The Admirals lost 5-1 against the Oklahoma City Barons Sunday evening. This was about as rough of a game as the Admirals have had all season as the Barons bounced back in a big way tonight at the Admirals expense. The two will meet up again Tuesday when the Ads season long six game road trip starts up.
“That was a funny game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Clearly we made some mistakes to allow them the two goal lead and certainly the third goal. We thought for a lot of the game we had some territorial advantages. We make a mistake and we kick it in the net, then the power-play goal, we get back in it 3-1, and then we lost our composure a little bit in the hockey game. That wasn’t good on our part for sure.”
It was a sluggish start for both teams in the opening few minutes. The Barons were jamming up the neutral zone right out the gate and pinned the Admirals deep in their own half. This helped on the opening goal as a long range shot by Dillon Simpson was deflected past Marek Mazanec by Jason Williams to score his nineteenth goal of the season.
Figuring it’s high time for a spark, Rich Clune delivered a hard check to Brad Hunt that resulted in both a boarding minor and a subsequent fight with Mitch Moroz. The two had a heated tilt that escalated with Moroz continuing to gun for Clune after the officials had broken things up.
While Moroz was handed a misconduct for his troubles the Barons still had a power-play off of the initial Clune boarding minor. It would come back to bite the Admirals. The puck ricocheted over to Andrew Miller who patiently glided down the left wing before passing between the circles for Bogdan Yakimov. The defense wasn’t able to close him down in time and Yakimov responded with a quick swat for his tenth goal of the season.
In the second period the Barons extended their lead to 3-0. C.J. Ludwig’s shot from the right wing wall trickled through the pads of Mazanec and rolled behind him in the crease. C.J. Stretch was the first man to react to the loose puck and fended off Johan Alm as he whipped a shot back to the goal. As it happened, Stretch’s shot banked off of Alm’s skate and in for Stretch’s eighth goal of the season. Hard to imagine he’ll score an uglier one than that in his career.
Viktor Arvidsson finally put the Admirals on the board with his eighteenth goal of the season in the third period. The Swede rushed off the right wing, toe dragged, and fired a quick wrist shot past the blocker side of Laurent Brossoit.
Sadly, the Barons answered right back only forty-five seconds later. A puck jarred free off the left wing wall and straight to Joshua Winquist. He was all alone in front of Mazanec as he swooped across from left to right before finishing off on the backhand for his fifth goal of the season.
“That’s something that just can’t happen,” explained Triston Grant after the game. “You get some momentum, some life, and we’ve got to keep building and make sure we come back with an even bigger shift than we had when we scored. So, that’s obviously something that is part of our learning process, being a pro, and being good teams. That’s one of those things we’ve got to continue to work on.”
The damage would continue following an unsportsmanlike conduct on Jimmy Oligny. With his penalty expiring the Barons teed up a great passing play that ended with Stretch feeding across, low left wing to the top of the right faceoff circle, for Kellen Jones. His one-timed bomb ripped past Mazanec high blocker side for his fifth goal of the season to make it a 5-1 game.
As always, there is the potential for message sending at the end of lopsided games – especially with an overlap such as this Sunday-Tuesday tilt between the Admirals and Barons. With 1:45 remaining Triston Grant unloaded on Moroz in the right wing corner and laid him out. As officials separated them, and things cooled down, Moroz reached out and threw another punch at Grant’s face. Be curious to see how explosive things are going to get come Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
“We knew when we saw the schedule at the start of the year that March was going to be a grind for us,” said Evason. “It’s in front of us. We’re looking forward to next game. We get [Oklahoma City] right away so it will be a good challenge for the group.”
Ramblings: Prior to puck drop tonight, Viktor Stålberg was recalled to the Nashville Predators. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals included Mike Liambas (right-leg laceration), Miikka Salomäki (upper-body), and Jonathan Diaby (undisclosed, did participate in pre-game skate). Per Aaron Sims, today was Mark Van Guilder’s 365th game as an Admiral. He is now one game behind Scott Ford for the most games played by an Admiral in the AHL history of the team. Tonight’s game was the final time we will see the Oklahoma City Barons who are ceasing operations after this season. The Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate will be the Bakersfield Condors in next season’s new Pacific Division.
What is your reaction to this result from the Admirals? Is this a wake-up call sort of game? What all went wrong today and how can it get corrected when these two meet up again in OKC?