The Admirals lost 3-2 against the Iowa Wild Wednesday night. It took thirty-seconds for the Wild to get on the board tonight. Despite a brief Admirals lead in the second period, courtesy of Mike Liambas, it would be answered and bettered from the visitors. It is the Wild’s first win in five games. And their first win since the last time they played the Admirals, in Milwaukee, on Wednesday night.
“They played good,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of the Iowa Wild. “We struggled getting pucks to the net. Getting pucks through. They blocked shots. They played a real good game. Give them more credit than giving our group negativity.”
In the last meeting between these two it was the Wild picking up the opening goal in the first three minutes of the game. Tonight it took them only thirty-seconds. Danny Syvret’s blast from the left point elevated all the way to the inside post of Marek Mazanec and beat him off the crossbar and down.
The rest of the first period was really well managed from the Wild. The brightest spot for the Admirals in the opening twenty may have been Anthony Bitetto plowing Zack Phillips through a pane of glass. The Wild forward was racing in on the forecheck when Bitetto polished him off. The glass didn’t shatter but the pane was knocked loose.
Hits kept coming from there and, after Johan Gustafsson was clipped around his cage, we saw a fight between Mike Liambas and Curt Gogol. This was of course in response to the goalie getting knocked over and the refs let this battle drag on a bit. Give the win to Liambas for at least getting the hat off his opponent – but I don’t think all that many punches landed flush.
In the second period, during a spell of one-minute and twenty seconds, there were two goals scored for the Admirals and an equalizing tally for the Wild to knot the game at 2-2.
Mike Liambas scored a rebounder after Rich Clune dinked a puck around the front of the Wild cage. Liambas had Gustafsson in scramble mode and he was nowhere close to stop the Admiral bruiser from popping in a backhander.
Liambas and Clune linked up again only forty-two seconds later. Clune delivered a perfect saucer pass to the center lane drive of Liambas. He made the redirect of the Clune pass look easy and the puck skipped out of reach of Gustafsson’s glove side for Liambas’ second goal inside a minute’s worth of play.
“It happened so fast,” said Mike Liambas. “I was pretty excited. Great plays by Clune both times. And Joe Pendenza working it down low.”
Then came the response for the Wild only thirty-eight seconds later. Marc Hagel was able to fire a pass to Tyler Graovac in the slot. From there, it was all a matter of getting a shot on net as quickly as possible from that prime scoring position. Graovac did just that by spinning a shot off that managed to find a hole through Mazanec for his second goal of the season.
“Momentum was shifted and we did a couple of bonehead things to allow them right in,” said Evason. “We should just be tight there and get pucks deep. We’re trying to make an offensive play and it bites us.”
Iowa wasn’t finished with scoring in the second period, either. Zack Phillips was able to pop home a rebound after a point shot was coughed out to him by Mazanec. It was the Wild’s second goal scored in four-minutes and three seconds of ice time and Phillips’ third of the season.
Despite a late push for the Admirals in the third period, with the extra attacker on in the final fifty-eight seconds, the Wild held off for the 3-2 final. It’s the team’s first win under new head coach John Torchetti. It breaks a losing streak of five-games that dates back to the last time the Wild played in Milwaukee.
Ramblings: Tonight saw the return of Pontus Åberg to the Milwaukee Admirals lineup. The young Swede missed the Ads previous three games after a collision with Viktor Stalberg the last time the team played the Iowa Wild in Milwaukee on 10/29/14. The scratches tonight included Jonathan Diaby, Frederick Gaudreau, and Patrick Cehlin – who is still on the comeback trail after off-season hip surgery.
Any concerns from the team losing to the Iowa Wild twice in a row at home now? Is this more a matter of the Wild winning than the Admirals losing? What do you make of Marek Mazanec’s performance tonight? Would you give him the net against the Rockford IceHogs this weekend? Is the AHL schedule, and the lack of games played to this point, hurting the Admirals form?