In a game that meant very little outside of counting stats, the Admirals scored three power play goals, en route to a 4-1 over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
In more meaningful games, both the Oklahoma City Barons and Texas Stars lost, which means that Texas will be Milwaukee’s first round opponent.
Game 1: Thursday the 14th in MKE
Game 2: Saturday the 16th in MKE
Game 3: Tuesday the 19th in Texas
Game 4: Wednesday the 20th in Texas
Game 5: Friday the 22nd in Texas (if needed)
Game 6: Monday the 25th in MKE (if needed)
Game 7: Tuesday the 26th in MKE (if needed)
“They are a team that went to the finals last year,” Coach Lambert said of the Stars. “They’ve got a number of their players playing for them right now that played in the playoff run for them last year. We know exactly how this series is going to be. This is going to be a grind and it’s going to be a chess match of detail. And I don’t think you can stress the five second rule enough in the game. We’re going to have to be aware of every shift every second of the game. It’s going to be a challenge, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Today’s game featured a lot of ice time from the ATO players who dressed, including lots of minutes from Cory Conacher, Michael Latta, Taylor Beck, and Ben Ryan. Conacher had two power play goals, and Beck and Latta had an assist in the contest.
The Admirals were graced with four power plays in the first period, and were able to convert on two of them. With three seconds left on a two-man-advantage, Ryan Thang scored again (he was the hero last night, if you recall). While falling down just to left of the crease, his backhander beat Jordan Pearce.
On another power play, the Griffins went on a shorthanded breakaway thanks to some sloppy play by Admirals defencemen, and Grant Lewis took down Ilari Filppula to prevent the goal. Referee Koharski signaled for the penalty shot right away, but Filppula whiffed on his attempt.
Conacher scored his first power play goal with 3:21 left in the first period. There was a lot of passing and not a lot of shooting going on in this power play, but Conacher received a return pass at the top of the slot, and his shot beat beat Pearce, with a little help from a Ryan Flynn screen.
The Griffins got a power play goal of their own in the second period, as Chris Minard was in the right place to gobble up the rebound of a Logan Pyett shot. The puck just slid right to where Minard was standing, and Atte Engren couldn’t get back into position to make that save.
5:41 into the 3rd period, Conacher got his second goal, but it was the vision of Taylor Beck that made the play. Andreas Thuresson’s shot from the far boards was saved by Pearce. Beck claimed the rebound next to the far post, and slid a quick pass to Conacher on the other side of the crease for the easy goal.
“He’s a guy that got handed to our affiliate in Cincinnati,” Coach Lambert said. “(Head coach) Jarrod Skalde made a call, and recommended he come in and play here. And that’s a very professional move. He just felt he could play, and I think he’s getting better every game. He’s got speed, he’s got smarts, he’s got skill, and he competes. There are still things that he needs to learn, but I thought he played an outstanding game, and he’s got a lot of talent. I hope we can continue to build on that.”
Brett Palin had a goal-line to goal-line empty netter with 6.6 seconds left in the game, off a defensive zone face-off win by Michael Latta.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS:
Lines started this way:
Thang – Mueller – Bourque
Thuresson – Van Guilder – Conacher
Flynn – Bartlett – Ryan
Santorelli – Latta – Beck
Laakso was a healthy scratch. Van Guilder missed a good chunk of the game, and was limping around a bit afterwards. Coach said he’ll be fine.
Grand Rapids had four power plays. Jeff Foss was responsible for three of them.
Conacher has three goals and two assists in his five games with the Admirals so far. He’s on an ATO, so if we do get some players back from the Preds, he’ll still be able to play, instead of just hanging out ‘in residence’.
Here’s a summation of the season from the Coach, explaining how we were able to get to this point:
“I just think our guys are resilient, and we have a good group of guys that work hard every day, whether it be in games or in practices. We’re like everybody else, we make our mistakes and we have our peaks and valleys, but we have a really good leadership group and we have a really good group of young character players that come to the rink every day to work hard.”
Pretty good summary?
So we’re going to get to know the Texas Stars pretty quickly. They had our number during the regular season…. does that change how optimistic or pessimistic you are about the upcoming series?