The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 against the Chicago Wolves Tuesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
It’s now three wins from the last three games for the Admirals in the Amtrak Rivalry with the Wolves. This contest was a scrappy and defensive affair with limited opportunities and solid goaltending from both Juuse Saros and Pheonix Copley. In the end, a third period marker for Pontus Åberg would be enough for the Admirals to hold on for victory.
“We liked our start,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of the team’s performance tonight. “And then about the ten-minute mark it looked like we got real complacent. It looked like we had a ton of skill, a ton of legs, and then we tried to do too much. It just started to get too cute. We challenged the group after the second period to simplify and then use that skill to score once we get through the neutral zone and out of our zone. We were trying to do too much. Credit to the group. They really did a good job in the third period.”
Kevin Fiala started tonight’s scoring with a power-play goal in the first period. Spencer Asuchak was given the stink eye after some rough stuff sent him to the box and the penalty was nearing an end. Trevor Murphy entered the attacking zone down the right wing wall and hit Fiala in stride as he broke in with plenty of space skating down the left wing. Fiala stickhandled as Yannick Veilleux and Jordan Schmaltz were closing in but rifled a shot bar down over the blocker side of Pheonix Copley to score his third goal of the season.
In the second period the Wolves would answer back with a power-play goal of their own. Fiala was called for a light slash behind the play as a puck cleared from an Admirals attack. On the ensuing power-play, a left point shot by André Benoît spanked wide off the end-boards but bounced out on the opposite wing to Jordan Caron. The following was simply awful luck. Caron was attempting to pass from his near post position to the slot for Pat Cannone but the puck ricocheted off of Petter Granberg’s stick blade and then skate before alluding Juuse Saros.
It only took one minute of the third period for the Admirals to break the 1-1 deadlock. After a puck jarred loose behind the Wolves net, Vladislav Kamenev hit Pontus Åberg with a picture perfect feed that resulted in a shot taken so quickly Copley never even knew the puck was freed loose behind his cage. The goal for Åberg tied him with Viktor Arvidsson, Frédérick Gaudreau, and Max Reinhart for the team lead in goal scoring with seven this season
“It’s a perfect goal to reinforce for the group,” explained Evason. “We get up the ice properly, we win the battle down there, and then [Pontus Åberg, Vladislav Kamenev, and Adam Payerl] used their skill underneath the tops of the circles to score a goal. They didn’t try to use their skill to go through people in our zone or through the neutral zone.”
The bout between Jamie Devane and Jacob Doty looked to be a sure bet from some of their early shifts within the first period. In the third period they finally dropped the mitts and threw down. Both landed heavy right-handed shots. Devane with his better work on body shots and Doty landing more of the clean overhand rights to the face. My fight card gives the slight edge to Doty, 10-9 round.
With 1:25 remaining, Copley made his way to the Wolves bench to bring on the extra attacker as the offensive cycle was rolling for them. They would never end up finding a breakthrough throughout the time spent a man-up and the Admirals would claim their third-straight win over the Amtrak Rivals from four games this season.
“We like that we seem to be able to play a few different ways,” said Evason. “Which is exciting to us as a staff. We don’t want to continually try to push buttons to get us to play the right way on that given night we’d like our group to play consistently. But sometimes games dictate how you play. Tonight had a bit of both, skill and grinding, and we were able to get the job done.”
Ramblings: Ahead of this game the Chicago Wolves brought in Zach Pochiro from the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL. Tonight’s Line Combinations: Fiala-Gaudreau-Görtz, Åberg-Kamenev-Payerl, White-Reinhart-Saponari, Devane-Girard-Pendenza, Murphy-Oligny, Näkyvä-Aronson, Bartley-Granberg. Tonight’s Scratches: Zach Budish (healthy), Cody Bass (upper-body), Johan Alm (healthy), and Conor Allen (upper-body). After the game, it was announced that Vladislav Kamenev will be joining Team Russia in the IIHF World Juniors. It was also announced that Kevin Fiala would not be representing Team Switzerland. Zach Budish was released from his PTO contract and is heading back to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? In the last three-games what have you made of this current Milwaukee Admirals team playing tight and defensively approached hockey? Is Kevin Fiala starting to turn a corner for the better?