The Admirals won 3-2 in overtime against the Chicago Wolves Friday night. It is the third time this season that the Admirals have experienced the three-on-three AHL overtime format. And, just like the first time around, ended with an OT victory over the Amtrak Rivals. Pontus Aberg secured the win with his fifth goal of the season.
“I freakin’ hate it,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason on the AHL’s overtime format. “It’s so nerve-racking. I guess it’s exciting. I guess it’s fun. As soon as a guy gets a tad bit tired you’re in trouble. Or at least Stan [Drulia] and I are in trouble because we’re scared to death that something is going to happen.”
Despite Brent Sopel clanking a shot off the post in the opening minute of play. It took the Chicago Wolves 7:19 of ice time before registering their first shot on goal. It wasn’t until 16:11 into the first period until their second shot. The Admirals defense was relentless in closing down passing and shooting lanes. They even resorted to some 1-3-1 neutral zone trap to disrupt Chicago’s breakouts.
Austin Watson put the Admirals puck possession to good use by scoring his sixth goal of the season. The Ads were cycling the offensive zone hard and Mark Van Guilder put together a quality shift behind Matt Climie’s net. Even more quality was the pass that Van Guilder dished up for Watson’s goal. He raced from behind the left wing side of the net, spun off a no look backhander in front of Climie, and right to the tape of Watson on the opposite post for a slam dunk of a goal.
The Wolves came into tonight’s game as the best second period team in the AHL. They had outscored their opponents 25-10 in the middle frame for a league best +15 goal differential. Despite outshooting the Admirals 12-8 in tonight’s second period. It was more of the same in the goal scoring department.
Viktor Arvidsson’s howitzer slap shot made it a 2-0 game late in the second period on an Admiral power-play. The passing cycled from the right wing (Brendan Leipsic) to the point (Taylor Aronson) and on over to the sweet spot of Arvidsson on the left wing circle. His one-timer smoked past Climie for his sixth goal of the season and fourth scored on the power-play.
It’s also worth highlighting a bit of wackiness from the second period. Before Aronson delivered the set-up to Arvidsson on the power-play goal. He served up a solid check to Colin Fraser in open ice. Aronson was instantly jumped by Yannick Veilleux. Instead of fighting majors the officials called them roughing minors. That would make sense given how the tangled mess of Aronson and Veilleux were once gloves dropped. What is odd to me is that there wasn’t an instigator given to Veilleux despite his actions clearly being just that. He received an unsportsmanlike instead.
The Wolves ended Magnus Hellberg’s shutout bid in the third period from a power-play. Philip McRae’s shot from the right point rifled off the post and traveled to his opposite point for Petteri Lindbohm. The follow up chance was also belted off a post but, this time, it was crossbar, down, and in to cut the Admirals lead to 2-1. It is Lindbohm’s fourth goal of the season.
Odd man rushes really started cropping up for the Admirals with the Wolves fighting for an equalizer. Leipsic had a breakaway that he pushed wide left of Climie. Then Frederick Gaudreau had a clean breakaway that saw his backhander to that same left side get shoved off. The Ads even had a three-on-two develop with Colton Sissons but his wingers drew him offsides.
These missed opportunities made the following sting. After a relentless, shift after shift, attack for the Wolves – Brent Regner equalized. The shot from the point was simple enough but the traffic down the slot made Hellberg’s view of it almost impossible with Jeremy Welsh’s net front screen. Regner’s second goal of the season forced the Admirals into their third overtime game of the year.
“They had a heck of a period,” said Evason of the Wolves third period comeback. “They just kept coming at us. Put pressure on us. When you’re down 2-0 that’s how you’re going to play. You’re going to play desperate. And we bent a bit.”
Yet again, the Admirals found themselves in the midst of the AHL’s three-on-three overtime format. And, just as they did on 10/24/14 in Chicago, they took down their Amtrak Rivals. Hellberg forwarded a puck on to Johan Alm who dinked onto Pontus Aberg. The young Swede raced through neutral ice on the right wing wall, toe dragged, released a shot out of the stickhandle, and beat Climie against the grain to seal the contest in OT.
The goal for Aberg helped out his fellow countryman Hellberg in securing his sixth win from six starts on the season. Hellberg stopped 27/29 shots on goal tonight. It was the first time all season that he allowed more than one-goal.
Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were Jonathan Diaby (healthy), Joe Pendenza (healthy), and Patrick Cehlin (hip). Magnus Hellberg made his third-consecutive start tonight for the Milwaukee Admirals. It is the first time since 11/19/13-11/20/13-11/22/13 that he has made three-consecutive starts for the Admirals.
Thoughts from tonight’s game? What happened to the Admirals in the third period? What are your opinions of the AHL’s new overtime format so far and would you like to see it get adopted by the NHL?