The Milwaukee Admirals won 7-5 against the Manitoba Moose Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
This game had just about everything but a fight and proper defense. It was incredible to watch unfold as a spectator but intense as it gets to be calling the shots as a coach behind the bench. For all the incredible momentum shifts that happened the Admirals scored the game-winner with 32.8 seconds remaining in regulation. It might not have been the best bounce back game from last night but the Admirals will take the win.
“Crazy game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “Frustrating at some points that we weren’t doing the right things but it’s just one of those games.”
The Admirals were able to score the opener tonight and it only took them 1:01 of ice time to do it. After collecting a loose puck in his defensive zone, Kevin Fiala lead a three-on-two rush into the attacking zone down the left wing and tagged Max Görtz on the opposite wing for a quick-strike goal. The tally for Görtz was his fourth of the season.
An unfortunate moment that occurred last night was replicated again tonight. The Rockford IceHogs scored twice in nine-seconds to go from trailing 1-0 to leading 2-1 last night. While not as fast, the Moose scored twice in the span of 1:20 to accomplish the same feat.
The first Moose goal seemed harmless enough when the shot was winding up. Chase De Leo was loading up on a wrister from the right wing faceoff dot and his shot surprised Juuse Saros near-post and high glove side for De Leo’s fifth goal of the season.
A mere 1:20 of ice time later, a defensive breakdown lead to a tap-in goal to give the Moose a 2-1 first period lead. Taylor Aronson was matched up one-on-one with Scott Kosmachuk and the Manitoba forward was carving around the right wing pocket and pulling Aronson further away from the slot. No forwards from the Admirals filled the negative space that was forming but Ryan Olsen scooted in and presented himself as a prime target for Kosmachuk to tee up. He did, and it was an easy finish for Olsen’s fourth goal of the season.
It wasn’t until three-minutes into the second period when the game saw a penalty called. After Andrew MacWilliam played Zac Larraza instead of the puck on zone entry he was sat down for two-minutes on an interference minor. This set the stage for your prototypical Swedish one-timed bomb from the left wing circle. Aronson at the point. Görtz on the left wing circle. Ker-blammo. And Görtz scored his second of the night and fifth of the season.
The rapid fire goals were given a new twist in the second period. The Admirals were able to score shorthanded through Félix Girard’s third goal of the season. He led a two-on-one rush down the left wing and snapped a shot against the grain before Eric Comrie’s glove hand knew whether to go up or down.
What is the downside of scoring a shorthanded goal? You’re still shorthanded when the puck gets dropped after scoring. Just twenty-three seconds after Girard’s shorthander and the Moose had themselves a power-play goal. It was an unconventional tic-tac-toe goal. Nic Petan’s wing-to-wing feed hit Olsen flush for a low shot that Saros fended off but allowed for an easy rebounder to be scored by Austen Brassard for his
The second period scoring frenzy would keep motoring along and pick up someone not generally known for goal scoring. Matt White beat Peter Stoykewych at the blue line, gained the attacking zone, and was squaring up Comrie down the right wing for a low shot. The puck kicked off Comrie’s pads, past Zac Larraza,and into the oncoming path of Jimmy Oligny who outwaited the Moose goaltender before depositing a backhander into the net for his second goal of the season.
Nearing the midway point in the third period the Moose found an equalizing goal to make it a 4-4 game. A puck skipped up on Saros who did well to battle it off as far as he could. That unfortunately wasn’t far at all. De Leo had the rebound, spin around on the forehand, and caught Saros as he was in recovery mode with a shot that went through the wickets for his second goal of the night and sixth of the season.
When Kristian Näkyvä signed on to join the organization in the off-season he did so with a reputation for delivering offense from the blueline. Thus far, that reputation hasn’t been showcased in Milwaukee and he’s often had ups and downs defensively. Tonight he can rest his head knowing he scored his first career North American goal. Fiala passed back up ice from the low right wing to Näkyvä at the point who hammered a slap shot. Stoykewych heavily screened his own netminder and Comrie never saw the shot taken.
“It was a long time to wait for that,” smiled Kristian Näkyvä. “It was nice to have that for Christmas.”
The scoring in this game seemingly wouldn’t stop and the momentum shifts kept bucking like bonkers. With under five-minutes to play De Leo grabbed his hat trick to equalize the game at 5-5. Petan was able to made a wide reaching backhanded pass from behind the Admirals net that went to De Leo in the high slot. He fired past the net-front screen of Joe Pendenza and beat Saros high blocker side for his third goal of the night and seventh of the season.
“Not the ideal game and obviously not the best of games for me,” said Juuse Saros post-game. “A lot of different situations. Of course I wanted to save a couple of those but that’s hockey. Got to learn from those and get better.”
Considering all the goal scoring that was taking place in this game it wasn’t even a sure bet that this game was heading to overtime as the call for one-minute remaining rang around the building. That would be the case. Adam Payerl whipped a beautiful pass from deep in the right wing while battling off MacWilliam and found a wide open Pontus Åberg on the backdoor of Comrie to score a goal with 32.8 seconds remaining in regulation. The goal for Åberg was his eighth of the season.
Directly following Åberg’s goal the Moose made up their mind to go empty net and extra attacker on the faceoff. Girard would get the tie-up and the newbie Larraza stepped in and threw the puck all the way down and into the empty net to record his first career AHL goal and polish the game off at a wild 7-5 scoreline.
“We did like the way that we stuck together,” commented Evason. “We talked about being a team after last night’s game. As you guys know, we talked about going on our own page a little bit last night. Tonight we didn’t. Tonight we stuck together. Although there were some breakdowns, clearly, to allow that many goals against – there was good stuff to get the opportunity to have success.”
Ramblings: There were no roster moves made between last night’s game and tonight’s contest. It is worth noting that the Holiday Break Roster Freeze comes into effect at midnight tonight. What does that mean? It means for all players on an active NHL roster, injured reserve, or with a non-roster status as of midnight tonight will be locked in place until midnight of December 27th with respect to waivers, trades and loans, subject to the exceptions provided for in CBA Article 16.5 (d). Tonight’s line combinations were exactly the same as last night: Fiala-Gaudreau-Görtz, Åberg-Reinhart-Payerl, Larraza-Girard-White, Devane-Pendenza-Saponari, Bartley-Granberg, Näkyvä-Aronson, Murphy-Oligny. Scratches tonight were: Cody Bass (upper-body), Conor Allen (upper-body), and Johan Alm (healthy). Bass has now missed the Admirals last eight games. Allen has missed the last six-games. Alm has been a healthy scratch the last four-games but did participate in pre-game skate ahead of tonight’s game.
What do you take away from a game like this? Did the Milwaukee Admirals regroup as a team in the space of twenty-four hours? Is the Admirals’ defense concerning? Are the Manitoba Moose playing up to the Admirals level or are the Admirals playing down to the Moose’s level?