(Photo credit: Scott Paulus)
Magnus Hellberg’s confidence has got to be sky high right now.
Hellberg recorded his 9th win in his last 11 games, and the Admirals won a season high fourth game in a row, dropping the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-1 Saturday night.
With the win, the Admirals jump to 9th place in the conference, tied in points with 8th place Oklahoma City…who have played one less game.
Mark Van Guilder opened the scoring with his first goal since February 10th. Taylor Beck’s shot from the right point had a huge rebound that kicked to MVG, who was skating along the left wing. From a tough angle, Van Guilder swept a backhand shot around a sliding Chad Billins, and that shot ended up beating Petr Mrazek. (Van Guilder called a “sixth grade changeup” after the game)
The Griffins tied it up about two minutes into the second period, illustrating again why it’s important to win defensive zone face-offs. Austin Watson lost a defensive zone face-off, and then a good low shot from the top of the left circle by Andrej Nestrasil beat Magnus Hellberg stick-side.
I know there are lots of folks that love to dump on the Milwaukee power play…but they’ve scored a power play goal in four of their last five games. Juuso Puustinen had the honors tonight, with a shot from the point that went off of the right post and into the net at 10:19 of the second period.
About four minutes later, Triston Grant and Max Nicastro made like a scene from Benny Hill, colliding with each other and falling down. Josh Shalla picked up the puck and went in on a breakaway. His shot went 5-hole on Mrazek for his first career AHL goal (he previously scored the game winner in a shootout….also against Mrazek).
Michael Latta grabbed the puck for him.
And then the Admirals threw a parade. There were floats, high school marching bands, and Admirals players following the parade route to their penalty box. The officials (the ever popular Shaun Davis and Mark Lemelin) hadn’t called a ton of stuff to that point, but whistled the Admirals at 16:36, 18:24, and 19:18. The Griffins had a couple of 5-on-3 chances there, but the Admirals did well to kill everything off. Hellberg was sharp, and shots were being blocked before they made it to him.
What a momentum changer that was…after that last penalty was killed off.
Coming into tonight, the Griffins sported the 3rd best road power play in the league, and had scored a power play goal against the Admirals in all six of their previous meetings. They went 0-5 tonight.
-Here’s one of Hellberg’s best saves of the game, stopping a short-handed chance in the second period.
– Admirals dressed seven defensemen again…same lineup as Wednesday night. There’s a good chance Mike Liambas will be ready to go next weekend.
– Admirals now 14-8-0-1 when scoring a power play goal.
– Griffin’s five-game win streak is snapped. Admirals lead season series against the division leader 4-3, with one game left in Grand Rapids on April 12th.
– Austin Watson….now 16 straight games without a goal. Hope he snaps out of it next weekend. Had 8 shots on goal tonight, though. For a team that sometimes tends to pass up shots, it’s nice to see a crooked number like that from a guy.
The Rivermen did us a favor and shutout the IceHogs 4-0….Andre Bouvet-Morrissette netted his first AHL goal in that one. Toronto dropped Rochester 6-1, and that helps us too. Even though we don’t play Rochester during the regular season, we’re chasing them in the conference standings, and sit just two points behind them now. We’re just two points out of 6th place.