by Ted Stephens – Special to Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake Admirals roared out of the harbour and had a tough time staying afloat.
Last Friday the home opener against the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs looked more like a shooting gallery than a hockey game. It took just 50 seconds for the Chiefs to draw first blood taking advantage of the weak defensive effort that left Admirals’ goaltender Jordan Ramstead hung out to dry.
The Admirals responded four minutes later on a power play when Paul Mailey put home a rebound served up by Brandon Knelesen and Brandon Baumgartner. All three are new to the Admirals roster.
The Chiefs kept the pressure on and poor puck movement, combined with unnecessary turnovers, allowed the Chiefs to hold the edge. They struck again with 1:42 to go and followed that with a third goal a minute later.
The second period saw the Admirals serving a penalty from the first and a quick goal 58 seconds in gave the Chiefs a three goal cushion.
The Admirals were in a tailspin and things just got worse. More turnovers and bad decisions allowed the Chiefs to score twice more before Ramstead was mercifully pulled in place of Scott Galenza. That seemed to right the ship for a moment and Paul Mailey put home his second of the night with an assist going to Luke Boyer.
Admirals penalty trouble then started and the Chiefs took full advantage of poor coverage, scoring twice before the period was done — both goals on the power play.
You might think the Admirals would just drift off into the sunset but the third was the best effort from all concerned. The Chiefs were dominated for the first five minutes and action was end-to-end with decent chances for both teams and the goaltenders stopping everything thrown.
As luck would have it, the Chiefs got a break first and scored their ninth goal of the game with 6:04 remaining.
The Admirals pushed back and on a power play Colin Zimmer slid home the goal with helpers from Reed Watts and Kurtis Ross. Under two minutes later Brandon Baumgartner took a feed from Paul Mailey and the final goal of the game was scored.
Final tally 9-4 for Fort Saskatchewan. Admirals player of the game was Paul Mailey.
“Too many players gave a poor effort.” said Coach Jason Stephens, after the game. “We can’t fault the goaltenders when they have no support and we can’t expect last year’s record to mean a thing if we don’t give it 110 per cent every shift.
“This year every team in the league has gotten better and our players had better step up if they expect to win,” continued Stephens. “We definitely have some things to work on in practice and an effort like tonight will not cut it. The third period showed what we could do when everyone settled down and just did their job but that needs to start from the drop of the puck, not from seven goals down.”
Next home game for the Admirals is tomorrow (Friday) at 8:30 p.m. in the multiplex when the Innisfail Eagles will be in town.