by Ted Stephens
Sylvan Lake Admirals waged battle on the road with three games in three days ending with a 1-2 record on the weekend.
Visiting the Innisfail Eagles on Friday, the first period saw action going both directions, with neither side having an edge. Although the Eagles took three penalties, the Admirals’ power play just didn’t get on track, leaving the golden opportunity for a quick lead squandered. Neither team scored in the first period and shots on net were 12-11 Innisfail.
The second period was a complete shift with the Admirals taking control early and dominating play. A goal at 14:51 by Brandon Knelesen from Brendan Baumgartner made it 1-0 Admirals, but Innisfail was quick to respond at 12:25, tying the game. Hard forechecking by Brendan Baumgartner caused a turnover and Bomber made it 2-1 at 11:32.
Missed passes, poor effort and a lack of commitment by the Admirals soon had Innisfail buzzing the net, scoring three quick goals in the last four and a half minutes of the frame, taking a 4-2 lead and outshooting the Admirals 21-14.
In the third, Innisfail took full advantage of the Admirals’ lack of on-ice organization, scoring three times to finish the game with a 7-2 win in front of their hometown crowd.
A good night’s rest and a heated coach’s inspirational talk had the boys back on track Saturday night against Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs.
Solid passes, finishing a check and clearing the zone led to the first goal at 11:51 with Brendan Baumgartner finishing the play from Brandon Knelsen. The pressure was maintained and the Chiefs new goaltender was tested from every angle. At 2:25 the Admirals struck again with new team Captain Cody Esposito putting it home from the hard work of Aaron Boyer and Jeff Young. The period ended with the Admirals leading 2-0 and outshooting the Chiefs 17-11.
The second period started quickly and strangely when Brendan Baumgartner, just 31 seconds into the period, took a high hard shot that ended up bouncing off the top of the net, hitting the Chiefs’ goaltender in the back and rolling in. Pressing on a power play, the Admirals D over committed and Kyle Pess was sprung loose for the Chiefs making it 3-1. Near the end of the second period, on the power play, Turner Lachance leaned into a one timer that picked top corner, just inside the post, assists to Brandon Knelsen and Brendan Baumgartner. Admirals led at the end of the second 4-1 having outshot the Chiefs 25-14.
In the third period, the Admirals took their foot off the gas a little and the Chiefs found new life. Although the Admirals scored a power play goal at 11:59 — Aaron Boyer from Cody Esposito and Derek Pess — the puck bounced the Chiefs way for the balance of the game. At 9:40 the Chiefs scored, then added two late goals to end the game at 5-4 Admirals. Final shots on net 57-42 Admirals.
Sunday was a tough day on the Admirals as only 13 skaters dressed, with just three of them being regular D men. The full Bentley Generals roster was held off the board in the first period, but so were the Admirals. Andy Williams in net for the Admirals was more than solid and at the other end Travis Yonkman was having one of his top games of the season.
The second period saw the flood gates open as the Admirals’ tired bodies made simple errors that turned the puck over in their own end, giving the Generals’ shooters far too many easy chances. The Bentley troops scored four times in the second before the Admirals got on the board, with just 58 seconds remaining. Cody Esposito from Turner Lachance made it 4-1.
The third period saw the Admirals rally and at 10:47 Brandon Knelsen from Brendan Baumgartner made it 4-2. The Generals’ Kyle Sheen was the lone forechecker and received an early Christmas gift alone in the zone with no Admiral in sight. 5-2 Bentley with 8:13 to go. The Generals scored again at 2:24 to complete a 6-2 win over a tired Admirals crew.
“We had a tough schedule this weekend and we tried to get one of the games moved but the other teams we played refused to move a game so we just went with it and did the best we could”, said Coach Jason Stephens. “The boys battled hard this weekend but I wasn’t happy about the break down on Friday night. We need to compete for 60 minutes every game in this league or the end result is going to be exactly what it was and we register the loss.”