Something about the West Division right now…
Milwaukee moved to 9-2-0-1 this season against the West Division, after the Admirals came from behind to defeat the conference leading Oklahoma City Barons 5-3 Friday night. (Video highlights here)
The Barons scored the first two of the game…Linus Omark was left all alone on the power play, and he took a pass from Ryan Keller and put a nice deke on Jeremy Smith before scoring. About three minutes later, Tyler Pitnick took a feed from behind the goal-line, and his one-timer beat Smith.
The Admirals then proceeded to score the next four goals.
Joel Champagne forced a turnover behind the Baron net, and the puck bounced to Kyle Wilson in the slot. Wilson moved the puck to his forehand and beat Yann Danis at the 17:59 mark of the first period.
Thirty seconds later, an odd goal for Ryan Thang. Thanger tripped one of the Barons and the ref’s arm went up. While on the delayed call, the Barons knocked the puck into their own net. The puck kind of pinballed off a couple of skaters, and then bounced by Danis, who hadn’t vacated the net yet. So Thang got the goal and then the gate.
In the second period, Tyler Sloan scored his first AHL goal since February 6th, 2009. Chris Mueller fed Sloan, who was pinching down the slot, and his shot beat Danis. (Incidentally, Kyle Wilson was Sloan’s teammate with the Hershey Bears at his last goal, and also scored in that game…another 5-3 victory).
Ben Ryan made it a 4-2 lead with his second of the year, capitalizing right above the crease, after Kevin Henderson knocked down a clearing attempt at the left circle. It was Henderson’s first point as an Admiral.
Teemu Hartikainen made it a one-goal game putting in a rebound after a Taylor Chorney shot was saved by Smith.
After a couple of Admiral penalties in the latter half of the third period, the penalty kill came up huge, and then Jani Lajunen scored into an empty net with 9.8 left to play, for his second goal of the year.
This one was a team effort….which is great, because Paul Fenton was in the house to see it. Ryan Thang had a (fluke) goal and an (empty net) assist, and nine other guys had one point. Saw guys on the scoresheet that we haven’t seen a lot lately….Ben Ryan, Jani Lajunen, Tyler Sloan…. And listening to Aaron Sims’ call of the game, it sounded like Joel Champagne had his best game of the season overall.
A strong forecheck turned into a lot of scoring chances, and their ability to capitalize on some of them reminds me of this team from early in the season.
It’s a rematch tomorrow night in OKC. We’ll see if they go back to Smitty again, or if Atte Engren gets the start.