The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 on the road against the San Antonio Rampage Saturday night at the AT&T Center. Vladislav Kamenev scored the game-winner midway through the third period off a partial breakaway from a neutral ice turnover and the Admirals would hold to that until the final horn sounded.
Things kicked off with a bang as the Admirals were able to capitalize off of their first power-play opportunity of the season. An incredible series of passes by the second power-play unit was finished with a wing-to-wing feed from Trevor Smith right into Pontus Åberg’s wheelhouse for the first goal of the season.
It became apparent around the second period that the rarity to tonight’s game would be seeing these two teams playing at even strength. By the end of the second period both sides had six power-play opportunities and a total of fourteen penalty minutes.
Naturally, this wave of penalties eventually led to a breakthrough for the Rampage on, what else, the power-play. A shot by Mikko Rantanen knuckled in on Juuse Saros and trickled out for A.J. Greer to pop in the rebound and make this a 1-1 contest at the midway point.
In the third period the game finally saw a goal scored at even strength. Harry Zolnierczyk caught Chris Bigras with a check in neutral ice that freed the puck up for Vladislav Kamenev to race down the right wing on a partial breakaway. Former Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith appeared to be leaning to his right as though Kamenev was going to pass to his left wing but he instead fired a shot on goal. The initial attempt was stopped by Kamenev shoved the rebound across for the go-ahead goal to make it a 2-1 Admirals lead with 11:22 left to play in regulation.
With 1:01 left to play in the third period the Rampage looked to take advantage of an icing from the Admirals by taking their timeout and pulling Smith to put the extra attacker on. Unfortunate for them nothing came of it. The best scoring chance in the final minute came with an empty netter bid by Admirals captain Trevor Smith spanking the crossbar off a shot from the blueline. The Admirals would basically cycle the puck in the offensive zone until time expired to secure win one in game one.
This was a slop fest of a game in the penalty department. The Admirals had seven power-plays while the Rampage had nine. The two teams combined for forty penalty minutes.
What can be taken away from the opener was a solid performance in net by Juuse Saros who, while not facing too much pressure, came away with a twenty-two save performance while just allowing the power-play goal that came off a rebounder. It was also a strong performance from defenseman Matt Irwin who looked every bit the part of the veteran defenseman he was brought in to be.
These two lock horns once again tomorrow afternoon in San Antonio. That game starts up at 3:00 PM CDT. I have to imagine both teams will be looking to minimize trips to the penalty box.
Ramblings: Tonight’s line combinations were exactly as they have been throughout this past week of practice. That meant that your healthy scratches on the night were Matt White, Justin Kirkland, and Jonathan Diaby. The Admirals have won the last five straight meetings against the San Antonio Rampage which spans tonight and all of last season. The last time the Rampage defeated the Admirals came on 3/25/15 in Milwaukee on a 4-3 shootout victory when the Rampage were part of the Florida Panthers organization.
Reaction to tonight’s season opener? How did you feel the team played? Do you get the impression it is going to take a few games before this Admirals team will really start to dial everything in?
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