by Ted Stephens – Special to Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake Admirals went north Sunday afternoon, hoping to break the 0-3 start to the season with a game against the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs.
This was the Admirals chance to get a handle on the season and move out of the league basement. They started strong, outshooting the Chiefs 6-1 in the first five and a half minutes. Everything was going their way and the Chiefs were being outhustled and outmuscled by a determined Admirals squad.
The trouble started at 14:29 when Brian Pieper was called for tripping and 32 seconds later a bad angle shot found its way over Jordon Ramstead’s shoulder, giving Fort a 1-0 lead on the power play.
Three minutes later a defensive miscue had Fort leading 2-0. The game settled down into a hard hitting affair but the early momentum for the Admirals was gone and Fort was the aggressor.
At 7:24 Branden Knelsen was called for hooking, trying to tie up a Fort player in the slot and this two minute penalty was followed just over a minute later with a weak call against Brandon Baumgartner, giving the Chiefs a 5 on 3. They converted their chance, closing out the first with a 3-0 lead and outshooting the Admirals 24-14.
The Admirals came out hard in the second and you could feel the momentum starting to shift but nothing was bouncing the Admirals’ way. Fort tried to tighten up on defense but the Admirals kept pressing and with 5:27 to go, a break finally came for the boys from Sylvan. The Chiefs ran into penalty trouble, playing two men short and the Admirals were buzzing the net. Nothing happened with the 5 on 3 but just 17 seconds after the Chiefs first penalty expired, Barrett Brook from Tyler Moir, made it 3-1.
Although the Admirals held a slim edge in shots, 13-11, the game remained 3-1 Fort Saskatchewan, at the end of two.
The third period started slowly for the Admirals as they were left killing off 32 seconds of a late second period penalty. After successfully backing the Fort boys off and playing at even strength, Brandon Baumgartner from Tyler Moir and Paul Mailey made it 3-2 at the 17:19 mark.
The momentum was now back in the Admirals’ favour and at the midway point of the third, the boys had nearly closed the gap in shots on net. With 9:15 to go, a solid, clean hit by Derek Pess had caught a smaller Chiefs player hard and Pess was assessed a five minute major for a hit to the head and the automatic game misconduct that comes with it.
Just over three minutes later a second major was assessed to an Admirals player for spearing and the Chiefs now had a 5 on 3 for a minute and thirty eight and then a 5 on 4 for just short of three and a half minutes.
The Admirals managed to kill the 5 on 3 but the always potent Fort powerplay scored twice, to make it 5-2 Chiefs.
The game was slowly getting out of hand and the Chiefs had blood in their eyes, taking runs at the Admirals players, throwing sucker punches and using their sticks for everything except moving the puck, trying exact revenge on the Admirals players for the two majors.
It took a while but the officials finally started calling the Chiefs and in the last 1:44 of the game assessed them 57 minutes in penalties. It was a gong show but in that same time frame the Admirals had only taken one two minute penalty.
The Admirals were once again buzzing and Branden Baumgartner scored their final goal with 48 seconds to go. (Cody Esposito was initially credited with the goal.)
It was possible the Admirals could have had more but the referee was letting play continue, to try and wind the clock down faster. Several stops in play could have occurred but didn’t and time ran out before the Admirals could claw their way back. In the end it was 5-3 Fort Sask Chiefs and the shots were tied 45 apiece.
“Discipline, discipline, discipline was in short supply today,” said Assistant Coach Tyler Lightbown. “This was a game that could have gone either way and we gave away two goals in the first and two late in the third period because we lacked the discipline to stay out of the box. If we had controlled ourselves throughout the game, like we did in the last five minutes, things may have ended differently.
“We had our power play chances 5 on 3 and 5 on 4, but we weren’t crisp with our puck movement and missed a couple of golden opportunities that would have made a difference. On the plus side, we had some solid work effort coming from the majority of the guys and that work ethic will create positive results, going forward. We seem to be in a bit of a learning curve with half our players being new and playing together for the first time but that will soon sort itself out and we’ll move forward.”
Next home game for the Sylvan Lake Admirals is Friday, Nov. 16th, when the Stony Plain Eagles make their first appearance at the multiplex. Puck drops 8:30 p.m. See you there.