Milwaukee overcame somewhat of a sluggish start to beat rival Peoria 2-1 Thursday night. And they looked good doing it in their beautiful Quebec Nordique-style throwback jerseys.
In their ninth consecutive try, the Ads were able to finally string two wins together after facing a 1-0 first period deficit.
Jeremy Smith had another great night stopping 31 of 30 shots and earning second-star honors. He had a couple of nice glove saves on Peoria’s Phil McRae and Andrew Murray before allowing a goal that seemed a bit controversial.
At 14:29 Smith appeared to cover the puck on a scramble in front, but Adam Cracknell was able to direct it into the net from his belly.
The Admirals looked a little slow in the first period, and coach Dean Evason said the Rivermen looked a bit fresher after the six-day Christmas break.
Evason also felt his team passed up too many early scoring opportunities.
Milwaukee’s play improved in the second as it began to get better second-chance opportunities. It used one to tie the game up 6:50 after the first break.
Taylor Beck won a faceoff in the offensive zone and freed it up for Jon Blum who fired a slapper on goalie Jake Allen. Beck got the rebound from the right side of the net and tried a wraparound that sailed on him. It went to Chris Mueller who threw it past Allen out of midair.
Smitty got a big assist from the right post with 10:16 left in the game as a long shot went past him and clanged off it. The lamp lit, but the puck didn’t cross the line as it caremed back to him where he was able to freeze it.
After about thirty minutes of tough scoreless hockey and whiffed chances, the Ads got the edge. A Ryan Ellis slapper rose up off the stick of T.J. Hensick and went past Allen with 3:38 left to go. Michael Latta got the assist after a nice cross-ice feed.
With the net empty for the final minute, Smith made a good final stand. He made a nice save with about ten seconds left and the Ads were able to clear it to center ice to seal the win.
Smitty credits his team’s play around him for his recent streak of success.
Evason was quick to sing his goaltenders praises and lauded Smith’s workman-like attitude despite a rough start to the season.
Evason gave an update on Gabriel Bourque’s status after missing Thursday night:
The Admirals take on Peoria again tomorrow night, same time same place to try to secure their first three-game winning streak of the season.
How much do you think Smitty’s improvement has come from competition with Magnus Hellberg (if at all)?
What does it mean to you that the Admirals were able to gut out a tough win after a long break? Do you think they perhaps have turned a corner?
Thursday’s unis were pretty sweet, and they’ll be wearing them again Friday. What’s your favorite Ads alternate/throwback of all time?