Rock Bottom; Admirals lose 8-4 to Chicago

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

Eric Robinson scored the first goal of his professional hockey playing career tonight. Unfortunately it came during a depressing 8-4 loss for the Milwaukee Admirals. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Admirals lost 8-4 against the Chicago Wolves Friday night. The rough keeps getting rough for the Admirals who have now lost four straight and have only one win from their last ten games.

“We scored four goals in this hockey game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “That’s enough to win. We shoot ourselves in the foot to not allow ourselves to be in that hockey game.”

This game started with the dreaded Admirals power-play allowing its tenth shorthanded goal of the season. Nathan Longpre’s shorthanded rush and pull back to the right wing wall sucked in three Admirals while no one picked up the on-rushing Jeremy Welsh. Longpre passed across and it was a breakaway that ended forehand to backhand for Welsh’s fifteenth goal of the season and sixth scored against the Admirals.

The Admirals were able to level things up after some solid net front work out of the Pontus Aberg, Joe Pendenza, and Austin Watson line. Watson swatted a puck off the stick of Joel Edmundson and it fell to Pendenza who quickly backhanded a shot towards goal. His shot ended up deflecting off the leg of Brett Regner who was camped out in front of goaltender Jordan Binnington and the puck fell to Aberg for a quick wrister and his sixteenth goal of the season.

After Mike Liambas was given an elbowing minor for a check in neutral ice on Colton Parayko – the Wolves special teams was able to retake a first period lead. Pat Cannone passed from the left wing wall into the front of the net where Shane Harper whirled off a backhander to the opposite wing. The pass from Harper was immediately stabbed past Marek Mazanec by Magnus Paajarvi for his sixth goal of the season.

It took the Wolves only twenty-seven seconds into the second period to make it a 3-1 game. Parayko’s shot from the right point was spilled into the path of Adam Cracknell who continued to whack away at the puck until it was forced across for his fifth goal of the season.

Eric Robinson scored his first career goal as a professional hockey player to pull the game back to a one-goal deficit. Robinson skated into a soft spot in the zone as his linemates worked away on the forecheck. Mark Van Guilder passed from behind the net and Robinson took it first-time and wired his shot over the blocker of Binnington for his first pro goal.

“It was a good feeling,” said Eric Robinson. “It’d be nicer if we won. Hopefully I can take that confidence into the next couple games.”

The Admirals enigma wrapped inside of a mystery and packaged into a riddle, aka their power-play, finally made good to end a previous drought of 0/39 that ran for eleven games. On chance number forty, Colton Sissons threw a shot pass looking for a stick-blade en route to the net. Gary Steffes was able to get the deflection and received an even bigger redirect courtesy of Wolves defenseman Regner. The puck deflected off Regner’s leg and past Binnington for the ever elusive Admirals power-play goal. It was Steffes’ second career AHL goal and first scored since 2/9/13 as a member of the Lake Erie Monsters.

Less than three minutes later it was a Wolves lead. Jacob Doty scored his first career AHL goal after a hard shot from the left point deflected off a stick and proceeded to flutter on past the glove of Mazanec and in.

Mazanec’s night would come to an end moments later as he conceded his fifth goal of the night. Cracknell scored from the bottom of the left wing circle after taking a swipe on a puck that skipped over to him. His shot beat Mazanec near post for his second of the night and sixth of the season. Mazanec stopped 17/22 shots on goal before getting replaced in net by Magnus Hellberg with 9:32 remaining in the second period.

“I have no idea,” answered Evason when asked about what’s happening to Mazanec in net. “We’re still trying to figure it out. He’s trying to figure it out.”

The Admirals did what they had to in the third period which was to score first in the hopes of chipping away on the Wolves two-goal lead. Zach Budish whipped a wrister from the right wing boards the kicked off the pads of Binnington. Mike Liambas was able to swat the rebound with a backhander that flipped past the blocker side of the Wolves netminder for his fifth goal of the season.

The inability of the Admirals to gather or maintain momentum within games has been an issue of late. With the game at a 5-4 deficit the Admirals seemed primed to get on a third period run like that of the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday night. Then a puck went airborne in the Admirals defensive zone with Paajarvi camped under it and waiting to fire. He managed to slam a slap shot off the puck’s initial bounce and beat Hellberg high to the blocker for his second goal of the night and seventh of the season to immediately restore the Wolves two-goal lead.

With a late power-play the Admirals went for the extra attacker with 2:35 remaining. That was instantly punished after Welsh forced a turnover and spun a backhander from his own zone into the empty net for a shorthanded goal. It was his second shorthanded goal of the night, sixteenth goal of the season, and sixth goal scored against the Admirals.

For a laugh, the Admirals pulled Hellberg for the extra attacker once more only to allow the hat trick tally for Paajarvi that finished this game off at 8-4 Wolves. The goal for Paajarvi was his eighth of the season. And the loss for the Admirals was their worst of the 2014-15 campaign.

Ramblings: Kevin Fiala was assigned to the Admirals yesterday before getting recalled once again under emergency conditions earlier today. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were Felix Girard (upper body) and Jimmy Oligny (healthy). After the game head coach Dean Evason said that Girard will not be back with the Admirals for the rest of this season due to injury.

