The Milwaukee Admirals winning streak has made it to seven following a 5-3 victory against the Chicago Wolves Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
From the second period forwards this game had everything but a fight and a shorthanded goal to offer up. The second period started scoreless, saw the Admirals lead 3-0, and then head into the second intermission tied at 3-3. After goals were waved off for both teams in the third period Frédérick Gaudreau’s power-play goal would provide enough breathing space until Max Reinhart’s empty netter closed the game out. The Wolves nine-game points streak is done. The Wolves eight-game winning streak over the Admirals is also a thing of the past.
“Real good test,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We talked about [the Chicago Wolves] being a veteran group that stays patient. We challenged our group to play a patient game, to play a mature game, to play a veteran game against a veteran team. We thought we did that.”
As far as first period highlights go there was only one standout sequence worth plunging into. The Wolves top line of Ty Rattie, Pat Cannone, and Danny Kristo put on a passing display that led to seven shots on goal from a single shift. Massive credit can be given to Juuse Saros who came up huge in net for the Admirals a number of times from that passage of play alone. His work helped see both teams enter the first period scoreless.
“[Juuse Saros] continues to have big moments in hockey games were we’re not so good and he is,” said Evason. “He’s got a mental strength in him that he just tightens up and plays the game hard and intense and gets the job done when maybe we’re not doing it in front of him.”
In the second period the Admirals finally made the Wolves pay for putting them on the power-play so often. On power-play chance number four of the game, Frédérick Gaudreau won the opening faceoff draw and the puck fell back into the slap shot of Viktor Arvidsson who hammered a puck past Jordan Binnington to score his fifth goal of the season. Arvidsson now has a ten-game points streak which ties Wolves’ captain Cannone for the longest points steak in the AHL this season.
A little over two-minutes after breaking the scoring open the Admirals gave themselves a two-goal cushion. Stevie Moses spin-around wrister fell out in front of Binnington and to the tape of net-front man Cody Bass for a follow up shot. Bass’ follow up actually managed to get past Binnington and tickle towards the goal line but Max Reinhart was in the right place at the right time to push the puck across to score his fifth goal of the season.
As far as replacements go Eric Robinson is making it difficult for the Admirals to send him back to their ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones. With no one around him on the left wing Jamie Devane picked out his linemate for a one-timer that Robinson fired high and past the blocker of Binnington to score his third goal of the season. Robinson has scored a point in all four-games he has played with the Admirals this season.
The Wolves would answer back to the Admirals three goal onslaught less than a minute after Robinson’s goal. A real crafty piece of stick handling by Peter Harrold allowed him to carve his way on the right wing side of Saros before teeing up Rattie opposite post for a tap in. The goal for Rattie is his seventh of the season. He has scored a goal in six out of the seven games he’s played with the Wolves this season.
Well, who doesn’t love a little bit of controversy? After a clear cut penalty against Max Görtz for a high stick Wolves forward Cody Beach hit Arvidsson from behind into the boards after the whistle. It could have been called for boarding or even an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty considering it came after the whistle blew. The only man that would go the box would end up being Görtz and the net result would be a puck heading into the Admirals net off a Wolves power-play. A point shot hit off the pads of Saros and right to the free man Kristo on the left wing side of the cage for an easy goal – his seventh of the season.
That Wolves power-play kept bringing the damage against the Admirals as a second period that started scoreless, and became 3-0 Admirals, would end tied up at 3-3. Gaudreau would head to the box on a delay of game penalty after playing the puck with a broken stick. With that penalty almost fully killed off Reinhart got overly aggressive attempting to win a puck in neutral ice and picked up a tripping call. The Admirals made it through the eight-seconds of five-on-three penalty killing thanks to a big shot block by Bass and cover by Saros. Unfortunately, it was the second penalty against Reinhart that would end up costing them as a patient play by veteran blueliner Chris Butler allowed him to pick his spot on the wrist shot and beat Saros up and over the blocker-side shoulder to tally his first goal of the season. The power-play goal from the Wolves was their sixth scored from eleven chances against the Admirals in two-games this season.
Just past three minutes into the third period it looked like the Wolves comeback would keep pushing forward and give them their first lead of the game. Jacob Doty looked to have scored his second of the season but the officials waved it off because of reasons. The same could be said moments later when an Arvidsson howitzer rolled through Binnington but the officials said Bass hit the goaltender. The video replay shown did not show any contact made between Bass and Binnington. It was a clear wash of “who knows” for the boys in stripes.
“[Cody Bass is] screening him,” said Evason of the Admirals no goal call. “He’s in front of him. I can see if he fell into him or he was right in his crease but it’s too bad. Cody Bass does all the right things. He checks before he goes in there to see where his feet are. He obstructed the goaltender from seeing it but not from playing it.”
Following a crosscheck by Wolves defenseman Butler the Admirals regained the lead from a power-play goal. Gaudreau had somehow missed the net from a point blank chance right wing side of Binnington’s cage. Luckily, he’d get a chance to redeem himself by getting another opportunity on the right wing and labeled a wrister off of the Wolves netminder and in to score his third goal of the season.
With 1:08 remaining Binnington hit the Wolves bench to bring out the extra attacker. The Wolves were clawing for a late equalizer but with seconds remaining Reinhart backhanded a shot from the neutral zone to score the empty netter, his second goal of the game, and sixth goal of the season.
The Admirals have finally solved the mystery that is Binnington in net. Prior to this game he won won each and every start he’s ever had against the Admirals posting eight wins, 1.47 goals against average, and 0.936 save percentage. The loss is his first ever against the Admirals and the win by the Admirals was their first over the Wolves in almost a calendar year.
“It was pretty impressive how we obviously got up three-nothing, the gave them three back, but there was no panic,” said Eric Robinson. “It just shows that we have a lot of mental toughness. We trust our systems, we trust ourselves, even with a couple of calls we’d have like to have go our way. We didn’t get too upset, we focused on the job, and got it done.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played Saturday night they received Marek Mazanec back from the Nashville Predators so that they could activate Carter Hutton from injured reserve. The counter move that came from that was Brandon Whitney being reassigned from the Admirals down to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Kevin Fiala’s two-game suspension by the AHL was fulfilled following the completion of the Admirals contest in Charlotte Saturday. Unfortunately for him he is currently sidelined due to an undisclosed injury and was scratched for tonight’s game. Speaking of injuries, Johan Alm left the game with a lower-body injury and Stevie Moses left the game with an upper-body injury. Neither returned to the game following their injuries and aren’t expected to feature next time out for the Admirals. Trevor Murphy’s four game goal scoring streak came to an end tonight.
Thought’s on tonight’s game? Was this the nuttiest game of the season? How clutch was Juuse Saros in the first period and late in the third period? What can you say about Viktor Arvidsson’s effort in this game?