Bourque Ties It, Thang Wins It In OT

Earlier in the week, it was the Stars that sent a game to OT with a last minute goal, and eventually winning it in the extra period.

Tonight, it was the Admirals with that storyline.  Gabriel Bourque tied it with 4.4 seconds left in the third period, and Ryan Thang fired a laser into the top left corner of the net with 3:31 left in the overtime period.

“That was a good hockey game by both teams, really,” Coach Lambert said after the game.  “Obviously, both teams could have won the game and we managed to turn the tables on them a little bit with some late game heroics and get that one back.  The ‘wow’ for me wasn’t so much the result, it was more the game itself.  That was one of the best hockey games I’ve seen in a long long time.”

Those two shots by Bourque and Thang spoiled a magnificent performance by Stars goaltender Richard Bachman, who stopped 36 of 38 Milwaukee shots, with many of them quality scoring chances.

Jeremy Smith was no slouch either, as he stopped 40 of 41 shots on the night — a career high in saves.  The only one that got by him was a power play goal midway through the first period.   A shot went off of Philip Larsen, off Roman Josi, and bounced right to Raymond Sawada in front of the net.  He finished the play, and has been arguably the best skater for the Stars this season.

Here’s Coach on Smitty.

“I thought he played good, I thought he made a number of terrific saves to keep the score at 1-0, and allow us an opportunity to come back, and that’s what he did — he gave us a chance to come back.”

Gabriel Bourque scored his fifth of the playoffs with just 4.4 seconds left in the game.  Positioned in front of the crease, he received an end zone feed from Chris Mueller, kicked it to his forehand, and then lifted it over Bachman.

“He did that in game one too, on the goal he scored late in the second period,” Coach reminded us.  “He’s got quick hands quick feet and good skills, and he showed that on that last goal.”

On their way to the locker rooms (the teams don’t have an exit from their benches….the Stars leave through the corner, and the visitors from directly behind the net on that end), Kelsey Wilson and Brenden Dillon collected fighting majors, and there was mutual pushing and shoving along the boards, as both teams were on the ice.  Captains of both teams were in there pulling their guys away from the scrum, but it was only Wilson and Dillon that collected penalties.

In the OT period, the teams alternated stretches of some pretty good momentum, but about midway through the period, the ice seemed to be tilted towards Bachman.

Ryan Thang led a 3-on-2 rush, and the defender gave him the open lane to shoot.  So he did.  It was a slapper from the top of the near face-off circle, and it beat Bachman over his right shoulder.

“I’ve been trying to look for passes most of the series, and tonight I showed up to the rink (saying) I’m going to be a shooter,” Thang said after the game.  “Bachman is obviously a great goalie and he’s been seeing a lot of shots, stopping a lot of shots and making some great saves.  Tonight I was pulling the trigger even if guys were in the lane, hoping to get some through.  Obviously, Van Guilder made a great play, it was a 3-on-2 rush.  The D kind of stayed with Van Guilder and it cleared up the lane for me.  Coach has been stressing all week that if you’ve got a lane, you got to shoot the puck.  I was fortune to get one past Bachman — it doesn’t happen very often.”



Wilson – Bartlett – Thuresson
Conacher – Van Guilder – Thang
Bourque – Mueller – Beck
Flynn – Latta – Begin

Santorelli, Hunter, and Ryan were scratched.

The Stars were 1-4 on the power play, the Admirals were 0-4.

Wilson looked pretty good, and certainly agitated the Stars over the course of the game.

Thuresson got his first shots on goal for the series.  But his highlight of the game was checking Mathieu Tousignant over and into the Admirals bench.  Earlier in the game, Tousignant put a huge check/charge on/into Scott Ford that went uncalled, so it was nice justice.

Bourque said after the game that it was the most important goal he’s ever scored.

Smitty has been playing great.  If Dex gets healthy, is he automatically the #1 guy again, or do you dance with the guy that brought you here?

Is Bourque punching his ticket to Nashville for next season?

How loud did it get at Goolsby’s when Bourque scored?

So the Admirals will return home with a 3 games to 2 lead in the series.  What do the Admirals need to do to finish off this Stars team on Monday?

