The Admirals are going to the big dance.
Thanks to their 3-2 shootout win over the San Antonio Rampage, the Admirals have punched their Calder Cup playoff ticket. New guy Atte Engren got the start, and came up huge in the shootout, for his first North American W.
Coach Lambert liked the improvement from Engren’s last start.
“I thought he did a very good job of making some adjustments tonight compared to when he played on Saturday in Rockford. He played well.”
The game really didn’t get started until the second period and it was the Rampage that got things going. While Mark Van Guilder was in the sin bin, the Rampage were peppering the crease with shots from all over the zone. One shot from the near side was kicked to the far side by Engren. After the save Engren seemed to have tripped or fell but was doing barrel rolls to the opposite side of the crease, and that made for easy pickings for Garrett Stafford, netting his 13th on the year at the 2:42 mark. I don’t want to say this goal was Engren’s fault completely, but he seemed to be a bit out of position and unable to get back to a sound hockey position after the initial stop.
The next penalty was called on the Rampage and the Admirals were able to even the score on that power play. Nick Ross was serving a hooking penalty, and just under a minute later Teemu Laakso put the bisquik in the basket at the 12:12 point. The play started with the Admirals doing a great job containing the zone when the puck came to Andreas Thuresson, who pushed the puck up to Santorelli on the near side and a couple feet from the cage. Santo found Laakso crashing the back side and had a great pass though the crease to the tape of Teemu, and it went to the back of the net immediately.
Exactly 2 minutes later the Admirals took the lead with a delayed penalty goal by Grant Lewis and one for his highlight reel for sure. With Engren out and the extra attacker in for the Admirals, the o-zone was shrinking on Matt Climie. Kelsey Wilson dished the pass forward to Grant Lewis who had some room to move. He took a stride or two forward and was tripped by Viktor Tikhonov but on Lewis’s way to the ice he put on a shot that beat Climie for Grant’s 7th on the year. This was a great play for Lewis, and a great job by the Ads to get the extra skater out there for added pressure. While the goal doesn’t count as a power play goal it was still with an odd man advantage.
“I don’t know if their team let up at all,” Coach Lambert said. “Sometimes you can have a tendency to do that, thinking that you’re going to get the puck and the whistle’s going to blow. He made a great individual effort, obviously, he showed his size and strength and his reach with the play, and made a great play.”
The Rampage tied the game shortly after the Lewis goal on a fluky and incredibly lucky goal by Randy Robitaille at 17:56. With the Admirals struggling to cover or clear the puck, the Rampage were working against a tired Milwaukee crew. After a shot put on Engren that was turned aside, the puck caromed out to the far face off dot. Robitaille skated up to it, spun around, and tried to pass/shoot the puck to the near side boards. The puck found Brock McBride’s skate which was in the crease following the puck. The puck just smoothly skimmed the ice towards the net and nothing anyone could do to stop it. The goal was unassisted (by a Rampage player) and gave Robitaille his 5th on the year.
The 3rd period came and went just like the first period and in the overtime both goalies came up big on a couple occasions forcing the game to go into a shoot out. Engren stopped the first three shots he faced, and allowed a goal on the fourth attempt to Viktor Tikhonov. Meanwhile, Gabriel “Money shot” Bourque, Roman Josi, and Andreas Thuresson all beat Matt Climie, to give the Admirals the shootout win.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS:
Time to start growing your playoff beards. Gentlemen AND ladies. It starts tonight.
“It’s been a grind all year long,” Coach Lambert said. “Our team, even though we’ve had some call-ups and injuries, has done a very good job of being resilient. Especially down the stretch here right now. We’ve created enough separation….we’ve made the playoffs and that’s step one. Now the step is to fight for first place.”
Steve Begin was back, and took a really dumb penalty in the first period to put the Admirals down two men. He did have a great return on investment because I think he drew 2 or 3 penalties for the Admirals also. High marks for the penalty kill early on.
Man, Bourque is on fire in the shootout. He has scored in his last three shootout attempts. And way for Thuresson to come up boo-yah huge, on just his 2nd attempt of the year.
I’m just gonna say what we’re all thinking. We love Ryan, but he’s still a bit green. But that’s okay. He’s just keeping Matt Moore’s seat warm for him.
I think Engren was better tonight than he was on Saturday in Rockford, but he sure does come with a fair share of fan anxiety. He seems a bit jumpy and very excited to skate out of the crease. Excluding Chet Pickard, who was the last goalie that made you nervous every time the opposing team would enter the zone?
Did you like the dodgeball game, or was it another excuse to take a lap or two around the concourse?
Ryan Thang is quietly playing great. The past couple games he has really been fighting and making good things happen on rushes.
So Austin Watson is here. And a couple others (not Beck, Ellis, or Latta) will be signed to ATO contracts tomorrow. We asked Lane if he thinks they may be playing at some point this weekend.
“We’ll see. Obviously our team is sort of built on our fundamentals and our structure and we want to make sure that we don’t throw anybody to the Wolves so to speak before they are ready to play. We want to people in the best possible position to succeed, so tomorrow will be a big day for all those guys.”
My translation: Bring your “A” game to practice, and then MAYBE we’ll talk about ice time.