Saturday should’ve been Michael Liambas’ special night. The recent Admirals acquisition celebrated his 23rd birthday yesterday, but an 8-2 loss to Charlotte wasn’t the best gift.
Fortunately, his time to blow out the candles came Sunday as Liambas scored the game-winner in the third period of Milwaukee’s 3-1 victory over Abbotsford. It was his first career AHL goal in just his sixth career AHL game.
Despite Juuso Puustinen’s calls for the puck, Liambas saw his shot and took it, a theme the Ads have been trying to stress recently. A grinning Puusty joked about it after the game.
“I was calling for it, saying pass to me, pass to me,” Puustinen said from the side during Liambas’ postgame interview. “But he wants to be the hero tonight. And I’m cool with that.”
The Admirals were more than happy to put last night’s loss behind them, returning to winning form Sunday against the Heat.
The victory was Milwaukee’s fourth in five games, keeping Dean Evason’s two out of three campaign alive and kicking.
It was another solid start for Magnus Hellberg after getting the rest Saturday night. He won his fourth in a row stopping 23 shots.
Evason was happy with Hellberg’s job at keeping it close, particularly in the third period.
The Ads were outshot 11-5 in the first 20 minutes, and Abbotsford tallied the first goal of the game late in the period. Tyler Ruegsegger fired a nice shot from the top of the right circle that Hellberg never really saw.
Kevin Henderson answered for Milwaukee 2:08 into the second period with his second goal in as many games and 12th of the season.
With Michael Latta behind the net, Barry Brust unwisely tried to play the puck. Latta was able to beat him out and feed it to Henderson in front of the empty net.
After Liambas’ goal at 8:02 of the third period, the Heat pulled Brust with about a minute and a half to play.
Abbotsford didn’t even get a shot on net with the extra attacker, as Taylor Beck gathered a clearing attempt and fired an absolute bullet from just behind the red line that trickled into the empty net.
After both Beck and Puustinen had been scratched from the lineup last night, Evason was pleased to have both players back today.
The penalties were there again for Milwaukee today, but fortunately so was the penalty kill. The Heat were held scoreless in six power play attempts and Evason felt the PK unit was much more agressive as a whole.
The Ads finished up the homestand 4-2 against some very tough opposition. Now comes a four-game road stretch with stops in Lake Erie, Toronto, Hamilton and Lake Erie again before they host Grand Rapids two Fridays from now.
Sunday’s big crowd helped bring in 22, 462 charity dollars in support of Milwaukee Children’s Hospital. Nice job, Admirals fans.
Coach was all about throwing out last night’s game and a game the next day certainly helped. What did you see that you didn’t see last night? What made the big difference?
The Ads have battled back to within striking distance of the eighth spot in the West with 27 games left. Did their performance over the homestand change your opinion of their postseason chances at all? Does two out of three seem more fathomable to you now?