If Milwaukee does not make the AHL playoff this season, it will be easy to point to one reason why–the Admirals’ abysmal record against Rockford.
On the sixth annual Pedigree Dog Day Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center, the Ice Hogs made it seven in row over Milwaukee with a 3-2 shootout victory. With the win Rockford now owns a stunning 8-1-0-1 against the Admirals this season and the two points gained ties the Ice Hogs with Milwaukee at 71 in the Western Conference. Both squads stand four points behind the four-way log jam at 75, represented by the sixth through ninth place spots of Charlotte, Rochester, San Antonio and Peoria, respectively.
However, it wasn’t all negative for the Admirals as Brodie Dupont’s goal in the final minute of regulation earned Milwaukee five points out of a possible six on the weekend, making a return to the playoffs a much more feasible proposition than it was three days prior.
Here is Admirals coach Ian Herbers thoughts on the game:
Coming off the bus from Peoria the previous night Milwaukee (65 Games Played, 33-27-2-3–75 points) played desperate, but sluggish at the same time, allowing several odd man rushes against in the first few minutes. That pressure resulted in Rockford (68 GP, 32-29-2-5–71 points) scoring the game’s opening goal eight minutes in as former Admiral and Nashville Predator Wade Brookbank out-muscled his defender and goaltender Atte Engren to put away a loose rebound for his first goal of the season. Former Wisconsin Badger Brian Fahey appeared to make it 2-0 later in the period, but the goal was waved off as Engren was interfered with by a crashing Ice Hogs forward.
Regrouping from that point Milwaukee dominated the rest of the period, and got rewarded for it when Ryan Thang tied the game with 53 seconds left in the first period. It was Mark Van Guilder’s dogged effort that setup the gorgeous play, working his way out from behind the net to hit Thang on the back door with a backhand pass. All the former Golden Domer had to do find the empty net from down on one leg.
Despite a 10-8 deficit in shots during the second period the Ice Hogs were the better team, and a result Rockford restored their one goal lead at 2-1. Three minutes into the middle frame former 2008 11th overall draft pick Kyle Beach was the receiving end of text book setup of their own from Brandon Svendsen and newly minted Rockford forward Terry Broadhurst (recently of Nebraska-Omaha). Both the Admirals defense and Engren over committed to the Ice Hogs forwards in the corner, allowing Beach plenty of room for a one-timed blast.
From that point the Admirals showed plenty of desperation looking for the tying marker. Yet once again Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton foiled just about everything Milwaukee threw at him. As the Admirals took chances Engren made a few key saves of odd man rushes on the other end.
After both teams took timeouts Milwaukee finally got into Rockford’s zone with pressure in the final 40 seconds. The result was Jonathan Blum’s best play of the season in Milwaukee, as he made a seeing eye slap shot pass toward Dupont, which the red hot Admiral deflected into the gaping space of net on the right side of Hutton. Dupont’s equalizer with 31.4 seconds left earned Milwaukee its much needed point.
After a quiet overtime Rockford closed things out in the shootout as both Philippe Paradis and Rostislav Olesz made Engren look like a chew toy with slick moves.
It was certainly an eventful night for Milwaukee’s Finnish netminder:
Milwaukee’s second shooter Kyle Wilson scored on a smooth backhand fake to get the Admirals on the board, but Chris Mueller, Ryan Thang and Taylor Beck all failed to force extra shooters.
So Roundtable . . . Another start for Carter Hutton, and another win against Milwaukee (8-1-0 against the Admirals), but could Dupont’s last minute goal turn the corner for the Admirals confidence against Hutton?
How satisfied are you with five of six points this weekend?
Have your thoughts changed on Milwaukee’s chances for making the playoffs?