The Milwaukee Admirals won 4-1 against the Grand Rapids Griffins Tuesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
“It’s one game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “Clearly we know where we’re at, the group knows where they’re at, and it was an important game. But we didn’t approach it any differently that any other game.”
In this showdown of the top two teams in the Central Division things were rather tight through two period of play. The score at the start of the third period was 2-1 with the Griffins having scored the last goal in the contest. In the opening 1:39 of the third period the Admirals raced out to score a pair of goals that would see them through to the finish line. The Admirals point streak is now up to seven-games. The Griffins losing streak is now up to four-games.
“Real happy the way we competed,” said Evason. “We did a lot of real good things in order to give ourselves a chance to have success.”
Despite a slow start the Admirals appeared to find their groove after a great play on the penalty kill by Félix Girard earned a penalty against the Griffins and changed momentum. The Admirals wouldn’t cash in on their abbreviated power-play chance that Girard provided but would on their first crack at a full-length power-play opportunity.
Martin Frk went to the box for a holding minor that took place in the Griffins attacking zone. Setting his sights from the right wing circle was Vladislav Kamenev and his slap shot buzzed through traffic, and Jared Coreau in net, to record his thirteenth goal of the season and provide the Admirals with an early lead.
The Admirals ended the first period on an extended five-on-three penalty kill. Adam Payerl sat down in the penalty box for slashing and he would be accompanied by Jimmy Oligny after a boarding minor against Mitch Callahan which put the Griffins on a 1:09 long five-on-three power-play. Taylor Aronson was laying out repeatedly in front of Juuse Saros to negate back-post passes from in-close and the Admirals were able to survive the rest of the opening stanza with a 1-0 lead. At the start of the second period, they took care of the last six-seconds of the two man advantage for the Griffins and the final fifty-one seconds of Oligny’s penalty to get out of an early jam.
“We had a lot of kills in the first,” said Pontus Åberg after the game. “That sucks for us guys that are not playing on the penalty kill but the guys did a good job out there and kept them from scoring. That was huge for us.”
After being part of a great penalty kill Aronson decided to add yet another primary assist to his night by helping see Matt White reach double-digits for goals this season. Aronson raced around the boards from the right wing and, just before he was about to wrap around the net, delivered a pass to the tape of White for a one-timer that Coreau never saw coming.
“We talked about it right before the draw,” said Taylor Aronson of the set play off the face-off. “We talked about where to go and made it work. Luckily it worked out.”
The Griffins were able to respond quickly to White’s tenth goal of the season. 2:22 of ice-time elapsed saw Mark Zengerle tag Any Miele to his opposite wing to give the Griffins leading points scorer add to his total. Miele’s wrister from the left wing circle was blistered into the top shelf past Saros’ glove side. So much so, the officials had quite a bit of trouble retrieving the puck that wound up getting stuck in the netting from Miele’s fifteenth goal of the season.
A mere twenty-seven seconds into the third period and the Admirals re-established their two-goal lead. Stefan Elliott hopped up from the blue line, faked out Eric Tangradi, and proceeded to fling a wrist shot through traffic for his sixth goal of the season and his first being scored not on an Admirals power-play.
Things went from bad to worse for the Griffins third period start. Pontus Åberg forced a really bad turnover out of Martin Frk and it sent Max Reinhart off on a breakaway where he dusted off Coreau with a backhander over the glove to score his twentieth goal of the season. The goals from Elliott and Reinhart were scored 1:12 apart from one another.
“Our group has been resilient,” commented Evason of the Admirals coming back strongly to start the third period. “That’s something that has been a real positive for us. When we’ve had situations where we could possibly have a let down we’ve been able to find something. Maybe it’s not even a goal. Maybe it’s a penalty kill – a momentum swing. Certainly a key factor is our leadership group.”
Ramblings: Prior to the start of tonight’s game the Milwaukee Admirals announced that they had signed goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris to a PTO contract to serve as an emergency back-up with Marek Mazanec out of the lineup. Tonight’s line combinations were: Reinhart-Gaudreau-Åberg, Murphy-Kamenev-Payerl, White-Girard-Görtz, Devane-Bass-Pendenza, Elliott-Mullen, Oligny-Potter, Näkyvä-Aronson. Tonight’s Scratches: Kevin Fiala (suspended by team for a violation of team rules), Cody Hodgson (upper-body), Marek Mazanec (undisclosed), and Johan Alm (lower-body).
Thought’s on tonight’s game? Seeing this level of a performance against the Grand Rapids – what do you currently think of these Milwaukee Admirals? How important was this win against the Griffins for the race to win a division title?
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