It was a tough night for the Aeros as they lost to the Milwaukee Admirals 5-4 in overtime. The Aeros, playing the third game of a three-in-three, as were the Admirals, jumped out to the quick lead, going up 2-0 on the Ads early in the first period off goals from Chay Genoway and Kris Foucault.
But the Ads put up a power play goal with 20 seconds left in the first period, then tied the game late in the second period as they pretty much dominated play. The Ads outshot the Aeros 16-5 in the first period and 5-4 in the second, and the Aeros just seemed to be playing tired.
The Aeros took the lead midway through the third period on a Jonas Brodin goal, but less than a minute later the Ads tied it at 3-3. And Kevin Henderson put Milwaukee back on top. The Admirals appeared to have the game locked up, only to have Nick Palmieri tip in a Marco Scandella shot with under a minute left in the game.
The Aeros lost 51 seconds into the overtime as Mattias Ekholm scored on the power play to end the game.
Both teams really appeared to be fighting through exhaustion in the third, but Milwaukee appeared to handle the situation better. So while the Aeros held the very, very early momentum, the Ads got in when they needed it and held on to it.
"It's just one of those situations, I think, where we deviated from our game plan and we let them back in the game and got away from what was working for us and got us those two quick goals," Drew Bagnall said after the game. "Hopefully it's a learning experience. It's still early in the year, and those things are going to happen against good teams. Every night each team can beat you, so we've got to be ready each night
This game was an important learning situation -- the whole weekend was -- and hopefully, like Bagnall said, the team does learn from it. There are a lot of youngsters on this team who have never played three games in three nights before, and for the team to progress and keep winning, they're going to have to learn to handle this situation.
"I think it's just something they have to come to terms with," Bagnall said. "You can tell them -- the biggest thing is in practice, when we're in drills and really tired, that's when you have to understand that's what playing in a three-in-three is like, especially in the third period, if you're on the penalty kill or you're stuck out on the ice. You have to make the simple play, the right play, and it's not always the play that's going to result in a goal, but it's a play that's not going to hurt your team."
But it does need to be remembered that there is some positive news out of the weekend. The Aeros came away with five out of a possible six points this weekend. Bagnall said that's another big thing for the team to learn. They've got to learn to look at the big picture, and the big picture is that getting points is a good thing.
And Bagnall thinks the team took a big leap this weekend. He likes the play of the young skill players, and this weekend was a key step in their continued development in working together as a team and not just as individual players.
"I just feel that they are exactly that, very skilled," he said. "They see the ice really well. And for young players, they use their teammates a lot. A lot of young guys will try to beat guys one-on-one. And I think this weekend we kind of came another step towards developing as a team, playing within the system, and finding a way to score goals that way."
Let's hope the appropriate lessens are being learned because the Aeros are going to play a lot more three-in-threes before the season is over.
They return to the ice on Friday night when they play in Oklahoma City before returning to Toyota Center to host the Admirals one final time for this season on Saturday night.
Kris Fredheim, Jason Zucker, Brett Bulmer, and Tyler Cuma were the scratches. Zucker and Cuma were definitely injures. Bulmer skated on the ice pre-game, so the assumption is that he was a healthy scratch.
We asked Bagnall about fighting, and about John Torchetti's desire to have Bagnall on the ice. Bagnall would prefer that as well, but he's not going to ask the rest of the team to do something that he wouldn't do.
"I just think that if I'm going to try and be in that leadership role and preach that we have to be a pack mentality, I can't go out there and expect guys to do something that I wouldn't do," he said. "In the same breath, I'm not going to fight twice in the same game every night. If I feel like someone's going to take advantage of our skill players, I'm going to step up and try to do something about it. Hopefully other guys fill that role, and they did throughout the course of the weekend."