Ads Collapse In Third; lose 4-3 in shootout

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)
Austin Watson set a career high for goals in a season tonight. Sadly it came in a crushing shootout loss. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Admirals lost 4-3 in a shootout against the San Antonio Rampage Wednesday night. Despite a solid opening two periods of hockey for the Admirals the Rampage overcame a 3-0 deficit in the third period to force overtime before winning tonight via the shootout to extend their winning streak to six-games. The Admirals streak is now a losing variety of three.

“When things happen negatively like they do, and like it has, it’s hard to catch the momentum swing flying the other way,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We did a lot of good things for two periods and once we get a little negative it just keeps snowballing.”

Austin Watson put the Admirals on the board in the first period and, by doing so, set a new career high for goals scored in a season with his twenty-third. Joe Pendenza attempted a wrap-around shot that pushed the puck out in front of Rampage netminder Michael Houser. Watson was able to find and pop in the loose puck to establish a new career high and make it a 1-0 game.

The Admirals power-play drought was nearly snapped within five seconds of their first chance of the night. It was the newest Admiral Gary Steffes who put a wrister into the net but the goal was disallowed because Triston Grant was in the crease. The veteran Admiral was tripped by Jonathan Racine en route to his net front drive. The play around him developed so fast that I doubt Grant new a thing about the Steffes shot and goal. The play was reviewed and waved off for Grant’s presence in the crease.

The first period would still see the Admirals claim a second goal. After absorbing some pressure defensively, the Admirals were able to break out of their zone and beat the Rampage on the rush with Pendenza’s ninth goal of the season. Watson started the play in his own defensive zone and teed up Pontus Åberg through neutral. The Swede delivered a no-look pass square to Pendenza in stride who swooped in down the left wing and beat Houser five hole from a quick wrister to make it a 2-0 Admirals lead. It was the first time the Admirals had scored twice in the first period since 2/15/15 against the Lake Erie Monsters.

“I actually wasn’t sure that [Åberg] saw me there as I was coming up the wing,” said Pendenza. “I was kind of anticipating him maybe dumping it or shooting it. He’s one hell of a passer so I’ll take it.”

In the second period the Admirals third goal of the night gave Houser the hook sign from the Rampage bench to end his night in net. Johan Alm from the left wing corner was able to pick out Colton Sissons who cranked a wicked wrister past Houser for his twenty-second goal of the season. Houser stopped 14/17 shots on goal before giving way to Sam Brittain in net. It was the first time all month that Houser wasn’t between the pipes for San Antonio.

Marek Mazanec’s shutout bid was denied early in the third period after a howitzer of a one-timed shot by Rocco Grimaldi beat him high blocker side. Former Admiral Greg Zanon migrated from the point down behind the net before delivering the primary assist for Grimaldi. It was his twelfth goal of the season.

Just before the halfway point of the third period the Rampage reduced the Admirals lead to one goal. Dany Heatley was camped in front of Mazanec and buried a puck that trickled out from behind the net. It was a quick and easy tap-in finish for Heatley’s seventh goal in the AHL this season.

It took less than three minutes before the Rampage would score yet again and tie the game up at 3-3. Quinton Howden delivered a drop pass for Blake Parlett as the two crossed paths with the defenseman stepping up from the blueline. Parlett beat Mazanec to the near post for his eighth goal of the season. It looked as if Mazanec never expected that shot to go blocker side. And the Admirals lost a 3-0 lead in 8:32 of ice time in the third period.

“We did a great job for like forty-three minutes and then we just fell asleep,” said Marek Mazanec. “Hockey game is sixty minutes and we need to play all sixty minutes.”

The best opportunity from overtime came with Eric Robinson nearly scoring his first career goal as a pro. He had blitzed down the slot looking for a backdoor feed. The pass hit him on the tape and the shot alluded Brittain but hit the right post and out.