23 thoughts on “Bourque Ties It, Thang Wins It In OT”

  1. I like those lines!

    Smith has been playing great. Minus a few bad rebounds. Unless he has a breakdown i think they should stick with him. Hes earned it.

    Bourque is definately going to Nashville next season. May start in MKE but i think he will fit in, work hard and earn a spot. Trotz has already commented that he is looking forward to him.

  2. At least for this series, the net is Smith’s from here on out. He is playing to well and the Admirals seem to have confidence in him. At this point in their careers, Mark Dekanich is the better goaltender, and he has no bigger supporter than me, but it’s not like Dekanich played a bunch of games late in the season and the injury was not a minor setback.

    He has to be at 100% in practice both in health and competitiveness before you even think about putting him back in, especially in a series where the intensity level point as it has in Games 3-5. Game 6 back in Milwaukee will be must see puck!

    As great as Chris Mueller is playing, Gabriel Bourque is Milwaukee’s best player right now. What a find for Nashville in the 5th round and how did everyone else miss out on him?

  3. As a Stars fan at the game tonight, it was all grind, although the Ads showed more offensive creativity. Both goalies made brilliant saves. My impression is that Smith is more rebound-prone on low shots, so I don’t quite get why we’re not crashing the net on him.

    As for Tousi’s check, he did leave his feet and throttled the Ads player, not sure how that wasn’t called, but Stars fans hoping for a call when Tousi went into the Ads bench weren’t going to get it: A) the hit on Tousi was clean, even the follow-through, and B) the refs weren’t buying Tousi’s attempts to dress up his inability to escape the bench.

    I thought the refs did a mediocre job, but they did it equally. As I mentioned on our FB page, the refs had nothing to do with us losing that game, we lost it on our own and y’all won it on your own.

  4. Wow! The Ads and Preds has similar finishes to their games tonight! Smithson had the OT goal for the Preds. Ads shake their groove Thang in the Stars faces!

  5. Bonander — thanks for sharing and thank you for the thoughtful comment. It has absolutely been a grind, and I think we’re all being treated to a great series. All three games in Texas could have gone either way with an extra bounce in one team’s favor.

    Your coach is going to have them ready to play on Monday. I expect the tone to be set early, and I expect another entertaining hockey game.

  6. Playing the Admirals has been a highlight all season. Like this series, those games could have gone either way. Bourque’s last-second goal was as deflating a moment as I’ve ever attended at a hockey game, it was worse than Giroux scoring in OT against us in game 5 of the Finals last season (which he did – like Thang tonight – directly in front of our seats). Dallas brass was in attendance tonight, including Joe Nieuwendyk. I’d like to say that Texas has always failed to get themselves up for big games like this, but that wouldn’t fly tonight. They were up and played hard. I don’t think Stars fans quite realize that we’re going toe-to-toe with one of the top three teams in the AHL. Because of the season series we might be expecting more than we should. By the way where’s Klasen? He was announced as a scratch tonight, I figured he was up with Nashville.

  7. Klasen’s been out for a while with a concussion, we may get him back next round (assuming we get that far). The only guys we have in Nashville on our clear day roster are Geoffrion, Halischuk, and Blum I believe.

  8. Great for Jonathan Blum; we saw him a couple times this season in Austin but I’m glad to hear he’s up with Nashville. As a former California ice hockey player myself (back in the late 80s that is) it’s nice to see a semi-local make good.

    Hey, aside from the obvious association, is there any ‘other’ reason why the Ads wear the Brewers’ patch on the jerseys and not something Predators-related?

  9. The Brewers are actually a major sponsor of the team. The Admirals ownership group includes some of the Brewers ownership group, and I think until recently, Ben Sheets even owned part of the Admirals too. I like seeing the retro Brewers logo on the sweater more than I would like to see the golden arches or something like that.

    Thanks again for reading.

  10. Hmmm, sounds like a song:

    The stars at night, are big and bright
    shining down on the Admirals…..

    The way the overtime period was played is exactly how they need to come out on Monday. Bourque’s goal not only kept them in the game, it lit a fire and set it on high. The pressure they put on the Stars defense and Bachman was great to watch.

