The Milwaukee Admirals won 4-2 against the Iowa Wild Friday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
In the opening to this game a pair of defensive mistakes led to the Admirals quickly being down 2-0. The difference maker came in the form of the timeout from Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason following the second Wild goal as forty-seconds later the Admirals found the back of the net. By the end of the first period the Admirals scored four unanswered goals. That’s precisely where the game would end after the mayhem of the opening twenty-minutes calmed down for the remaining frames.
“The gist was to simplify our game,” commented Evason of what was said to the team during the timeout. “All we’ve talked about is how hard Iowa was going to work. Which they did. We tried to make cute skill plays in our zone trying to come up our zone trying to come up the ice, didn’t get pucks deep, and all we wanted our group to do was simplify our game and work. Because that’s what Iowa is going to do. If we matched that we would have been fine.”
This game did not have the greatest of starts for the Admirals as a pair of defensive errors led to two Wild goals in the space of a minute. The game’s opening goal followed a mistake behind the net by Corey Potter that gave the puck up to Scott Sabourin who passed out in front of the net to Colton Beck. The initial shot was stopped by Saros but Beck pushed forward and popped in his own rebound to record his fourth goal of the season.
Just one minute later the Wild cashed in on yet another mistake by the Admirals in their own zone. A puck kicked free and into the high right wing for Brett Bulmer to scoop up and create a two on one with Rob Bordson to his left. The pass from Bulmer hit Bordson clean and the veteran finished with a backhander to beat Saros for his eighth goal of the season.
It was at this moment when a change was needed. Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason always preaches that there are two methods that a coach can do when his team needs a wake up call: you can either pull the goaltender or take a timeout. Just 4:04 into the first period the Admirals used their timeout and proceeded to get the proverbial hair-drier from Evason at the bench. The results that followed spoke volumes as the Admirals exploded for four unanswered goals to end the first period.
“I don’t care how skilled you think you are or that you actually are – it doesn’t work. It doesn’t beat the work and competitiveness of another team and another player,” said Evason. “We weren’t prepared to do that. That’s all. We were just trying to let them know that we needed to do that and they did. So, that’s a credit to them.”
Following the Admirals’ timeout it took forty-seconds for the team to get an answer goal. Matt White snapped a wrister on Leland Irving that was spilled in front of the mouth of goal where a pair of Admirals were crashing. Max Görtz was able to get a stick to the puck which trickled in just before Félix Girard could get in on the scramble. The goal for Görtz was his thirteenth of the season.
“He just had to wake us up,” said Görtz of the timeout taken by his head coach. “We weren’t ready at the start so that was a good timeout.”
Vladislav Kamenev went to the box for four-minutes following a double minor for high sticking at 8:05 of the first period. Within the first minor penalty the Admirals penalty kill delivered with a shorthanded goal. Adam Payerl won a footrace in neutral ice against Maxime Fortunus, fended off the veteran blueliner, and ripped a low wrister that powered through the pads of Irving to score his tenth goal of the season.
The Admirals managed to claw all the way back from their early deficit to claim their first lead of the game thanks to Cody Bass’ third goal of the season. 10:35 of ice time after the Wild scored their second goal of the game Bass delivered a wrist shot along the far left wing wall that beat Irving near post and in blocker-side to make it a 3-2 Admirals lead.
In the final minute of the first period Kevin Fiala’s scored his thirteenth goal of the season to make it a 4-2 Admirals advantage. Kamenev was able to hit Fiala with a home run pass from deep in the Admirals own zone. From there, Fiala had enough time and space to square up Irving, shoot, get the rebound off of Irving’s right skate, and pop the it home.
For all the fireworks that the first period provided it wouldn’t be until midway through the third period until the next bit of thunder hit. Cody Bass and Kurtis Gabriel paired up for a fight and the two traded some hard rights. The scrap ended with Bass losing his balance and Gabriel landing on top of him. That came just after Bass popped Gabriel’s helmet off with an overhand right. This one could go pretty much either way in the fight cards.
The game would end right where it did after all the drama of the first period. Funny to think that Saros may have been two defensive errors shy of yet another shutout tonight. Without those costly mistakes he was sharp in net once again and picked up his twenty-first win from twenty-eight starts this season.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played on Tuesday night the team reassigned defenseman Garrett Noonan to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Tonight’s line combinations were: Fiala-Kamenev-Payerl, Reinhart-Gaudreau-Åberg, White-Girard-Görtz, Murphy-Pendenza-Bass, Oligny-Potter, Elliott-Aronson, Näkyvä-Mullen. Tonight’s scratches were: Jamie Devane (undisclosed), Cody Hodgson (undisclosed), and Johan Alm (lower body). Prior to tonight’s game there was a late scratch involving forward Jamie Devane. That prompted Trevor Murphy to switch from defense to left wing for the second time this season. Tonight marked the return to game action for Patrick Mullen after missing the previous eight-games due to suffering a skate cut to his right hand against the Iowa Wild on 2/21/16.
What were your reactions to that opening period tonight? How huge was the timeout from Dean Evason? What did you think of the second and third periods of play?
Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.