I would have to rate last night’s first period as one of the more entertaining periods of hockey I’ve watched all season. That doesn’t mean it was the best or most sound hockey played this season. Quite the opposite actually for both teams. It was a car crash. It was a multi-car pileup of a period of hockey. Oddly, that frantic period would pretty much be the entire three period game condensed into itself in the opening twenty-minutes. The person who saw the following two periods of hockey being defensively structured was clearly just being sarcastic or a smart-bottom.
What mattered the most from all of last night’s game was the timeout taken by the Milwaukee Admirals. After conceding a pair of poor goals due to mental lapses in their own zone the team burned their timeout 4:04 into the game. If the scoreline of 2-0 that early against the Iowa Wild wasn’t a wake up call – the timeout and a less than upset head coach Dean Evason probably us going to get your attention. And it did.
It took the Admirals forty-seconds from the timeout to notch their first goal thanks to some gritty net front work by Max Görtz. That started a chain effect of overwhelming speed and precision by the Admirals that had the Wild turned inside out. Adam Payerl blew past veteran defenseman Maxime Fortunus to score a shorthanded goal that tied things up. Cody Bass whipped a shot in front the far left wing wall to provide the Admirals with a lead after having trailed by two-goals. And, just for good measure, the teenagers connected on a home run pass, Vladislav Kamenev to Kevin Fiala, that pushed the game to its eventual 4-2 final.
I don’t often like saying things such as I’m about to but, off of last night, it’s just true. The Admirals started last night’s game not taking the Wild seriously. They were caught out with a little extra flair in the skill and passing department and didn’t generate the opening shifts to dictate dominance like they should have. Often these last few seasons, for as bad as their record suggests, the Wild still battle the Admirals extremely hard and hard enough to steal valuable points away that could impact playoff standing. That same Wild team turned up with a simplistic approach of North-South last night and generated two poor turnovers because of it that led to goals. The Admirals bench calling for a timeout that early in a game, at that scoreline in a game, to a team ranked second from the bottom in the entire AHL, was a slap in the face to the players and rightfully so. It had to be done. And, thankfully, it had the desired effect. To that I point your attention away from the events that followed the timeout and more directly at the second and third periods. It was precise, clean, simple, and effective hockey that kept the Wild in-check. The second period wasn’t the greatest, being outshot 10-3, but the finish was done in a way that spoke more about what to expect from the Admirals when they play today more than anything. They had a lead and they shut the door. Today, they want to repeat just that.
After the game I had the chance to speak with Evason as well as Payerl, Görtz, and Bass. This is what they had to say following last night’s win.
Comments on the comments? Is there any concern that the Admirals once again have another slow start today or was last night’s game a solid reminder of being prepared to play smart once the puck drops?
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