by Ted Stephens
In the topsy turvy world of the Admirals’ extended road trips, the boys travelled up the road for a showdown with the Chinook League leading Bentley Generals last Friday.
In their last meeting, inexperienced defense and a lapse in play during the second period allowed the Generals to take a 7-2 victory.
Since that time the Admirals have been slowly putting new players in place and the rookies have started to come together adding much needed offence. On the down side, two key defenseman were still out with suspensions and the bench was short up front. Not exactly perfect but 15 of the right guys is all it takes.
At the drop of the puck, the Generals tried to push the Admirals into their own end and were successful for the first couple of minutes. Then the Admirals came to life and were soon doing some pushing of their own.
A misplayed puck allowed Bentley’s Joe Vandermeer and Sean Roberston to assist Curtis Austring in putting the Generals up 1-0 at 16:06.
The goal inspired the Admirals, who battled back hard and played with a sense of urgency. Solid back checking and crisp passes created a dividend barely two minutes later. At 13:59 Brendan Baumgartner finished off the hard work and clean passing of Brandon Knelsen and Paul Mailey to tie the game.
With 14 seconds to go, a missed clearing attempt by the Admirals allowed Bentley to retake the lead — Eric Schneider from Chris Neiszner and Dustin Moore. Generals 2-1 after the first and shots 18-10 Bentley.
The tempo for the second period remained at a high pace and Bentley again led on the shot clock. Andy Williams, playing in only his second game for the Admirals, stood up to solid shooting, keeping the high scoring Generals off the score clock.
At 11:34 the Admirals tenacious forechecking once again found Baumgartner being fed the perfect pass from Knelsen and Mailey.
A minute later the Admirals were assessed two minutes for hooking. As the penalty ended, Bentley still had the pressure on and before the penalized player could get into the play, Travis Brigley from Eric Schneider and Jason Lundmark made it 3-2 Bentley, just 4 seconds after the Admirals penalty had expired.
One more time the Admirals surged back. This time Jeff Young led the charge and pushed deep into the offensive zone. A quick look by Young saw Tyler Moir drifting in unprotected from the blue line, a perfect set up pass, a one timer by Moir and the red light was flashing, Admirals tied 3-3.
That was all for Bentley goaltender Trevor Koenig and Travis Yonkman took over between the pipes. At the end of the second it was tied 3-3 with Bentley holding the edge in the period’s shots 17-7.
The final frame saw Bentley skating hard and pressing the Admirals. Bad turnovers and sloppy passing allowed Bentley to maintain the heat that led to the Generals scoring twice. First at 16:28 Keenan Desmet from Travis Dunstall and just over two minutes later Travis Brigley was left alone in the slot, assists going to Don Morrison and Dustin Moore.
The battle continued as the Admirals never backed down. This time it was Jeff Young finishing off the hard work of Aaron Boyer and Tyler Moir adding one for the Admirals.
Bentley replied quickly at 7:35 Curtis Austring from Chris Neiszner and Sean Robertson, giving the Generals back the two goal cushion, 6-4.
If you left the game then you missed some great hockey. The Admirals were buzzing, out hustling the Generals to the puck and pressing hard. With just over a minute left, Admirals’ goaltender Andy Williams was pulled in favour of the extra attacker, but the Generals were equal to the task leaving no room for the Admirals’ snipers to get the equalizers. The game ended 6-4 Bentley with final shots 50-24.
“Our defense played well,” said Coach Jason Stephens. “Considering we only had 3 D men and pressed a forward into service, the boys gave it their best against a strong opponent.
“We’ve come a long ways and our new guys up front are starting to get the feel for one another so positive things are happening. We still have players arriving that should fill in our back end and combined with expired suspensions, we should be stronger.”
Sylvan Lake Admirals are on the road until the New Year but you can catch them in Innisfail Friday night or back in Bentley Sunday.