You know the drill. I gave the insider just last time here on Chatterbox that I like to really let a game sink in before plunging into it if it was a game where emotions would take from objectively analyzing the game that was. No matter how long I waited after last night’s 2-1 loss. No matter how many late night stops at the Keurig machine I made. There wasn’t any escaping the fact that “NO GOAL” will become one of those sporting moments that will set me off no matter when I hear it.
I feel what you will hear Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason say from his post-game interview last night sums it up best. He spoke in regards to the idea that in junior hockey plays such as the one that happened last night can be reviewed yet in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs you can’t. It doesn’t make sense.
To me, I really wish I could stress the human element of what the referees don’t have that we do have: instant replay. Yes, the officiating crew 100% blew it last night. Yes, they got together and came up with that decisive call. But it’s done in the moment, one look, first take, make a decision. The fact that a situation such as last night’s “NO GOAL” is an unreviewable play is an even bigger issue that the officials blowing the call on the ice. Because it only took the main replay angle from the jumbotron feed to show that, not only was there was zero contact made on Tom McCollum, no one was more than two feet from him in net. It’s inexcusable, embarrassing, and brainless for the AHL to have zero ability or try-to in making a play such as that unreviewable. If the Green Bay Packers had to be the victims of the “Fail Mary” to get the replacement referees out of the NFL then let the Admirals be the dead duck for the AHL to actually get uncomfortable and make something change to their own replay rules when moments such as “NO GOAL” are met with, “Well, I did all that I can do.”
Is it the officials fault last night that the Admirals lost? No. The Admirals still didn’t do enough offensively to make more of an impact against the Griffins. Yet, the game ends in such a way that there is a one-goal difference with that difference drawing all eyes back to a moment of lunacy. What happened was, thanks not to the officials, but the way the AHL is setup, is create a forever moment of, “What if?” Because, what if the Admirals go into the locker room at second intermission down 2-1 and then Vladislav Kamenev scores that power-play goal? What happens now that it’s a 2-2 game? What if there was overtime? What if the Admirals actually scored on that power-play that started the third period with them buzzing now that they have all the momentum in the world because it was a GOOD GOAL? What if? What if? What if?
So, if you really want to point fingers, I’d say take them and aim them directly at the AHL. The officials are human beings that make mistakes like the rest of us. Sometimes they’re put in a spotlight that magnifies the human element of sport – such was the case last night. They shouldn’t have needed extra security around the visiting locker room tunnel as they left the ice last night. They shouldn’t have needed to walk the long way around the underbelly of the BMO Harris Bradley Center to exit the building. No, they should have just been able to watch the replay and make the correct call. That option isn’t there for them and the fault as to why they don’t is on the league’s lap this morning. Why don’t they? Because not every AHL arena has the capacity for multiple cameras? Because they’re too cheap to make sure the game is conducted as a high level professional hockey league? Because they don’t care? There is zero excuse as to why or how “NO GOAL” is allowed to stand. Zero. It’s an embarrassment of riches and it’s all down to the way the league is structured. Not the officials who were on the ice last night.
~The Road Back to Milwaukee~
Part of why even more tension and emotion was placed on last night’s game was the sheer magnitude of what Game Two meant to the Admirals. They were already in a 1-0 series hole and were looking down the barrel of needing to survive at least a game in Grand Rapids, a place where they haven’t won all season, should they have even won Game Two. They didn’t. And now they need to win both games in Grand Rapids just to see Game Five in Milwaukee.
When was the last time the Admirals won two straight games in Grand Rapids? You have to go back thirteen-games to find a time when they actually managed to win three straight games in Grand Rapids: 11/25/12, 4/12/13, and 10/18/13.
When was the last time the Admirals scored more than two-goals in a Calder Cup Playoff game? You have to go back fourteen-games ago to a 5-4 (OT) win at home against the Houston Aeros on 5/8/11. The Admirals record in the playoffs since that specific win has been 1-12 including losing their last seven straight playoff games.
When was the last time the Admirals overcame a 2-0 series deficit to win a playoff series? Never. It has never happened in the franchise’s entire playoff history which consists of thirty-three previous playoff appearances.
What is the Admirals record in elimination games in the AHL era of the team? The Admirals are 9-11 in elimination games. They have lost their last four consecutive elimination games and last won an elimination game, there’s that date and game again again, on 5/8/11 at home against the Houston Aeros. The last time the Admirals won two consecutive elimination games came during the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs with a win on the road against the Chicago Wolves (4/21/10) and then at home (4/23/10) before losing in Game Seven. They did the exact same feat the year prior in 2009 against the Aeros: 5/9/09 and 5/11/09 The best the Admirals ever fared in playoff history in elimination mode came in the opening round of the 2004 Calder Cup Playoffs when they won the last two games of the series against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks after having trailed 3-2 in that series – the Admirals wouldn’t face elimination again and would win their first and, to this point, only Calder Cup Trophy. The Admirals must one up that effort and win the next three.
So, the Admirals are up against it now. They probably felt that way last night. But there is something very much to be said about pushing certain teams or individuals into a corner. Make no mistake about it, when the Admirals play on Tuesday night in Grand Rapids, you’re going to see the absolute best of what the Admirals have to offer. It’s make or break moment from a team and, to some, an individual level. Win or go home. Simple as that.
After the game I had the chance to speak with the Milwaukee Admirals head coach who, as I alluded to above, had summed up last night’s controversial call very well. I also spoke with Max Görtz, Juuse Saros, and the man who made his surprising -and quite impressive- professional playing debut last night Yakov Trenin. Here are the sounds from around the rink last night.
Comments from the comments? Why do you feel the AHL doesn’t allow for video replay for goaltender interference and will that change next season thanks to last night’s game? Are these Milwaukee Admirals, who have now lost their last four-games, capable of pulling two wins from the hat in Grand Rapids to return back to the BMO Harris Bradley Center next Saturday for Game Five?
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