The Admirals lost 4-2 against the Abbotsford Heat Friday night. It was a solid effort for the Ads through two periods but the Heat stuck around to haunt them in the third to take the win.
“We continually shoot ourselves in the foot,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We’re not happy with obviously our situation here.”
The Abbotsford Heat were able to score an opener in the first minute of the game. A puck in the slot, played by Ben Street, fumbled on towards Sven Baertschi on the right wing side of the cage. He had no one around him by the net – and essentially scored on an empty net for his fifth goal of the season on the Heat’s first shot.
It didn’t take the Admirals long to find an answer goal. After a hard drive to the net by Colton Sissons, Vinny Saponari cradled the rebound, spun, fired, and the puck flew past Olivier Roy. It was the tenth goal of the season for Saponari.
There have been some flat offensive efforts for the Admirals in recent games. It wasn’t the problem in the first period. Despite that opening goal, the Admirals really controlled the period and outshot the Western Conference’s top team 20-8 in the period.
We also had a fight in the closing seconds of the first period between Mike Liambas and Carter Bancks. This fight happened after a huge hit by Liambas on defenseman John Ramage in the corner on the forecheck. There were some good punches landed by Liambas. Bancks was able to tug Liambas to the ice for the take down. For a quick bout – I’d call that one even.
In the second period the Admirals were able to claim the lead after a fantastic play from Taylor Beck. The 22-year old winger skated in one-on-one with defenseman Shane O’Brien. He skated right in on him, deked to the right towards the slot, used O’Brien as a screen, and fired a wrist shot hard over the glove of Roy. It was Beck’s twelfth goal of the season.
The Admirals lost their brief lead midway through the second period after Ben Street’s twenty-first goal of the season. The Heat, just earning a power-play for a questionable too many men on the ice call, broke into the zone with a two-on-zero rush led by Street. He took it all the way in on Scott Darling, flipped a backhander, and his shot hit off the cross back and down. Once that puck was in the crease it rolled back towards Darling’s right leg and he slid it into his own net.
Abbotsford was able to break the deadlock past the halfway marker of the third period in a goal very similar to their opener. Max Reinhart was able to allude Charles-Olivier Roussel and get to Darling’s doorstep with space around him. He took a pass from Markus Granlund and scored to the blocker side of Darling for his thirteenth goal of the season.
That goal would be the game-winner for the Heat – who added an empty netter from distance by Brett Olson for good measure with 0.8 seconds left on the clock. The Admirals have now lost four-straight home games.
“I think right now we’re beating ourselves,” said Anthony Bitetto. “I think we’re better than most teams. It says on the board every day playoff hockey. It’s the little things that are going to make us a playoff team and hopefully go far in the end.”
Ramblings: Scott Ford missed tonight’s game with an upper body injury. In his absence Bryan Rodney wore a third “A” patch for the Admirals alongside fellow alternate captains Mark Van Guilder and Joe Piskula.