Admirals were in the game to the end despite 5-3 loss to Bentley

The hometown Sylvan Lake Admirals hosted Bentley Generals, last Friday night, losing a 5-3 decision.

by Ted Stephens

The hometown Sylvan Lake Admirals hosted Bentley Generals, last Friday night, losing a 5-3 decision.

With just a handful of games left, only the first place Generals have secured their position and second, third, fourth and fifth place are yet to be determined.

The Admirals have struggled all season with defence, having lost all but one player on the back end from last season.

Offensively the Admirals are vastly improved and in fact, have scored more goals than the second place Innisfail Eagles and just four less than the third place Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs, but scoring goals is only half the equation.

Both teams seemed anxious to get the game started as there was obvious nervous tension in and around both dressing rooms.

As the puck dropped it was obvious that the Admirals were wound a little tight and the Generals were in full attack mode, quickly taking advantage. Barely two minutes in the Generals took a quick goal that all thought was a 1-0 lead but the net was off and after a discussion with his linesmen the goal was waved off by the referee. A minute late, on a scramble around the Admirals net, Bentley scored with a goal by Sean Robertson from Curtis Austring and Chris Neiszner. This was followed 48 seconds later by Travis Brigley from Scott Doucet and Chris Neiszner to make it 2-0 Generals.

Every Generals’ fan was cheering and smiling, nodding to one another, confident that the Army was going to easily march over the Navy.

That confidence was shattered 14 seconds later when the Admirals replied on a goal by Aaron Boyer from Branden Gay and Kurtis Ross and 50 seconds later it was Thomas Frazee from Cody Esposito to tie the game.

From that point on it was a battle, neither team giving an inch and both teams playing hard solid hockey. At 10:15 Generals were on the power play when an Admirals defenseman, in an attempt to clear a rebound, had the puck go off his skate and into the net to give the Generals a 3-2 lead at 9:12.

Hard fast hockey, end to end, was what the second period brought. Solid chances at both ends were turned away by the tenders and the battle continued. At 13:50 the Generals struck, this time Geordie Wudrick from Travis Dunstall made it 4-2.

At 10:51, the speedster, Jeff Young, broke down the left wing, pulling the Generals D man with him as he headed for the net. Seeing he was at a bad angle for the shot he looked to the slot for an open man and saw Thomas Frezee, the newest Admiral, open and ready. With one motion and no hesitation, Frezee found the net, pulling the Admirals within one.

At the other end, Andy Williams, the Admirals netminder, was doing everything to keep the Admirals in the game and was forced to changed helmets as he took a hard slap shot on his mask that broke the straps. Minutes later a second shot also clipped his helmet and he took a minute to clear his head.

With 3:26 remaining, Brett Robertson from Matthew Kinch and Kyle Sheen made it 5-3 Bentley, when the Admirals defence failed to clear the puck.

The period ended without further scoring and the total shots on net were tied 22-22 at the end of two.

Starting the third period Caylin Relkoff, a new goaltender for the Admirals, stepped between the pipes as Williams was feeling dizzy and light headed after taking the two shots to the head. This was no slow dance for Relkoff in his first dabble with the Chinook Hockey League. Both teams were looking for the win and had a full head of steam. Action continued at a high pace and the younger legs of the Admirals kept them in the game but the Generals kept everything to the outside giving little room for the Admirals’ speedsters to get quality shots on net.

At the Admirals end, newcomer Relkoff had quickly settled into a groove and was stopping everything the Generals had to offer. That was how the third played out, lots of action and chances but no one gained an inch and the game ended 5-3 Generals.

“I thought it could have gone either way,” said Coach Jason Stephens. “We played well enough and had our chances but just failed to connect. We scored on ourselves and gave up a power play goal without getting one ourselves and that was the difference in the game.

“Three posts and a cross bar went out, not in, so we were there. Our two new players, Thomas Frazee and Caylin Relkoff did well in their first taste of Senior AAA hockey and we’ll see more of them in coming games.

“No one wants to lose a game but playing as we did tonight, we’ll certainly win far more than we’ll lose and that’s a big step forward for us as we head into the playoffs. The guys didn’t give up, our goaltenders gave us a chance and we were in it all the way — we just didn’t get the outcome we were looking for.”

The final regular season game for the Admirals is tomorrow (Friday) night at the multiplex against the Stony Plain Eagles. Game time is 8:30 p.m.

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