    Smitty has shown that he has the ability to handle things. He’s not perfect, but he’s very capable. At this point in time, I think he’s earned the spot he’s in, and wouldn’t make changes.

    Bourque has proven to be a huge asset, not only to the Ads, but to the whole organization. It will be a sad day (not to him) when he gets the call-up and we send him off to Nashville. But it is well deserved, as he has a full set of skills to propel him in the major league. Vas-y, Gabriel!!

    If we could only get Thuresson back to where he was prior to this season. He’s gotten more physical this year, even pushing to the brink of a fight, which would never have happened in the past. But that seems to have come at the cost of overall effectiveness. But the dump over the wall last night was bloody hilarious, including the circus act of Tousignant getting back on the ice.

  11. What a great game by both teams. Smith earned the starts and Dex will be rusty. I stick with Smith unless something changes. He played a superb game and gave up less rebounds. Bachman played superb as well and doesn’t give up the bounces, but gave two goals to Smith’s one.

    Bourke has been awesome and when he keeps up the intensity, its rubs off on the rest of the team and everyone notches up a level. The Ads line up was a good one, I think I’d stick with it for G6. Maybe I’d swap Flynn for Ryan or Hunter. This game didn’t have the flury of penalties that’s has plagued the Ads in the series and that was a huge relief. Keeping up the intensity while killing 8 penalties is a bit much.

    G6 to the Ads if we get a couple of 1st period goals to shake Bachman, else we have to keep penalties down and need a repeat performance from Smith and even then we can’t give up the puck and give one away. The Ads could really use closing it out in 6.

  12. What a heck of a game, listened to sims on the a.m. at home last nite and wow what a finish! Hope we can finish them off monday. As for smith and the playoffs I think let him go until he has a bad outing. He played well in the echl playoff last year I say let him ride as far as he can. In the big picture he’s our # 1 next season might as well get enough expirence as possible.

  13. Bonander, thanks but I don’t think the Ads are a top 3 team. Top 5 or 6 maybe. If they catch fire they could move up. The big problem is not seeing the other conference. I can’t believe that the WBS Pens are down 3 games to 2.

    I believe that Texas is a better team than their record. Playing in the finals last year and having half the team back counts for a lot.

  14. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are now up 3 games to 2 on Norfolk. The Baby Pens did lose the first two games at home but have won every game since in that series. The big surprise is Charlotte and Hershey. The Checkers have won the last two games and now lead 3-2 in the series and can eliminate the Bears.

  15. The Ads finished the season with 102 points. That puts them 3rd behind WBS (117) and Portland (103)

  16. Myself, I judge teams on wins instead of points. Milwaukee finished the season tied for 5th (with four other AHL teams) with 44 wins. Therefore, they are a top-9 team.

    Wilkes-Barre (58), Portland (47), Houston (46), Hershey (46)
    Milwaukee, Hamilton, Cleveland, Charlotte, Manchester (44)

    Note – for awhile in February and March, Wilkes-Barre’s top 7 (!!) scorers were in the NHL at the same time as Pittsburgh dealt with a bunch of injuries… and W-B still rolled along without a hiccup.

    Losing shouldn’t be rewarded in the standings. 14 of the 15 Western teams finished over “.500”. That is a cream puff benchmark in today’s hockey standings, but it’s one that’s mentioned countless times by the media as some kind of accomplishment.

  17. Adsfan:
    I hear you, but I do think that we kind of breathed a sigh of relief when we drew the Ads- in part because of the season series (the results of which were deceptive) and in part because of our dismal showing against Houston this season. Consequently our expectations are higher than they should be.

    As for last season, the two biggest losses for us were Dan Jancevski- AHL lifer, but he played every situation, against the top lines, the guy was a machine – and of course the one element we lacked all season until the playoffs– a finisher. A true scorer. Jamie Benn. Prior to his arrival on the clear day roster we scored by committee. We’re doing it again this season. We were hoping Travis Morin or Greg Rallo or Gagnon would step up, but the only one doing that is Bourque. I noticed that Bourque’s month-to-month production was low until February and March, when suddenly he’s putting up 9, 10 points. We backed into the playoffs, losing 5 of 6, not even scoring in our final two games.

