The Admirals won 4-3 against the Iowa Wild Friday night. It is now a franchise record nine game winning streak for the Admirals who saw fireworks delivered by Rich Clune tonight. The forward had a fight and a goal in front of a rowdy crowd on Country Music Night.
“We just look forward,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “To be honest with you we didn’t like our game tonight. Last [game] we said we did some good things but not so good things, some good and some bad. Tonight we had a little more bad than good again. The break will be good for us.”
It only took Viktor Arvidsson fifty-two seconds to damage the Wild as he has done so often this season. The Swede received a pass before entering neutral ice from Anthony Bitetto, swopped across the Admirals logo, and then deked Matt Dumba out of his skates to break in on goal from the left wing. Arvidsson went backhand to forehand and beat Johan Gustafsson glove side for his fifteenth goal of the season and sixth scored against Iowa.
The Wild pulled right back in the third minute of the game with a sloppy goal. After a wrap-around attempt caused a loose puck to fall in front of Marek Mazanec the crowd of players kept chipping away at the loose puck for what felt like an eternity. There was no whistle until the puck finally crossed the line. Tyler Graovac was credited with the final touch for his fourteenth goal of the season. The Admirals bench was not happy at all that the officials allowed play to continue.
To end the first period the Admirals earned the game’s first power-play. It overlapped into the second period and the Ads managed to cash in. Kevin Fiala and Bitetto were passing to each other wing-to-wing before the Switzerland native fed to Colton Sissons in front of the net. Gustafsson opened the wickets just enough for Sissons to score five hole for his twelfth goal of the season. The primary assist went to Fiala for his first career pro point in North America.
Then came the fisticuffs. After an explosive hit by Jimmy Oligny and Mike Liambas to Brett Bulmer, Rich Clune dropped the gloves with Wild captain Stephane Veilleux. Clune had that fight from start to finish. Liambas would pair off with Kurtis Gabriel shortly after in the second period. Liambas had the start and Gabriel had the finish.
After the Admirals killed off a power-play to start the third period they found the back of the net. After creating a turnover in front of the net Austin Watson delivered a perfect set up to the back door of Gustafsson that gave Clune more than enough net to smack home his fourth goal of the season.
“He’s been great,” said Austin Watson of Clune. “He’s outspoken, as you guys know, and he just works hard. He goes out there and you know you’re going to get a hard working guy every night. That’s a good feeling as teammates.”
Then came a flurry from the Wild to equalize the game after falling down to a two goal deficit. Graovac had a pass that went to Gabriel whose whiffed shot hit off a skate and right to Zack Mitchell on the left wing side of the net to score his eleventh goal of the season.
When Triston Grant was called for interference, Matt Dumba’s slap shot from the center point rifled past Mazanec high blocker side to level the game off a power-play goal at 3-3 on the rookie defenseman’s fifth goal of the season. The goal snapped the Admirals penalty kill run of twenty-two straight kills.
With 6:37 remaining in the third period Watson scored his sixteenth goal of the season to restore the Admirals lead. He skated in off the left wing on a mini two-on-one with Clune out on his opposite wing. After Stu Bickel went down and out, Watson turned and fired a wrist shot on goal and managed to find a hole in Gustafsson to make it 4-3.
Wave upon wave of pressure came on Mazanec in net in the closing minutes of the game. Bitetto was called for a high stick and the Wild had plenty of in-tight chances to score in the final seconds but the Admirals killed off the penalty and survived the push with the Wild net emptied. The winning streak has hit a franchise record nine games.
“We’re finding ways to win,” said Watson. “Tonight, and last game, we didn’t do a lot of the right things but we found a way to win. The games before then we were just playing the game properly. Getting pucks in at lines and taking care of our own end and it is translating into offense for us.”
Ramblings: Yesterday the Admirals assigned four players to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL: Joe Pendenza, Zach Budish, Frederick Gaudreau, and Garrett Noonan. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were Pontus Aberg (healthy) and Johan Alm (upper body).
Thoughts on tonight’s game? How great of an addition has Rich Clune been for the Admirals since joining?