The road success for the Milwaukee Admirals has carried over to the new year and the new roster. Ryan Thang had two goals including the eventual game winner, and the Admirals won their 17th straight regular season road game, defeating the Peoria Rivermen 4-1 on Saturday night.
Jeremy Smith made 22 saves on 23 shots for the victory.
Coach Muller (I typed “Lambert” in at first….I’ll get used to it) said he thought the team stayed true to the game plan.
Peoria got on the board first at 9:06 of the first period. Admiral nemesis Brett Sterling welcomed himself back to the Western Conference by deflecting a Danny Syvret shot from the point amidst a lot of traffic in front of Smith. It was a power play goal that came just after a 5-on-3 power play ended.
Michael Latta was awarded a penalty shot at 15:45 after a hook from behind foiled a breakaway. On the penalty shot attempt, Latta came in slow, flinched to fake a wrister, went to his forehand, and beat Jake Allen five-hole.
The ice conditions were a problem (it was 85 degrees in Peoria today), and both teams had some issues with puck control. As the first period was concluding, a Riverman forward took a pass out of their defensive zone, but couldn’t control it, and ended up playing it back IN to the defensive zone. A few seconds later, Victor Bartley had a shot from the point that hit iron, but Ryan Thang put the rebound past Allen with 1:04 left in the period.
After a scoreless second period, the Admirals stretched their lead to 3-1, with a Jusso Puustinen goal. But the major credit on the play goes to Jani Lajunen. Despite Rivermen D-man Mark Cundari having position in the neutral zone, Lajunen went around him, stripped him on the puck, and led a rush back into the offensive zone. He found Puustinen in the slot for the goal that Coach Muller said was the turning point of the game.
Ryan Thang scored an empty-netter with 1:30 left in the game.
Thang – Mueller – Bourque
Wilson – Lajunen – Puustinen
Champagne – Van Guilder – Beck
Cahill – Latta – Flynn
Ellis – Sloan
Bartley – Ford
Foss – Valentine
Coach Muller says he got contributions from all of his lines.
That line of TJ Hensick, Brett Sterling, and Jonathan Cheechoo….lots of offensive talent. They can try to be too cute at times, and they can be a little slow back into the d-zone. The only Admiral goal they weren’t on the ice for was the penalty shot. They all finished -3 on the night. Here’s how Coach Muller prepared for that line.
Biggest change in this game compared to last year: there was no sign of the prevent-defense. They weren’t playing to hold on the lead. The Admirals played hard the whole game. They outshot the Rivermen 30-23 overall, and 11-6 in the 3rd period. This is very encouraging.
Lajunen and Puustinen have some great chemistry together already, and Kyle Wilson had some great chances on that line too.
Jeff Foss….looked miles better than the way he played at his ATO at the end of last year.
Atte Engren dressed as Jeremy Smith’s backup. Chet Pickard didn’t. Don’t know if we should read anything into that, but you can if you want to.
New referee….Graham Skilliter. Or as he’ll be known as for the rest of the year, Graham Skeletor.
OK Roundtable — whether you made the trip to Peoria, or made the trip to Buck Bradley’s, or made the trip to your radio to listen to Aaron, what did you think of the first game? Which line did you think was best? Who are you excited to see more of?