The Admirals won 4-1 against the Hamilton Bulldogs Saturday night. This was a much improved performance for the Admirals who played a much more simple game tonight. They ended up outshooting the Bulldogs 31-16 and really controlled this game from start to finish.
“We’ve played pretty good the last four or five hockey games,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Hopefully this is a learning curve for all of us. A game that we can remember that not only did the right things but got rewarded for it. Some of the breaks, and good things that happened, were because we were playing the right way. We made those breaks and it feels good for sure.”
This contest started off with a fight four minutes into the first period. Rich Clune squared up with Bulldogs defenseman Greg Pateryn. As far as fights go – this wasn’t anything special. It was over quickly and ended with both falling to the ice.
The Admirals went through the entire month of December without scoring a power-play goal on home ice. Their last power-play goal was scored by Viktor Arvidsson back on 11/21/14. They then proceeded to go on a run of thirty-two straight chances without scoring on the man-advantage. That run finally ended tonight.
On the Admirals first power-play chance of the night they missed two clean cut chances from the right wing to score goals. Joe Pendenza on a backdoor shot that Joey MacDonald denied. And then Brendan Leipsic fanning on a one-timer. Fortunately for Pendenza he had a second chance. After Leipsic fed wing-to-wing for an Arvidsson one-timer the puck skipped in on goal and right to the net crashing Pendenza. He put away the garbage to score his sixth goal of the season and mercifully end the Admirals over month long power-play drought.
The Admirals started the second period with a four-on-three power-play chance. As their opportunity ended another scoring chance presented itself in the form of an odd man break. When Davis Drewiske’s diving poke check attempt at the blue line failed to disrupt the run of Leipsic it sent him on a two-on-one with Arvidsson. Leipsic passed over and Arvidsson had the finish to score his tenth goal of the season.
It would become 3-0 Admirals just two minutes later after Frédérick Gaudreau scored his fourth goal of the season. Taylor Aronson’s initial shot was ripped so hard that it managed to allude the glove of MacDonald and spill out in front of him. Gaudreau, similar to Pendenza earlier, was in the right place at the right time to capitalize on a loose puck.
Second period fireworks continued with the game’s second fight of the night. This was a heavyweight bout between Jonathan Diaby and Shane Bakker. This fight dragged on a little bit but both landed some clubbing blows to one another. I’d mark this an even ten for both in my fight card.
Triston Grant looked to be the most important person in the world in the eyes of Joe Finley tonight. The two were at it the majority of the game until they finally dropped the glove in the third period. It didn’t last that long. If anything, the initial trigger to the fight looked far worse. Finley had a small spear job to Grant before the veteran Admiral crosschecked the Bulldogs d-man into his own goaltender’s cage.
“I just wanted to go out and play hard,” said Triston Grant. “I gave him a couple of bumps early and just kind of two tough guys trying to go at it. I think I got under [Finley’s] skin halfway through the game.”
Zach Budish marked his 100th career game as a professional hockey player off with a superb goal in his return to the Milwaukee Admirals lineup. Mark Van Guilder had a good screen out in front of MacDonald but Budish’s shot was ripped high glove side on the near post. It’s Budish’s second goal for the Admirals this season.
“Every time we talk to Matt MacDonald in Cincinnati [Zach Budish] has played great,” said Evason. “He’s arguably the best forward down there. Doing all the right things. I didn’t even say hello to him until I got on the bench and I just said, “I heard you’re playing great. Don’t change.” And he didn’t. He played great.”
Midway through the third period the Bulldogs ended Marek Mazanec’s shutout bid. After Joe Piskula was called for slash, Drayson Bowman found himself on a break after getting a step on the Admirals penalty kill off the left wing. His shot beat Mazanec to the blocker side for his sixth goal of the season.
Ramblings: Before tonight’s game the Nashville Predators officially called up Miikka Salomäki and Viktor Stålberg. The Admirals countered with a move of their own by recalling Zach Budish and Garrett Noonan from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. By playing in tonight’s contest Budish played his 100th career game as a professional hockey player: 57 AHL games, 43 ECHL games. Tonight’s scratches were Mike Liambas, Garrett Noonan, and Johan Alm.
Thoughts on tonight’s performance? What changed in the Admirals from yesterday? Coulf this be the start of the ball starting to roll the other way?