It may have been Milwaukee’s third game in three days, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the speed of Sunday’s 4-3 home win over Hamilton.
The Bulldogs came out offensively at a rabid pace, but the Admirals were able to answer without much problem.
After a day of rest, Jeremy Smith made 18 saves in the first period alone, three of those coming on a key penalty kill in the final few minutes. Smitty finished with 28 saves in a performance that Coach Dean Evason likened to Magnus Hellberg’s last night.
After Hamilton controlled the flow for the first five minutes of the game, the Admirals fought back. Chris Mueller threw a couple of good chances on net, but it was Taylor Beck who broke through.
Beck got the puck on a rebound and dragged it around in front, trying to deke starter Cedrick Desjardins out. When the goalie held form, Beck found himself behind the net again but, thinking quickly, threw the puck towards an oblivious Morgan Ellis. It bounced right off the defenseman’s leg and right behind Desjardins to put the Ads up 1-0.
At 5:46 of the second period, Kevin Henderson got a similar break to the one he got on Friday’s overtime game-winner.
Mueller moved in on net from the right, but fanned on his shot as it kicked off the defender in front of him. With the puck flying backward and Desjardins badly out of position, Henderson was right on top of it and sent it into the wide open net.
With a 2-0 lead Milwaukee was sitting pretty just after the halfway mark, but after Juuso Puustinen missed a pass from Charles-Olivier Roussel, Antoine Corbin fired a quick slapper that came to Joonas Jarvinen in front of Smith.
Jarvinen couldn’t handle and steer it away and instead directed it into Milwaukee’s net cutting Hamilton’s deficit in half.
Having blown four leads in their last five games heading into Sunday, holding on was a big key for the Admirals. They got a quick answer when Mark Van Guilder made it a two-goal lead again just two minutes later.
After Michael Latta fired a shot from the slot, MVG looked routine as he followed up on the rebound and put it past Desjardins.
But the Bulldogs weren’t done. 46 seconds into the third period, Jarred Tinordi fired a long slapper from near the blue line that found its way through traffic and beat Smith. There wasn’t much the goalie could’ve done as the puck appeared to skitter off a stick or skate at some point during flight.
The Admirals had the answer again at 6:49 on a play that looked pretty from the onset.
Van Guilder took a pass from Taylor Beck in the far corner and held it a while to draw a defender. Then MVG quickly fired it back out to a waiting and open Victor Bartley who’s blazing slapper beat Desjardins thanks to a nice screen by Latta.
Bartley was quick to credit the other working pieces on the play.
For the second time, the Admirals had regained their cushion promptly after giving it up which Evason said made a big difference.
After a Jon Blum pass was intercepted by Brendon Nash, he took it down into the Ads’ zone and slid a beautiful pass to a crashing Gabriel Dumont. who flipped the puck over Smith’s head and into the net with 6:48 left.
Evason saw the goal as an avoidable mistake, but again credited his team for rolling with it.
From then on the Admirals were able to close it out, holding on and keeping up with a fresher team that they hadn’t seen yet this year. While that would seem like quite a testament to the team’s stamina, Bartley was very matter-of-fact about finishing off the busy weekend.
Evason didn’t believe another 0-3 performance on the power play was due to a lack of good opportunities despite having to work around a tight Hamilton PK.
Evason said Gabriel Bourque missed the game after re-aggravating his previous knee injury but doesn’t expect it to be anything too serious. Jani Lajunen was back on the ice after missing time Friday and Saturday with illness.
MVG commented on lining up against a familiar face in Zack Stortini for the first time.
Four points in three back-to-back-to-back is a nice feat. Did the Admirals get through the stretch the way you anticipated or did they over-perform in your eyes?
Was it wierd seeing Storts in another jersey?
Coach likes the healthy competition between Smith and Hellberg as it looks like it’s making both goalies better. What do you make of it?