The Admirals season officially came to an end tonight with a 2-0 shutout defeat against the Toronto Marlies Thursday night.
“Obviously the best game that we played in the whole series,” said Milwaukee Admirals assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on 1250 Sports Radio WSSP. “We had a couple of pretty good scoring chances. I thought the guys put it out there. There were some things that happened that were out of our hands tonight but, for the most part, we did a pretty good job today. We could have done some better things in games one and two that wouldn’t have put us in this position but, when you can’t score, they really shut us down.”
With their backs up against the wall it seemed as if the tight knit defense of the Marlies, combined with costly penalties from the Admirals, made tonight’s game three a grinder with little to no chance to score. It was the Admirals best performance of the playoffs when it needed to be. It still just wasn’t good enough to top the Marlies who will advance to the next round of the Calder Cup playoffs by completing tonight’s sweep.
Penalties were again an issue for the Admirals. After a good start to the first period they finished with two penalty kills that seemed to slow them down. The third penalty kill for the Admirals came late in the second period and resulted in the game’s opening goal. The Marlies passed themselves into space. When Jerry D’Amigo;s backdoor pass, post to post, hit the tape of Greg McKegg – it was going to be a power-play goal. Marek Mazanec was struggling to make the quick slide to his opposite post and the Marlies, for the third time in three games, had the first goal.
The penalties continued impacting the game for the Admirals. Miikka Salomaki took a high sticking call with 4:27 remaining in the game. With that penalty killed off and the final rush by the Ads being built up – Salomaki again went to the box. This time he went for boarding and it meant the rest of the game was going to be fought on the penalty kill.
Mazanec left his net with 1:09 remaining in the game to make it a five-on-five penalty killing situation for the Admirals. Trevor Smith was able to chase down a puck behind the empty net and cleared out to neutral ice. There he picked out T.J. Brennan who buried the puck into the empty net for a power-play goal that finished off the game, the series, and the 2013-14 Milwaukee Admirals season.
“We run into penalty trouble,” said Drulia. “When you’re killing back to back to back, have six minutes of kills in the last ten minutes of the hockey game, it’s a tough recipe for success. I thought the guys hung in there. They did a good job of battling.”
This was perhaps the best effort out of the Admirals in this series against Toronto. Despite all of the penalties they still outshot the Marlies 29-23 by the final horn. Credit to Drew MacIntyre who stopped all of those shots in tonight’s contest.
“I coached Drew a long time ago,” said Drulia. “He is a good goaltender. He battles. He doesn’t make the prettiest saves but he competes for every loose puck.”
The former-Admiral stopped 85/89 shots in this series for a 0.955 save percentage and a 1.33 goals against average. To the team that manages to figure out how to outbattle that Toronto defense in front of the net and the get pucks past MacIntyre – you’ll have earned yourself something as special as the 2014 Calder Cup.
Ramblings: There were some roster shuffling in regard to line combinations tonight for the Admirals forwards: Forsberg-Jarnkrok-Watson, Moser-Van Guilder-Beck, Salomaki-Sissons-Saponari, Liambas-Tousignant-Wathier. This meant Patrick Cehlin was a scratch in tonight’s contest. The defensive pairings remained the same as it was in the previous two games of the series. Scott Valentine, who has been out with an upper body injury, made his color commentary debut tonight alongside Aaron Sims on 1250 Sports Radio WSSP.
What are your thoughts from this series? Where did it all go wrong? Where did the Admirals composure go in this series?