After 13 points in seven games, Wednesday night was a head-scratcher for Milwaukee as Lake Erie frustrated the Ads for the fourth time this season.
Sami Aittokallio stopped all 33 shots he faced leading the Monsters to a 1-0 win at the Bradley Center. As good as he was (and he was really, really good) the Ads had a lot of opportunities that they just couldn’t capitalize on.
Milwaukee outshot Lake Erie 33-19 and Magnus Hellberg stood on his head for a few great saves, but it simply wasn’t enough.
A Paul Carey redirection off a slapper from Luke Walker gave the Monsters the only goal they needed 7:10 into the contest. From then on the story of the game was missed chances from the Ads and stellar saves from Aittokallio.
Dean Evason talked about the Ads struggles to light the lamp, and the speed of Lake Erie’s defense.
Before Carey’s goal, Michael Latta had a couple of good chances to give Milwaukee the early lead. He took a pass right in front and tried to hack home the one-timer and then the rebound, but Aittokallio stood tall.
Later Michael Liambas had a bad pass sail out of the offensive zone and Lake Erie would score on that possession.
At the 15:55 mark came the first of five power play opportunities that the Ads couldn’t use to their advantage. After Walker went to the box for interference, Aittokallio made a great glove save to keep Milwaukee off the board.
After that penalty expired, Mattias Ekholm was called for elbowing and it took a fantastic save from Hellberg as the period ended to keep Milwaukee down just one goal.
It looked like the Monsters would make it a 2-0 deficit early into the second period, but upon review a potential goal was waved off. Though no penalty was called, replays showed that Vincent Arseneau clearly shoved Daniel Bang into Magnus Hellberg, taking him out of position for the ensuing shot.
After getting help out by the replay, they got another PP chance with Andrew Agozzino in the box for hooking. The Ads couldn’t score, however, and the period ended with the puck clanging around the posts at least twice before the final buzzer sounded.
The Ads continued to have good entries into the offensive zone in the third period, but they yielded no results on the scoreboard.
Agozzino went to the box again for interference at the 4:22 mark, but the most impressive play of the PP came from Ryan Ellis on defense.
Ellis, who played his first game since being sent back down to Milwaukee Monday, stayed with Mike Connolly on a one-on-one breakaway and shut down the shorthanded scoring chance.
On a later power play, Ellis fired a hard slapper that Aittokallio turned away. Later in the possession, Aittokallio was able to cover the puck just before Joshua Shalla could get to it, after it bounced off the boards and ended up at the left side of the net.
Bang had one of the best chances of the night with about seven minutes to play. He had the puck come to him all alone on a rush, but Aittokallio came up huge to make the save with his right leg.
A Brad Winchester penalty for elbowing was killed off with just one minute remaining, and with Hellberg on the bench, the Ads couldn’t get the puck in the net. An icing call with 19.7 ticks left all but sealed the deal, as the Ads couldn’t get it out of their zone.
Smith looked good again, leading the Ads with six shots. Latta put five on net while Winchester and Mark Van Guilder each had four.
Winchester played the final game of his 25-game PTO contract, and a decision will be made soon about his future. He had little to say about it.
Evason said he’s selfishly hoping Winchester will stay an Admiral.
The coach said his team came out a “little flat” in defense of its seven-game point streak, and didn’t know if it had anything to do with how the streak had recently played out.
What was Milwaukee’s problem with Lake Erie this season, and what did you notice this game that ended the point streak?
What did you think of Ryan Ellis’ return? Will it keep the Ads’ playoff hopes burning even brighter?
Do you think we’ll see Winchester in an Ads jersey again? How do you think his possible departure would impact the team?