    My point is that the Ads earned the top seed in the West, and we earned ours such as it is. I do believe that we can take games 6 and 7 in Milwaukee- more improbable things have happened. But watch our 3-on-2 rushes; the same uninspired thing happens every time, leading to a shot that Smith should block in his sleep. Ultimately we’re hesitating- at the point, on the PP, everywhere. Compare that to Bourque’s GTG last night- skate to stick and over Bachman’s shoulder- Milwaukee’s playing on the hockey instincts that got each of these guys to the AHL. We’re thinking about things.

    The three games we had to send shadows out every time Bourque and Mueller’s line hit the ice, are gone. Between the two of them they have scored two thirds of your goals. Against Hershey last year in games 1 and 2, we deliberately shut down the Giroux/Aucoin line. By 2nd period of game 3, Hershey wised up and demoted Giroux to the second line. They exploded for five goals that game and we never caught up. I don’t see Gully making those adjustments.

    All that said, having gone to hockey games for 30 years, game 3 was about as thrilling and sensational a game I’ve ever been to. And game 5, about as demoralizing and depressing. That’s playoff hockey.

    Didn’t you guys take Chicago to 7 last year after being down by 3? I imagine many of those guys are still around. Bodes well for you.

  18. Bonander-this discussion is great-thanks for coming over. Bourque did indeed have a slow start-really didn’t start coming on until a month or so ago. I would argue that pairing him up with Mueller once he came back from his stint with Nashville really lit a fire under him. The two have been money all spring. The thing that scares me, and perhaps other Ads fans is, we are literally riding one offensive line into this postseason. If Mueller, Bourque and Thang don’t score-it is slim pickins out there trying to find a goal scorer. We have the goaltending, we have great D but can we really win on the talent of just three forwards?

  19. In every Ads-Stars game, regular season and playoffs, one thing has been constant– score 3 goals and you will have won. May not always need 3, but it’s been enough. Klasen and Geoffrion approached averaging a goal per game for yall when they played, but no Texas Star, in our short history, has ever come very close. As many of our fans say in disgust, we play not to lose, waiting all game for a couple scoring ops that we don’t even have the snipers to bury. It’s no wonder guys like Matt Beaudoin and Garrett Stafford blew town in the summer- our system stifles offensive creativity. It could get worse this summer.

    So I guess my feeling is that one line– one line that’s clicking like every team hopes a line will in the playoffs– won’t get you to the Calder Cup, but it’s getting you through the first round. I noticed your team stats look a lot like ours– twenty guys have 20-40 points on the season (Klasen and Blake the exceptions) but you need guys to get hot this time of year, and Smith’s doing that, Bourque, Mueller, Thang. If you asked me who I thought Texas would send out to check that line, I’d say maybe Wathier, Sawada, and Tousi have the best chance at shutting them down. But I don’t think that’s what we’re doing. Frankly I don’t know what the **** we’re doing, and the concern is that no one else truly does either. Watch our power play Monday night– watch for the hesitation, for the lack of direction. 5-3 we’re a one-trick pony. 5-4 we’re like a scrimmage team thrown together to make something happen. It’s like, is no one running this stuff in practice?

    Again, I’ll go back to instincts. Last night’s final 3-2 rush, our back-checkers were left in the dust. Thang blew up the right side, Bachman came out to cut off the angle, and no second thought- Thang cranked it. Had he second-guessed that, maybe looked for a pass or held the puck too long, opportunity lost.

    Seems odd, but to me the difference in this series comes down to who’s trying to play hockey in their heads and who’s playing hockey in their arms and legs. In that yall have the advantage.

  20. Thanks Jason. Maybe I confused WBS with Hershey.

    MiB, points are nice, but those three teams didn’t play the same teams during the season. I don’t think that you can compare East versus West like that. I like Todd’s idea on the number of wins, but there is that darn East versus West schedule again. Interesting that his method puts the Ads in the 5 to 9 range.

    I am pleasantly surprised by the Admirals finding a new gear in the playoffs. THN and some other sources will rank teams according to a power index. I haven’t seen Milwaukee higher than fifth, but that could change.

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