When I made the trek down to Rockford for the first time yesterday things started by me discovering that the quickest route there was to go North… to go South. That essentially set the tone for the proceedings that followed because the Milwaukee Admirals 5-2 defeat to the Rockford IceHogs was a head spinner that all seemingly boiled down to the opening ten-minutes of the second period.
The Admirals had a 1-0 lead through the first period thanks to Vladislav Kamenev echoing the glory days of the Russian space program by unleashing a rocket on the power-play. Inside of the opening thirty-seconds of the second period an Adam Payerl shot was awkwardly dealt with in net by Michael Leighton and his left-side defenseman Viktor Svedberg palmed the puck in the crease to award the Admirals with a penalty shot.
Kevin Fiala was the man pegged with doing the honors. You couldn’t have asked for a better candidate to have been on the ice for the Admirals. Fiala has been tasked with opening for the Admirals in the shootout all but once from the team’s seven shootouts this season. The only man to start ahead of Fiala in the shootout was Stevie Moses, who missed, and was followed by Fiala who scored. Fiala is 5/7 in the shootout this season. Him being given the penalty shot should have nearly been automatic.
That’s where things all went downhill for the Admirals and just never really recovered. Fiala was stopped by Leighton with a blocker save from Fiala’s crafty shootout attempt move, the one he has used all season to perfection, and the IceHogs gained serious momentum off of that moment in the game and proceeded to run the Admirals for three-goals in the space of 4:49 of the second period. By the third period the run for the IceHogs would continue and they’d have four unanswered goals.
What you have from last night’s game is simply a bad taste in your mouth knowing how differently that game could have played out had Fiala scored on the penalty shot to give the Admirals a lightning fast 2-0 lead to start the second period. That didn’t happen. Credit must be given to Leighton for his denial on the penalty shot attempt by Fiala. It was a big moment in the game and really whoever came up trumps on that penalty shot was due to give their team a massive boost. It went the way of the IceHogs. The Admirals couldn’t get their game stabilized or comfortable after that.
Going into last night’s game the eyes were set on an Admirals regulation with to put them into sole possession of first place of the Central Division. After losing? They actually stand in third place behind the Grand Rapids Griffins. It’s crunch time for everyone this time of the season and I feel as if the Admirals enduring a game such as last night before getting some days to process it will be a good thing for them. The Admirals have a three-in-three weekend on the horizon and that’s plenty of points up for grabs to account for the two that went begging last night in Rockford. First, the Iowa Wild at home on Friday. Second, the Chicago Wolves in Rosemont on Saturday. Third, the Wild once again but this time in Iowa to finish the weekend off. Those are favorable teams for the Admirals to get ground back. Against the Wild and Wolves this season the Admirals are 11-3-1-0. …weights and balances… weights and balances…
After last night’s game I did get a chance to catch up with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Frédérick Gaudreau to get their take on the game. I was joined by Mario Tirabassi, who also joined in the trip down to Rockford, to ask them both questions. Here is what they had to say:
Comments on the comments? Gaudreau stated that it was “just one of those game” for the Admirals. Would you be willing to write it off due to Leighton’s effort in net or did the Admirals get lost in their own heads a bit after the penalty shot?
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