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?