The shootout would end after three rounds with the Rampage scoring twice on Mazanec. Grimaldi was the first shooter to take an attempt and he swooped left, came right, and hit crossbar and down for a goal. Next up was Åberg and Brittain stopped him with a glove save. Heatley and Sissons both attempted five hole shots and both were denied. Lastly, with a chance to win it, was Logan Shaw who buried a puck past the blocker of Mazanec to end the shootout and finish the Rampage comeback bid with a win.

Ramblings: Ahead of Wednesday night’s Admirals game the Nashville Predators had recalled Kevin Fiala on emergency basis Tuesday afternoon. He made his NHL debut last night in the Predators 3-2 (OT) win. Fiala logged 11:25 of ice time, had three shots on goal, and was a -1 player in his first career NHL game. In addition to the Fiala news yesterday the Admirals signed forward Gary Steffes to a PTO contract from the Allen Americans of the ECHL. He played tonight for his first AHL contest since 2/17/13 as a member of the Lake Erie Monsters. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were Felix Girard (upper body) and Jonathan Diaby (healthy). The Admirals power-play drought has now reached 0/38 over its last ten games.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? What happened in the third period? Where did the Admirals attention to details go? Can the Admirals rebound this weekend against the Chicago Wolves or could they find themselves out of the playoff picture by Sunday?

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6 thoughts on “Ads Collapse In Third; lose 4-3 in shootout”

  1. Maz said it well, the team fell asleep in the third. It’s entirely possible that if the team doesn’t return to its form of October/November we may be looking at an early off season.
    The teams that will go deep in the playoffs are the teams that are gelling well and winning now.
    If the team wants to go deep in the playoffs it needs to turn things around and right the ship.
    This weekend will pose an interesting test as the Wolves are one of the teams chasing Milwaukee.

  2. The Admirals defense broke down on the first goal. Maz had no chance to stop it. The second goal was a bad bounce, but not the best defense again. The third goal was all on Maz. The puck beat him on the short (stick) side. Maz could have moved to his left. He could have used his paddle to stop the puck. He could have used his leg pad. The opening looked to be 9 inches or less, but he didn’t close it. His stick looked turned, which means that the paddle was shrunken down instead of at full width like it would be if he was squared up to the shooter. He had a problem with a high shot in the overtime and juggled it. I am beginning to think that Maz has a vision problem, perhaps an astigmatism. He can’t seem to stop any shots at the edges of the goal; left, right or high.

    My wife doesn’t understand why Evason keeps playing Mazenec. She thinks that Hellberg is underused and ineffective if he plays one game out of 4 or 5. I began to think this way about a month ago; now we both do. Evason never used his time out during the third period. He probably should have called a TO after the second goal or the third goal or after the icing with 3:30 remaining in regulation. He stands on the bench looking semi-comatose. I think that he needs to go and that Stan Drulia should take over if the team is going to make the playoffs. Milwaukee has gone from the #2 seed to the #7 seed, and that is looking shaky.

    I watched Ford in the third period. He seemed like he was all over the ice trying to chase down the puck in the Admirals defensive zone. He didn’t get much help from Bitetto. Piskula and Alm looked good, Oligny and Aronson looked steady. Milwaukee had bad passing in the third period. Part was caused by the D-men, part was caused by the forwards turning away or being too far forward, part was caused by the SA forechecking. I thought that Rampage outskated Milwaukee in the third period and the overtime. The 2-1 shot ratio seems to confirm my observation. Milwaukee played poorly along the boards and in the neutral zone, especially in the third period. Maybe they were tired. Maybe they were demoralized by the San Antonio goals. Evason should have used his time out to give them a rest and encourage them. He did neither and Milwaukee lost the game.

  3. Evason might not decide 1) starting goalie 2) lines or 3) pp units. Call for Fenton’s head if you seriously want change.

  4. On the positive side, I thought Steffes was great. He played well and I hope they keep him on the roster. I’d rather see him log some ice time over Budish or Gaudreau, at least for a short time to see if he really can compete and remain consistent at the AHL level.

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