Admirals Open Season With 4-1 Win

The road success for the Milwaukee Admirals has carried over to the new year and the new roster.  Ryan Thang had two goals including the eventual game winner, and the Admirals won their 17th straight regular season road game, defeating the Peoria Rivermen 4-1 on Saturday night.

Box score here, Admirals recap here, Rivermen blog recap here.

Jeremy Smith made 22 saves on 23 shots for the victory.

Coach Muller (I typed “Lambert” in at first….I’ll get used to it) said he thought the team stayed true to the game plan.

Peoria got on the board first at 9:06 of the first period.  Admiral nemesis Brett Sterling welcomed himself back to the Western Conference by deflecting a Danny Syvret shot from the point amidst a lot of traffic in front of Smith.  It was a power play goal that came just after a 5-on-3 power play ended.

Michael Latta was awarded a penalty shot at 15:45 after a hook from behind foiled a breakaway.  On the penalty shot attempt, Latta came in slow, flinched to fake a wrister, went to his forehand, and beat Jake Allen five-hole.

The ice conditions were a problem (it was 85 degrees in Peoria today), and both teams had some issues with puck control.  As the first period was concluding, a Riverman forward took a pass out of their defensive zone, but couldn’t control it, and ended up playing it back IN to the defensive zone.  A few seconds later, Victor Bartley had a shot from the point that hit iron, but Ryan Thang put the rebound past Allen with 1:04 left in the period.

After a scoreless second period, the Admirals stretched their lead to 3-1, with a Jusso Puustinen goal.  But the major credit on the play goes to Jani Lajunen.  Despite Rivermen D-man Mark Cundari having position in the neutral zone, Lajunen went around him, stripped him on the puck, and led a rush back into the offensive zone.  He found Puustinen in the slot for the goal that Coach Muller said was the turning point of the game.

Ryan Thang scored an empty-netter with 1:30 left in the game.


Thang – Mueller – Bourque
Wilson – Lajunen – Puustinen
Champagne – Van Guilder – Beck
Cahill – Latta – Flynn

Ellis – Sloan
Bartley – Ford
Foss – Valentine

Coach Muller says he got contributions from all of his lines.

That line of TJ Hensick, Brett Sterling, and Jonathan Cheechoo….lots of offensive talent.  They can try to be too cute at times, and they can be a little slow back into the d-zone.  The only Admiral goal they weren’t on the ice for was the penalty shot.  They all finished -3 on the night.  Here’s how Coach Muller prepared for that line.

Biggest change in this game compared to last year:  there was no sign of the prevent-defense.  They weren’t playing to hold on the lead.  The Admirals played hard the whole game.  They outshot the Rivermen 30-23 overall, and 11-6 in the 3rd period.  This is very encouraging.

Lajunen and Puustinen have some great chemistry together already, and Kyle Wilson had some great chances on that line too.

Jeff Foss….looked miles better than the way he played at his ATO at the end of last year.

Atte Engren dressed as Jeremy Smith’s backup.  Chet Pickard didn’t.  Don’t know if we should read anything into that, but you can if you want to.

New referee….Graham Skilliter.  Or as he’ll be known as for the rest of the year, Graham Skeletor.

OK Roundtable — whether you made the trip to Peoria, or made the trip to Buck Bradley’s, or made the trip to your radio to listen to Aaron, what did you think of the first game?  Which line did you think was best?  Who are you excited to see more of?  

12 thoughts on “Admirals Open Season With 4-1 Win”

  1. Really liked the lines. Maybe switch mvg and latta. Puustinen, Lajunen wilson line will be fun to watch. Of course Bourque, Mueller Thang is always a good thing.

  2. Per Aaron Sims Twitter yesterday:

    Scott Ford is captain. Alternates are Tyler Sloan & Ryan Thang on road, Chris Mueller & Kyle Wilson at home.

  3. I think the Finnish Express line will be great the further along we go. I’m not as in love with them as I was in Klasen to start the year, but I think the 2 will feed off each other really well, and expect big things as long as they are together. Actually, I feel the same about Beck and Latta. They’ve been playing together a few years now, and I think once they get used to playing the pro game, we can expect pretty solid work out of them too. Obviously the Thang, Mueller, Borque line is going to be our top line as long as we can keep them together…..can we have a contest to pick a name for that line? So with that line, the Finnish Express, and the Twitterazzi (put Slaney with Latta and Beck) we might have 3 solid lines to roll on a nightly basis.

    I just listened to the game, but I see good things down the line for Bartley.

    I really like that we kept the foot down on the gas pedal, thats exciting.

  4. Love that the Peoria newspaper throws up a youtube video of game highlights…

    REALLY liked Latta’s move on the penalty shot goal…but holy crap, the Lajunen made me feel tingly inside…

  5. Really liked what I saw in person last night.

    Sketchy start but Latta’s goal got the train moving. Not an overly physical game but a lot of nice stick work, poke checks takeways etc. The offense could be a real surprise this season. They look creative and willing to shoot from just about anywhere.

    Smitty was sharp.

  6. Thanks for posting the video highlights.

    Other bits I liked from the Peoria newspaper recap…

    The opening line: “The Peoria Rivermen went into opening night as a mismatch favorite over the Milwaukee Admirals on paper.” Really? A mismatch favorite based on what?

    “The Admirals skated off with a 2-1 lead with 64 seconds left in the period when defenseman Scott Ford’s drive from the high slot deflected off the post and right to Ryan Thang…”. I guess the official scorer just didn’t want to give Fordo the assist on that one then…or maybe Fordo didn’t really shoot it? Maybe?

    And this quote from Sterling, who did an intermission interview on the video board topless with just a towel around his neck. “A good start is only part of the game,” Sterling said. “We didn’t finish. We made some mistakes. Milwaukee played well, but it’s more about what we didn’t do than what they did.” Sheesh….. I didn’t miss him at all last year……

  7. Quick thought on your post about the opening line of the Peoria story …

    I think the point Eminian was trying to make was Peoria/St. Louis went out and signed a few guys that have had tremendous success in the past. Sterling and Cheechoo and Syvret added to a few guys like Hensick coming back from last year … those guys have had more (combined) success in their careers than anyone on the Admirals (or Aeros, or Stars or Rampage or IceHogs…)

    There are VERY high expectations in Peoria this year, and I think they are justified … yes, on paper, I too think Peoria is the best team in the West …

    But “on paper” don’t mean squat.

  8. Thanks for the comment Andrew. Yeah, I imagined that’s where he was coming from… And to your point regarding paper = squat — I think Oklahoma City helped prove that last year. With the veteran talent on that team, they were supposed to run away with it, and instead were just good enough to be the crossover.

    Encouraged by our first game…but I know there’s a long way to go. And as bad as Peoria was this weekend, they’ve got plenty of time to right their ship. But Sterling is going to give them bouts of joy and frustration over the course of the season.

  9. Brett Sterling has scored 5 more NHL goals in his 5 seasons as a pro player than I have. He is a career minor leaguer so far. He was AHL rookie of the year for 2006-07 and he is still playing in the AHL in 2011-12. Danny Syvret has 3 NHL and 23 AHL goals in 6 pro seasons split between the two leagues. The Admirals get this almost every year from the Wolves. Of course, they hire guys like Al Secord, Rob Brown and Fred Brathwaite.

    “I do not fear your jihad.” – Menachem Begin

  10. “Lajunen and Puustinen have some great chemistry together already”

    They played on the same team back in Finland in 08-09 and 09-10. Could explain it.

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