When the Admirals claw back to tie the game at 3-3 what happened to the team? What will it ultimately take for the Admirals to jolt back to life? Are you concerned in the Admirals goaltending right now?

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12 Responses to Rock Bottom; Admirals lose 8-4 to Chicago

  1. Peter says:

    I’m not concerned about the goaltending if Hellberg starts. The problem is he rarely starts. Two solid games in OKC and Grand Rapids gets him a third start where he doesn’t play well and just like that he’s done. Mazanec should be the one with no leash.

    I don’t know what Evason sees that the rest of us don’t but it’s incredibly frustrating going into a game with a goalie playing as bad as Mazanec knowing that the team is most likely going to have to score at least 4 goals to even be in the game.

    That quote by Evason about what’s going on with Mazanec is awful as well. Try to figure it out in something other than a game! When you do figure it out, then he can start to play again. Until then, Hellberg needs to start.

  2. Mark Sumner says:

    There’s no way to sugar coat it anymore. This team is just bad. Nobody paying attention to what the hell is going on. Passing consistently to the wrong team. Then you have this ridiculously terrible power play team which seems to give up more shorties than actually scoring goals, and it’s been that way for the past two years…. With absolutely no change in PP strategy. If there’s any upside to this team whatsoever, it’s been the play of Robinson and Steffes.

  3. frontrowjon says:

    I almost left at 7-4 but i stayed to watch the “coaching” staff gather the team around to draw up the 3 goal play too bad it’s not like NBA Jam that might work. More poor mistakes leading to goals! Hellberg should have been in after goal 4 went in. Ol Captain Joe can leave whenever he wants too. Feel bad for Ford he came back to this! I’d ask to go back to SC if i were him at least they play as a team.

  4. Fan in the Falls says:

    Peter, agree 100%. Why oh why is Maz still the #1? And I would say why wasn’t he pulled after 3 goals? With how poorly he’s been playing his leash should be very short.

  5. adsfan says:

    I knew that Milwaukee was going to lose when the two goalies were announced. Chicago played their good goalie and Milwaukee played their bad goalie. Chicago scored their first goal on a late line change, a recent habit by Milwaukee, and the three players couldn’t figure out how to cover two Wolves. Maz gets beat on his stick side. Maz couldn’t cover the puck on the third goal. The deflection shot was tough to stop, unless the Admirals had a guy at the point, and/or a guy on top of Doty. Maz couldn’t stop the shot from his left again. Three goals on Maz, 2 on the defense. I would have pulled Maz after the third goal. Milwaukee could have still won the game.

    Hellberg stopped 12 of 13 shots over 29 minutes in goal. Aronson was -3, but he was paired with Bitetto (-2). Anthony keeps standing by the goal. He also did that on Wednesday. Does he have a bad leg that makes it hard to skate? MVG was also -3. The offense was okay. They tied the game at 1 and 3 all. Then they were let down again. Did you hear the mock cheer for Mazanec when he got pulled? Did you hear the big hand for Hellberg when he came in? Another loss in front of a big crowd. A divisional game counts twice. Play Hellberg until he loses a game.

    Clune got his hand or wrist caught between 2 Wolves near the end of the game. He might have a broken hand or wrist from the way he reacted.

  6. frontrowjon says:

    Ads fan if that’s true about Clune i won’t mind if he has to miss time. Really doesn’t bring much to the table. New promo for the next three games. Free Pick n Save bags to wear over your head! Bag-mirals!

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  8. Steve C says:

    Wow, all the hate for Clune? He’s not an offensive machine. That’s just not his role. He’s a great forechecker, has a lot of speed, and is being used in all kinds of scenarios, including penalty kill. In yesterday’s game, Clune started chirping with several guys at the start of the game. He drew a penalty early on, and in the scrum after the whistle, he pulled Diaby away because he knew he drew the penalty and didn’t want Diaby to even it up.

    If anything, I’d take him over Grant. Grant has been disappointing to me this season. He’s taken a number of foolish penalties which has cost the Admirals this year…

    The way to beat the Milwaukee Admirals has been clear since mid December or January… stack three defenders on the blue line and prevent the team from skating the puck in the zone. Our only adjustment to this is to dump the puck in and we just can’t for the life of anyone win battles along the boards deep in the zone. This is exactly why our PP has also failed IMO. If we lose control of the puck we just can’t regain it in battles along the boards. There’s been no other adjustment to this type of defense by the team. We continue to dump the puck in deep and continue to watch the goaltender or bigger opposing defensemen gain control of the puck and move it out of the zone. Kind of a sad season really :(

    On a brighter note, here’s a great article on the Predators’ up and coming prospects. The article also mentions that report in Finland that Jusso Saros is definitely coming to North America next year. I would assume he would land in Milwaukee, unless the Preds decide to keep both Maz and Hellberg again.

  9. adsfan says:

    Steve, I agree with you on Clune and dumping the puck. My daughter was watching the game down in Chicago and texted me about the Admirals dumping the puck with the 6-on-4 advantage near the end of the game. If there was ever a time to skate the puck into the O-zone, that was it!
    Instead, the Admirals gave up a SH / EN goal. Ouch!

    Steve, I say fire Evason, elevate Drulia and make you the assistant coach for the rest of the season

  10. Steve C says:

    How about fire Evason, hire Claude Noel :-P

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  12. Fran says:

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