The Milwaukee Admirals won 6-3 on the road against the Charlotte Checkers Saturday night at the Bojangles’ Coliseum.
This was about as nutty of a game as there has been this entire season. The second period, in particular, speaks for itself. There were twelve combined shots on goal in the second period that resulted in six goals being scored. The Admirals were able to win out in this track meet tonight to extend their point streak up to eleven games.
As has been the theme of this recent run for the Admirals they had a less than stellar start to the contest. The Checkers were dictating the early action and, as a result, earned the game’s opening goal. Brody Sutter whipped a wrister from the right wing circle that beat Juuse Saros against the grain and beat him to his blocker side. The goal for Sutter was his twelfth scored this season.
A little past five-minutes following the Checkers goal the Admirals equalized off of a brilliant rush off the defense by Stefan Elliott. The Admirals defenseman jumped up into the rush, motored down the right wing, swooped past Jake Chelios, and threw the puck low on John Muse that went between his legs to complete a dazzling goal for Elliott’s seventh of the season. The man with the lone assist on the play was Jack Dougherty who was making his professional debut with the Admirals tonight.
Elliott would be targeted moments later after another rush up ice into the attacking zone. As Elliott was cutting around Dane Fox on the left wing wall and racing to the slot, fired a shot on Muse, and was checked to the head by Brock McGinn as he watched his shot get shrugged to the side of the net. Elliott’s helmet went flying off and he stayed down for a few moments but was able to skate back to the Admirals bench under his own power.
The second period might rank as one of the craziest played this season with the Admirals on the ice. The two teams combined for two fights, twelve shots on goal, and six goals being scored with the goals being scored at even-strength, shorthanded, and on the power-play.
Sutter opened up the second period with his second goal of the game to regain the Checkers lead. His shot from the left wing circle took a deflection off of Kristian Näkyvä’s skate and slid underneath Saros for his thirteenth goal of the season.
There were then a pair of fights that followed one after the other. Patrick Mullen and Justin Shugg grappled for a bit before the Admirals defenseman took a scary fall that appeared to see him hit the back of his head on the ice. He was checked over by Admirals head trainer Doug Agnew on the ice and helped back to the locker room. Mullen was able to rejoin the action in the second period. Moments after that fight came and went Jamie Devane paired with Kyle Hagel and the Admirals bruiser unloaded massive uppercuts again, and again, and again. That fight may have dragged out long enough for the both of these two fights and Devane got his money’s worth.
The Admirals then scored twice in the span of 1:30 of ice-time to claim their first lead of the game.
Following a slashing minor against Adam Payerl the Admirals scored their tenth shorthanded goal of the season after Elliott managed to once again burn through the Checkers and scored a brilliant in-tight backhander for his second goal of the game and eighth of the season.
As Payerl exited the box from his penalty he joined Joe Pendenza on a quickfire two-on-one attack that ended with a lofted pass by Pendenza to get past Mike Cornell to reach Payerl in the left wing for a one-timer that beat Muse for his twelfth goal of the season.
Following the goal from Payerl the Checkers called it a night for Muse in net. He stopped 11/14 shots on goal before giving way to Daniel Altshuller who would proceed to face two shots on goal the rest of the second period and allow both pucks to beat him. More on that later because Justin Shugg was able to equalize for the Checkers less than two-minutes after Payerl’s goal that chased Muse from the net. Shugg’s snap shot alluded the glove of Saros for his eleventh goal of the season which made it a 3-3 game.
Altshuller was given a rude introduction to the contest thanks to great link up play between Félix Girard and Matt White. The first shot the Admirals were able to get on the Checkers goalie on in relief beat him with Girard tagging the charging run of White on the right wing to the back post. White’s goal was his eleventh of the season.
Dennis Robertson was called for a tripping minor to give the Admirals their first power-play late in the second period. As time was winding down on the power-play Mullen passed over from the point to the right wing where Kevin Fiala unleashed a slapper that blazed past Altshuller on the second shot he faced in the period to make it 5-3 Admirals. The goal for Fiala was his eighteenth of the season.
Midway through the third period the Admirals were able to tag Altshuller once again with Payerl scoring his second goal of the night. Vladislav Kamenev was able to carve his way through the Checkers defense but lost the handle of the puck just as he was breaking in on goal. Payerl was able to find the loose puck before anyone and whirled a shot from the left side of the net that surprised Altshuller near post and banked in off of him for Payerl’s thirteenth goal of the season.
With 6:14 remaining in regulation the game received its third fight. Jimmy Oligny and Cornell squared off and the heart and soul of the Admirals French Fries trio landed a hard shot that stung Cornell. As the Checkers defenseman was looking to answer that punch by Oligny he fell backwards hard and that was the end of that scene.
The fireworks and scoring would finally, mercifully, end right there. The Admirals may not have had their greatest defensive outing of the season but Saros was able to earn yet another win to push his season tally up to twenty-seven wins. Saros has won ten of his last eleven starts including his last six straight starts. He stopped 19/22 shots on goal tonight against the Checkers.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Wednesday night the team has seen the likes of Corey Potter and Marek Mazanec recalled to the Nashville Predators with Brandon Whitney joining the team from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. In addition, the Predators assigned defenseman Jack Dougherty to the Admirals after he finished up his junior playing season with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. The Admirals dressed seven defensemen and eleven forwards as Dougherty made his professional playing debut tonight in Charlotte. Tonight’s line combinations were: Reinhart-Gaudreau-Åberg, Fiala-Kamenev-Payerl, White-Girard-Görtz, Devane-Pendenza, Näkyvä-Aronson, Oligny-Elliott, Murphy-Mullen, Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Cody Hodgson (upper-body), A.J. White (healthy), and Johan Alm (lower-body).
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Was this the craziest game of the season? Any slight concerns about the defensive outing for the Admirals tonight or does the way the offense responded lessen the sting of that? Should Brock McGinn have been given a match penalty for his head shot to Stefan Elliott? How will tomorrow’s game play out after a roller coaster such as tonight’s game?