The Milwaukee Admirals won 7-3 on the road against the Bakersfield Condors Friday night at the Rabobank Arena.
Make it back-to-back games for the Admirals in which they have won by a 7-3 final. Tonight’s story came from defenseman turned winger by necessity Trevor Murphy. The Admirals were without Vladislav Kamenev due to a lower-body injury and had a late-scratch tonight for Cody Hodgson due to illness. Murphy was pushed on to the left wing tonight and all he did was notch a six point game and a hat trick. Perhaps this might be the first of a few games Murphy sees action as a forward? Why not?
“It’s just all coaching,” joked Milwaukee Admirals assistant coach Stan Drulia of Trevor Murphy’s switch to forward in his post-game interview with Aaron Sims after the game on 105.7 FM The Fan. “He’s been out of the lineup. Our six [defensemen] have done a real good job. We thought that the way [Murphy] skates – the way he handles the puck that he’d be able to deliver a little bit offensively. I don’t think anybody counted he’d go three-and-three and really lead us offensively today but he played real well.”
The Admirals had some early adversity to get through with thirty-eight seconds of five-on-three penalty kill to battle through. Through the penalty kill the Admirals actually managed to create two odd-man rushes included a great near chance with Félix Girard on the five-on-three.
On the flip side of the penalty killing it would be the Conors scoring shorthanded to notch the game’s opening goal in the first period. Jujhar Khaira beat Matt White down the left wing with speed to win a footrace to the puck, held backhand on his approach to Marek Mazanec, put the Czech down and out, and lifted a backhander up and over him to record his fifth goal of the season.
As always, there is a downside to scoring a shorthanded goal which is that you’re still shorthanded on the opposite end of the goal. The Admirals scored just as Philip McRae’s hooking minor had expired when Trevor Murphy laid off a pass to the front of the net for Colton Sissons to snap a quick shot from point blank range to score his sixth goal of the season and tie the game forty-seconds after Khaira’s shorthanded goal was scored.
With 2:10 remaining in the first period Murphy continued showing well in his debut night on the wing by adding a goal to his earlier assist. Joe Pendenza battled behind the net but lost the puck as he attempted to swing in front of the net. Murphy followed in and was able to cradle the puck and rip a shot off of Laurent Brossoit on the near post that banked off of the Condors netminder and go in for Murphy’s sixth goal of the season.
It didn’t take long for the Admirals to score once the second period started up. Murphy raced down the right wing an spanked a shot far post 1:18 into the frame for his second goal of the night and seventh goal of the season. That was the end of the night in net for Condors All-Star goaltender Brossoit as he was replaced by Eetu Laurikainen after stopping 5/8 shots on goal from 21:18 of work.
Laurikainen was given a heck of a welcoming to the game from Matt White who scored what might go down as the best goal of this Admirals season. White blazed past a stationary Khaira with speed and skill before whipping a forehand shot against the grain to beat Laurikainen high blocker side. The goal for White was his sixth of the season.
Following a holding minor against Kyle Platzer the Admirals scored on the power-play for their third goal scored in the second period. Some point to point work between Taylor Aronson and Stefan Elliott ended with a one-timed howitzer for Elliott who scored his third goal of the season. Picking up a secondary assist on the play was Murphy to become the first Admiral this season to notch a four-point game.
Bakersfield finally ended the Admirals run of five-unanswered goals after a loose puck scramble in the third period. A point shot hit net-front traffic and was gathered up by Josh Currie on the backhand who deposited behind Mazanec for his fourth goal of the season to make it a 5-2 game.
Murphy’s amazing night would keep rolling forward at the forward spot as he completed his hat trick with a low wrister that blazed past Laurikainen. That made it three goals on the night and eight goals on the season for Murphy.
This was followed by a tap-in goal for Adam Payerl on a rebound to make it back-to-back games for the Admirals to score seven goals in a game. Payerl’s tally was his eighth of the season but it was that kid named Murphy getting in on the damage once again. Murphy had six points tonight – three goals and three assists. His six-point game tonight was the first by a member of the Milwaukee Admirals since Alexander Radulov scored a goal and five assists on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins back on 11/14/06.
Call it a late consolation goal or a sympathy tally but Matthew Ford managed to score from a near impossible angle to make this a 7-3 game. The Condors forward was far away from the net along the right wing wall and nearing the end of the faceoff circle when he opted to throw a puck high to the net. Mazanec ducked and the shot managed to squeak in for Ford’s eighteenth goal of the season.
The Admirals have gone 5-0-1-0 in their last six-games. With the results around the AHL tonight the team has put a small cushion between themselves and third place in the Central Division all while reeling in the division leading Rockford IceHogs – who were walloped 9-1 on home ice tonight by the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Admirals finish off their lone California road trip of the season tomorrow night against the San Diego Gulls.
“These teams out here are big strong teams,” commented Drulia of the Californian clubs the Admirals have faced this season. “They play a real heavy game. We found that out with San Diego when they were in our building. They have a real good power-play. They really rely on their special teams. So, we’re going to have to be detailed in all areas of the game, get on the bus here, and enjoy this four-hour ride we have through California and get ready to play again tomorrow.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played the Nashville Predators opted to recall forward Viktor Arvidsson from the Milwaukee Admirals and keep Kevin Fiala at the AHL level. Tonight’s line combinations included Trevor Murphy, a defenseman, playing on the wing: Fiala-Sissons-Åberg, White-Gaudreau-Görtz, Murphy-Girard-Payerl, Devane-(Rotating)-Pendenza, Oligny-Elliott, Näkyvä-Mullen, Alm-Aronson. Tonight’s scratches were: Cody Hodgson (illness), Vladislav Kamenev (lower-body), Jonathan Diaby (upper-body), Max Reinhart (personal). Aaron Sims made the great observation that tonight’s game in California for the Admirals was the organization’s first since 4/1/00 when they played against the Long Beach Ice Dogs in the IHL. Tonight’s Admirals win in California was their first since 12/9/95 against the San Francisco Spiders – that game ended as a 3-1 final.
Thoughts on tonight’s game for the Milwaukee Admirals? What have you thought about the offense these last two games? Will Trevor Murphy be starting to transition from defense to wing after a night like this?