I must confess, when the Grand Rapids Griffins took the lead in the third period I felt as if that was it. The combination of Petr Mrázek and Teemu Pulkkinen had done it again. And, for all the good work that was done, the Admirals were going to fall yet again to the white hot Griffins.
As you’ll hear, I wasn’t alone in that line of thinking. Dean Evason had started to walk off the Admirals bench with the seconds winding down in regulation assuming that things were over. Triston Grant had also started making the move down the bench towards the locker room.
Then something happened. Kevin Fiala happened. With 15.3 seconds remaining the puck wasn’t even in the attacking zone. The Griffins had cleared the puck to neutral ice. Taylor Aronson quickly threw the puck ahead to Fiala who caught and whirled a pass back ahead for Viktor Arvidsson to break into the zone. 10.8 seconds remaining. Arvidsson’s rush ahead is stalled by Nathan Paetsch. He passes all the way across towards the on-rushing Fiala back at the right point who quickly one-times a shot towards the net. The rebound off Mrázek kicked back to Fiala who one touch passed back to the point for Joe Piskula who teed up a one-timer for Arvidsson. No dice.
And then with 1.3 seconds remaining, with people moving towards the locker room and time effectively done as far as scoring chances should be concerned, it happens. Fiala hammers a shot pass square to the stick tape of Viktor Stålberg. The pass flew past a slide attempt of Kevin Porter and, from how it appears on the replay, a goaltender that just as well assumed there was no chance there would be a goal scored from where Fiala was firing from and firing to with 1.3 seconds remaining. There was. And the Admirals polished that opportunity off with 0.4 seconds to spare.
By the time the ice had been properly dry scraped and people had calmed down as best they could for the overtime period it had already been done. The Griffins were rocked just as hard, if not harder, than the Admirals were two weeks prior. Colton Sissons won the opening faceoff in overtime. Anthony Bitetto stalled as Piskula and Stålberg got in motion. Bitetto to Piskula. Piskula bank pass off the wall for Stålberg. The Swede raced ahead and battled for body positioning with Nick Jensen. Stålberg’s drive and drive alone on net put that puck past a flustered Mrázek. There was no real shot taken from Stålberg on the hat trick goal. It was simply working hard to the net and that pucked hobbled on through to the back of the net. 0:15.4 seconds of ice time between a regulation loss and an overtime win against the AHL’s hottest team right now.
After the game I did catch up with Evason. I also managed to grab the heroic duo of Fiala and Stålberg. Plus, we’ve not heard from Johan Alm in ages so I brought him into the Chatterbox for good measure. Here is what they had to say following the Admirals 3-2 (OT) win over the Griffins.
Dean Evason’s reaction to the overtime win against Grand Rapids:
Evason on the game-tying goal:
Evason on leaving the bench moments before the game was tied up:
Evason speaks about the Admirals fast start:
Evason on how they attacked Mrázek in net:
Evason talks about the defense getting healthier:
Evason updates the condition of Mike Liambas:
Evason on taking care of home ice with a heavy road trip looming:
Kevin Fiala on the game-tying goal:
Fiala on his effort on the game-tying goal:
Fiala’s thoughts on the comeback result for the Admirals:
Viktor Stålberg’s reaction to the game-tying goal:
Stålberg on whether or not he knew there was enough time left when he scored:
Stålberg’s thoughts on going from a regulation loss to OT win so quickly:
Stålberg breaks down his game-winning goal scored in OT:
Stålberg talks about building momentum off the win:
Johan Alm on missing out on the first half of the Admirals season:
Alm’s thoughts on joining the team for the playoff push:
Comments from the comments? Will this game prove to be a launch pad for the month of March? Hidden in yesterday’s game, what did you think of Marek Mazanec‘s performance in net?