by Ted Stephens – Special to Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake Admirals won back-to-back games against Stony Plain Eagles when they scored twice as many goals at their opposition last Friday night at the multiplex for a 6-3 win.
The Eagles had added two key players from last season, Rob Hayne and Justin Cox so had additional depth in their offence.
But when the puck dropped, it appeared the Admirals had a game plan of their own. Tenacious forechecking by Aaron Boyer created a quick turnover by the Eagles defense. Boyer knocked down a pass just inside the Eagles end zone and skated in untouched to make it a quick 1-0 lead at the 18:50 mark.
The flyweight line of Mailey, Young and Knelsen led a charge that seemed to inspire the entire bench and every line found ways to keep the pressure up. At 10:25, the Eagles took a two minute hooking call and the Admirals had a chance to add to the lead. In previous games, the power play had sputtered, at best, but this time round, it was hot.
Crisp passing tape-to-tape soon opened the door and 13 seconds into the PP, Cody Esposito scored from Turner Lachance and Ernie Stewart.
With 3:12 to go, Eagles five-year veteran Doug Auchenberg took the puck coast-to-coast and slid home a backhander to make it 2-1.
Shots on net in the first were even at 15 each.
The late first period goal by Auchenberg lifted the Stony bench and they played with a renewed sense of urgency as the second opened. The Admirals didn’t help their own cause as Stony tied the game at 11:48 on a power play after the Admirals managed to kill a previous penalty.
At the 10 minute mark, the Admirals had been outshot 10-2, had given up a power play goal and needed something to jump start the second half. That something took a while to kick in.
As the game swung in favour of the Admirals, hard work by Mailey, Young and Knelsen paid dividends. Mailey kept the puck in the offensive end, dumping it to the corner where Young chipped it over to Knelsen who was about to attempt a wrap around, but could see he didn’t have the room and made a quick pass to Luke Boyer, who was drifting in from the point. A quick one-timer and the Admirals again had the lead 3-2 at 4:07.
On the ensuing face off, the Eagles chipped the puck into the Admirals end and did some solid fore checking, tying the game 3-3 just 56 seconds later.
The period ended tied 3-3 with the Eagles holding the edge on shots for the period, 18-11.
The only advantage in the first 10 minutes of the third period went to the Eagles as the Admirals were sitting two for interference. Shots and play were almost equal through the first 13 minutes when a pressing Eagles crew got caught pinching a little too much.
From the left side faceoff circle, Barrett Brook made the perfect bank pass, cross ice, off the right boards, behind former Red Deer Rebel Cody Esposito’s back. It popped out in front of Esposito at the perfect angle for him to skate into. The Eagles D-man was caught flat footed and had no chance of catching the hard charging Esposito. 4-3 Admirals with 6:54 remaining.
Less than 2 minutes later, Tyler Moir worked hard from behind the net and wrapped one in. Barrett Brook had kept it in at the point and Branden Gay had outmuscled the Eagles D to get the puck to Moir.
The Admirals bench was hopping, every man standing and encouraging the next. Things soon became spirited as the Eagles bench could feel the game slipping away and with 4:12 remaining, a scrum in the corner saw four penalty minutes assessed to each team.
The Admirals weren’t done yet. A huge rebound came floating out to the blue line just as Brian Pieper came into the play from the Admirals’ bench. He was able to skate into it and let a big slapshot go, finding the back of the net with 2:27 to go, assists to Ernie Stewart and Aaron Boyer.
That was the last goal scored ending the game at 6-3 Admirals. Final shots on net 49-41 Stony Plain.
“It was a solid win,” said Assistant Coach DJ Brough. “The boys committed to the game plan and had one of our best efforts of the season. We were obviously weakened on the back end with missing D-men but our forwards, playing D, found a way to get the job done and that’s what counts, that extra effort. Scotty (Scott Galenza) really stepped up in the third and shut the door, which gave a boost for the boys up front and kept the momentum going.
“Our power play has finally started to connect and those extra goals are important in any win.”
The Admirals next home game is Jan. 4th when the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs are at the multiplex for an 8:30 p.m. start.