Admirals Experience New Overtime Format, and Franchise Record


The Milwaukee Admirals have officially set a franchise record for their best ever start to a hockey season. Their two wins this weekend pushed the win streak up to six-games. And they are now the AHL’s last remaining unbeaten team. The results from the weekend slate weren’t as pretty or polished as the team may have wanted, but the wins keep on coming for the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate.

The first game of the weekend was a showdown between the Admirals Amtrak Rivals, the Chicago Wolves. The two sides combined to only have dropped a single point coming into the game with the Wolves losing one overtime contest. This would be another overtime loss for the Wolves, but it allowed the Admirals their first chance to pit themselves to the brand new AHL overtime format.

The AHL’s new overtime format goes as such. There is a dry scraping of the ice after regulation. Instead of five-minutes of overtime, with four-on-four hockey, there are now seven-minutes of overtime. Once the first whistle is blown after three-minutes of four-on-four overtime – the game is reduced to four minutes of three-on-three. In the case of no game-winner from the seven-minute overtime, there is a best of three shootout format – another change to the AHL’s previous best of five shootout competition from year’s past.

“I know it’s probably exciting as heck out there to watch it,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of the three-on-three overtime format. “There’s just so much ice. It just doesn’t look right. Clearly, it looks like pond hockey because of all the room. I’m not crazy about the shootout because that’s one-on-one. So, I guess, three-on-three or four-on-four it’s a little better that you can at least decide it with a pass or a defensive play and turning it into an offensive play. It’s a bit more of a team concept.”

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With their first taste of the new overtime rules, the Admirals won by a final score of 3-2 on the three-on-three situation of the new AHL overtime format. The versatility from both benches as to what three players were on the ice at the time was a fascinating watch. Do you play two defensemen and a forward? Two forwards and one defenseman? Three forwards? In the end, it appeared the winning formula was two forwards and one defenseman as Anthony Bitetto was the man on the mark for the Ads to keep the winning streak alive. It was his first goal of the season.

“We’re in the entertainment business,” mused Evason of the new overtime format. “I mean, if I am sitting up in the stands I would certainly be entertained the way it goes back-and-fourth. It’s exciting but I’m sure coaches are probably not as excited.”

One night later, the Admirals were up against the sword by division dwellers the Lake Erie Monsters. It was sloppy. It was sluggish. And all around defensive. The Admirals had registered three goals per game coming into the Saturday night game with the Monsters. They had also only trailed for a staggering 1:48 of ice time the entire season through five games, as well. With the Monsters up 1-0 during the second period – the game looked as though it could have seen the end of the unbeaten run to start the season.

Then came the late dramatics that would see Garrett Noonan step up and hammer in his first professional goal to push the Admirals into overtime for a second straight night. This rodeo would would survive the full test of seven-minutes of overtime and fall to the shootout. What a perfect scenario then for Magnus Hellberg to capitalize from his first start of the season in a place he is oh-so comfortable in. The Admirals had attempts buried by Brendan Leipsic and Pontus Åberg combined with two denials from Hellberg to seal a 2-1 win.

“[Marek Mazanec] just said it was chaos,” said Magnus Hellberg about three-on-three overtime hockey. “And I think it sums it up pretty good. There’s a lot of two-on-ones and you just have to try and win the puck back because there’s never really a good time to change. But, it’s fun. It’s a little new and different but I kind of like it.”

The Admirals next game is on Wednesday against the Iowa Wild and will be only just their third home game of the season. You have to keep in mind that, of this franchise record winning streak to start this season, four of the six wins have come on the road. The Ads are settling in for a stretch of six games at home from their next eight contests. This winning streak will surely run to ground at some point. But I’m not too certain that the positive results won’t keep pouring on.