who scored easily for his second goal of the season.
“Obviously it hurts,” said Drulia. “You’re in a 1-1 game. [Marek Mazanec] plays the puck so well. Beach gets fortunate enough to knock it out of the air but we could have got back to [Mazanec] a little bit quicker to give him a little bit more time with the puck.”
The trend of conceding quick goals continued again tonight. The past two games goals were scored within a minute of an Admirals goal. Tonight the Ads conceded back-to-back goals to the Wolves in the space of twenty-eight seconds. After a short set up from Davies – Jani Hakanpaa banged in a one-timed rocket to make it a 3-1 game. It was Hakanpaa’s third goal of the season. It was also the end of Mazanec’s night in net as he was pulled for Hannu Toivonen after conceding his third goal from twenty shots.
After the goalie-swap, the Admirals had a quick goal of their own. Colton Sissons whistled a knuckle puck past Allen for his nineteenth goal of the season only twenty-nine seconds after the Wolves had scored. It was yet again a one-goal Admirals against the Wolves hockey game.
The Ads emptied their net with 1:07 remaining in regulation. In the closing seconds of the game they had two near chances to equalize and force overtime. Taylor Beck had a shot that hit the side of the net. Austin Watson rang one off of the crossbar. The Wolves were able to survive the final second threat and win by the final of 3-2… all Amtrak Rivalry games this season, and there have now been eighth of them, have been decided by one-goal.
Ramblings: This was the Milwaukee Admirals fifth three-in-three scenario of the season. They have yet to win the final leg of the three-in-three this season, 0-2-2-1. Anthony Bitetto, who was the lone scratch yesterday, was a late addition to today’s starting roster and took the place of Zach Budish. By doing so, the team dressed seven defensemen – something they’ve been doing a fair bit this season. Mike Liambas celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday today (send your well-wishes here, @mliambas).
Thoughts from this game? What do we all make of the recent string of performances for Marek Mazanec? Is it safe to assume Scott Darling will return to the Admirals and start this Friday? The offense was again rather well tamed throughout this game – what needs to change to spark some quality scoring chances for the team?