The Admirals lost 3-1 against the Iowa Wild Friday night. It was another grinding effort from a visiting team that minimized Ads scoring chances and walked out with a win. It is now the third-straight home loss for the Ads.
“It’s such a hard game to get the pucks back in today’s game because there is no clutching, grabbing, hooking, holding,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “So, once you have the puck, let’s hang onto it a little bit until we get a real good scoring chance. If you just throw it away most teams are collapsing to the front of the net and you’re not going to get pucks to the net if you just throw it there. That was an area of concern for us here and as of late.”
After both enjoyed some time away from the rink during the AHL All Star break the start to this game was always going to be a question mark. Fast? Slow? One better than the other? In truth, both sides came out of the gate fairly slowly – as if to play a mistake free opening period.
The Wild did manage to fire more shots to the net in the opening period, 14-7, but one in particular stung. A smooth entry into the attacking zone for the Wild put the puck on Kyle Medvec’s stick. He passed over to the left wing where Jim McKenzie was breaking in and took his shot first time. His blast beat Marek Mazanec high to the glove-side to give the Wild a first period lead. For McKenzie that was his third goal of the season.
We did have a bout in the second period and it was brewed from some first period antics. The combination of Mathieu Tousignant and Mike Liambas weren’t shying away from the verbal side of the game. After a good whack against Tousignant – Liambas and Curt Cogol dropped the gloves. It didn’t last long. Not many blows it flesh – mainly the helmets took all the good ones – but it was a high charged little scrap. Both wanted to get up and keep swinging. The refs made sure that we’d not see it go any further… shame.
In the third period Erik Haula beat Joe Piskula in the neutral zone and carried all the way on the right wing for a goal. After skating by Piskula Haula had numbers and options with him – it became a three-on-one rush. He kept the puck, maintained a shooting position, and whipped a shot by Mazanec to make it a 2-0 Wild lead.
The Admirals were able to get on the board courtesy of another one-time slapper by Filip Forsberg on the power-play. Bryan Rodney slid a pass into Forsberg’s wheelhouse and his shot just about bowled Iowa netminder John Curry over. It’s the Swede’s seventh-goal of the season and his fifth scored from the power-play.
Then came a real backbreaker. The Admirals get the goal to make it a 2-1 game with just over ten-minutes remaining. A mere twenty-five seconds after Forsberg’s goal the Wild blitzed through the Ads for a response. It was a beautiful effort from Haula to generate his second goal of the game – and eleventh of the season.
“We struggled to find scoring chances,” said Evason. “Then you get one. You want to continue that momentum. Certainly that goal hurt us. We should have had more scoring chances earlier and didn’t.”
With twenty-eight seconds left on the clock the Ads did have a desperation chance in the form of a penalty shot. Corbin Baldwin closed his hand on the puck while behind Curry in the crease – resulting in the officials’ decision for the penalty shot. Taylor Beck was the man up to take it… skated in wide from the left wing… moved to the slot… and his wrister was stopped with a left pad save.
“We need to simplify our game,” said Evason after the game. “Simplified doesn’t mean brain dead and just throwing pucks away. You need to simplify your game as far as short passes, putting them into areas where you could get pucks back, get pucks through to the net.”
Ramblings: Marek Mazanec made his twelfth-consecutive start for the Admirals tonight. In that span he has gone (4-4-1-3). Bryan Rodney returned to the Admirals lineup for his first game since Feb. 1 vs. Grand Rapids. He had been out of the lineup due to the birth of his first child (a baby girl). Scott Darling, reassigned by the Admirals today to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL, did make a start for Cinci. He made thirty-five saves, including five-of-seven in the shootout, to earn a win in his return to game action.
What do you feel is wrong with the offense recently? What needs to change? And can they solve the problem in time for tomorrow’s game in Chicago?