Admirals Start Busy Week With Loss to Essex, Road Win In Wheatley

The Amherstburg Admirals four-game week began in inauspicious fashion in a drubbing in Essex, but was followed up with arguably the team’s biggest win of the season in Wheatley.

On Tuesday night in Essex, the Admirals did not play the way any team needs to play in order to hang with the high-powered 73’s, and watched as the home side scored and scored again in a 11-2 blowout loss. Rookie forward Finnigan Russett scored shorthanded for the second straight game, and veteran forward Owen Papulkas continued his personal point-streak with his fifth goal of the season in the defeat.

Looking to quickly erase the Essex game from memory, the Admirals were back in action the following night in Wheatley to take on the fourth-place Sharks. And right from the opening faceoff it was easy to tell that a much different team had shown up. From start to finish the Admirals were quick on the puck, forechecked with vigour, and defended with everything they had. Wheatley native Cole Vaillancourt opened the scoring with his second goal in an Admiral sweater at 8:24 of the first period to give his team a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes of play. The Sharks came out with more energy in the second however, which resulted in some good pressure in the Amherstburg zone, but it wasn’t until the late stages of the period that they solved goaltender Joe Costea. Jake Eaton tied the game at 15:26 and then Brendan Pitre scored 20 seconds later on a long range shot that eluded Costea to give the Sharks a 2-1 advantage after two.

A flukey goal like that can often times completely deflate a team, but that was not the case on this night. The Admirals stormed into the third period and regained momentum with hard-working shifts that eventually led to a Sharks penalty. And at 6:53 the Admirals capitalized on it with Owen Papulkas labelling a perfect shot up top over goaltender Ethan Handley to level things up at 2-2. The remaining 13 minutes of regulation solved nothing and the game required extra time. Much like they did in their recent OT victory in Blenheim, the Admirals were the quicker and more aggressive team in the 3on3 situation. That speed and aggression would pay off when top scorer Jake Archer found himself on a breakaway, and as the best goal-scorers have a knack for, he cooly and calmy took his chance and made it count by sneaking a shot past Handley for the game-winning tally. Joe Costea shook off the nightmare goal in the second and showed some true mettle in shutting the door the rest of the way. His 34 saves earned him his fourth victory of the season in goal.

The victory was the Admirals second win of the month over one of the division’s top four teams, adding to their OT win over Blenheim on January 11. Now three points clear of Dresden for sixth-place in the Stobbs division, the team shifts focus to two more games this weekend. They will host the rematch against the Sharks on Saturday night, and then will be back on Libro Centre ice Sunday night when the Mooretown Flags come to town.