The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-2 against the Texas Stars Sunday evening at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The extra bodies in camp right now did the Admirals proud. Matt White scored his first career goals as an AHL hockey player in his second career game and Joe Pendenza added a shorthandeder that went down as the game-winning goal.
“I think it says a lot about our depth,” commented Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “[Matt White, Zach Budish, and Vinny Saponari] are good players but, as important, they’re good people. They buy into the team game.”
In his second career game of AHL hockey Matt White scored a goal for the Milwaukee Admirals that sent 1,588 teddy bears flying over the glass. That set a new record for an Admirals teddy bear toss. Zach Budish sent White loose off a set up pass on the right wing blue line. White maintained a shooting posture the entire way in on goal before snapping a wrister high over the blocker of Jack Campbell to record his first career AHL goal after having scored sixty career goals at the ECHL level.
“It was an adjustment for me,” said Matt White of joining the Milwaukee Admirals from the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL. “I didn’t want to mess anything up because the team been having a lot of success. I just tried to fit in where I can and, luckily, the first shot went in.”
Perhaps the Admirals were still lagging mentally after helping clean up all those teddy bears when the Stars raced down and scored 1:40 of ice time after the teddy bear toss goal. Stephen Johns fought off a check along the right wing boards from Kevin Fiala to throw a puck towards Marek Mazanec that saw a redirect by Curtis McKenzie sneak past the near post glove side for his third goal of the season.
In the second period it looked as if Pontus Åberg had the Admirals back out in front. A puck went in and out of the goal, the players celebrated, but the goal light remained off. After a quick review it was determined the puck hit off the far-side right wing post and clattered out of the net.
It had to have been less than a minute before the Admirals scored a goal that needed to review process. The Admirals triangulated bodies around two Stars backcheckers and the play finished with a lovely one-two between White and Félix Girard. White was in the right wing, Conor Allen joined the rush on the left wing, and Girard as trailing ever so slightly behind the puck carrier White. After getting the pass back, Girard waited, saw the one-timer for White getting geared up, and gave him the dish to allow for White’s second goal of the game to be scored.
“[Matt White] played real well,” said Evason. “The goals are obvious and evident but he did so many little things right. Getting pucks out, no turnovers, just competing.”
Then penalty trouble caught up with the Admirals. Max Reinhart was called for a hooking minor and, on the penalty kill, Girard was called for a holding penalty whilst aggressively fighting for a puck in neutral ice. Vladislav Kamenev won the five-on-three faceoff but Victor Bartley’s clearing attempt hit off of Jason Dickinson and sent a skipping puck towards Mazanec’s goal mouth. Call it plain bad luck but that puck skipped cleanly back to Matej Stransky on the glove side of Mazanec for a tap in and his sixth goal of the season.
The Stransky goal came instantly off the faceoff of the five-on-three Stars power-play which left plenty of time for more damage to be done. As the Admirals would see things they would be the aggressors. Reinhart entered the attacking zone down the left wing waiting for a trailing player he could drop off to. Joe Pendenza worked his way into position, received the drop pass, waited on his shot, and burned Campbell for a shorthanded goal and his first goal scored in the AHL this season.
The Admirals extended their lead in the third period off a power-play goal from Frédérick Gaudreau. The slap shot by Gaudreau taken in the high slot was so high powered not many people on the ice knew if the shot went in or not. The puck flew in and out of the net like a lightning strike. It took video review to determine the shot did indeed beat Campbell for Gaudreau’s sixth goal of the season and fourth coming on the power-play.
Jimmy Oligny is generally known for his gritty defensive work. I’ll assume the planets aligned much like the traffic out in front of Campbell’s sight line in net because, when Oligny threw a wrister on net, the Stars netminder never saw it. It’s the first goal of the season for Oligny and only his second scored in seventy-four professional games played.
“It doesn’t happen often so I don’t know,” smiled Jimmy Oligny. “It’s almost weird for me to score a goal. It’s nice. It feels good but, at the same time, it’s not my job. It feels good to score a goal every once and a while.”
With more than five minutes left in regulation the Stars went empty net and brought the extra attacker on while trailing by three-goals. With 1:14 remaining in regulation Kristian Näkyvä was called for slashing but the Stars, for all that extra attacker time, got nothing from it. The Admirals finished it off with a 5-2 final score.
Ramblings: This morning Stevie Moses was unveiled by SKA St. Petersburg of Russia’s KHL after having penned a one-year contract. Moses was placed on unconditional waivers Thursday by the Nashville Predators. Today’s line combinations were: Fiala-Gaudreau-Payerl, Åberg-Kamenev-Saponari, Pendenza-Reinhart-Görtz, White-Girard-Budish, Näkyvä-Aronson, Allen-Oligny, Bartley-Murphy. Early in the third period, Vladislav Kamenev made a sliding defensive play to break up a scoring chance for Justin Dowling. As Dowling tripped up on Kamenev his knee spiked down on the back of Kamenev’s head. Kamenev was down for a bit, skated off the ice under his own power with Admirals head trainer Doug Agnew with him, and both headed back to the locker room. Kamenev did return to the game.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Were you impressed by the Admirals PTO signed players or do are you beginning to appreciate just how much quality Girard can possess at center?