The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-1 on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday night at the Van Andel Arena.
In the final game of the season at Grand Rapids the Griffins did what they’ve done all season in this match-up: win in regulation. The Admirals looked slow throughout this contest and a pair of early goals for the Griffins didn’t do them any favors. In the end, Anthony Mantha fired three rockets to earn his first professional hat trick. He also had an assist to make it a four-point night for himself as the Admirals three-game winning streak comes to a halt.
This game started off poor for the Admirals quickly when a good read by Anthony Mantha in the neutral zone sent him off behind the Admirals defense on a breakaway where he would be hooked up by Trevor Murphy to earn a penalty shot. Mantha stepped up, dangled forehand to backhand, and beat Marek Mazanec to the blocker side to score with ease and snap the Admirals combined shutout streak at 149:23 of ice time.
It took the Griffins only three-minutes to score yet again and make it a 2-0 first period lead inside of six-minutes of play. Nathan Paetsch hit a shot from the middle of the blueline that knuckleballed its way past Mazanec from distance with a big assist to the net-front screen set by Louis-Marc Aubry. Mazanec was moving the wrong way attempting to see around Aubry as the puck arrived and the result was Paetsch’s fourth scored this season.
In the second period Mantha added his second goal of the night to make it 3-0. Mark Zengerle passed across from the left wing to Mantha camped out above the right wing face-off circle. Mantha absolutely hammered the puck with a slap shot that went just beneath the crossbar and in to further the Griffins lead.
Only moments later it appeared that the Griffins beat Mazanec once again but the officials quickly waved off the play. Zengerle was attempting to play a loose and hopping puck with his stick but it was his leg that got all of the blunt force to knock the puck in from the right wing near post. After a quick review the official announcement was made that it was indeed a no goal. The presumed reasoning, of course, being that it was due to a distinct kicking motion on the part of Zengerle.
The third period provided a brief lapse of hope for the Admirals. As a delayed penalty was in the works a Cody Hodgson shot ripped wide of the net but fell in-line with the run of Taylor Aronson. The Ads defenseman had jumped up from the blueline, carried on to corral the puck, and deliver a wrap-around off on the left wing side of the net that beat Jared Coreau to the punch. The goal was Aronson’s fourth of the season.
The hats would rain down for Mantha after a power-play goal capped off a huge night for the Griffins winger. On a clearing attempt Mantha was able to glove a puck down, drop, step into the slot, and fire a shot past Mazanec to complete his hat trick. Mantha’s third goal of the night went down as his fifteenth of the season.
Mazanec might not have had the greatest help on the evening but, regardless, he takes the loss. He stopped 25/29 shots on goal to take his first regulation loss in net since 1/8/16 which also came, where else, in Grand Rapids.
Ramblings: Prior to tonight’s game the Nashville Predators announced that Gabriel Bourque would be assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals on a Long-Term Injury Loan. The terms of Bourque’s loan state that he cannot exceed up to either six-days time or three-games. This should mean Bourque will be with the Admirals through this weekend’s games with his inclusion in tonight’s contest. Tonight’s line combinations were: Reinhart-Sissons-Åberg, White-Hodgson-Görtz, Fiala-Gaudreau-Bourque, Devane-Girard-Payerl, Oligny-Elliott, Murphy-Mullen, Alm-Aronson. Tonight’s scratches were all considered healthy scratches: Joe Pendenza, Vladislav Kamenev, and Kristian Näkyvä.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? What is it about the Grand Rapids Griffins that they do so well against the Milwaukee Admirals? Is it just a match-up issue or are the Admirals exploiting some sort of weakness against the Griffins that others can take stock of?