The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 on the road against the Chicago Wolves Wednesday night at the Allstate Arena. The Admirals were able to hold to a power-play goal in the second period by Austin Watson all the way to the finish line to start the season off with three consecutive 2-1 victories.
The penalty woes that turned an ugly head in San Antonio manifested in Chicago early. The Admirals found themselves shorthanded four times in the first period and the Wolves were able to cash in off one of those opportunities. A feed from the left point by Brad Hunt went over to the right wing circle where Kenny Agostino hammered a one-timer on goal. His short appeared to deflect a touch off of Admirals defenseman Matt Irwin before getting past Juuse Saros to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead from a power-play goal.
The Wolves lead didn’t last long at all. Just thirty-nine seconds after the Wolves scored on the power-play a skillful piece of puckhandling by Pontus Åberg ended with a wicked shot at the top of the right wing circle. Pheonix Copley blockered the Åberg shot in front of the net and Ads captain Trevor Smith was able to pop home the rebound to level things at 1-1.
Penalties continued to mount and finally the Admirals were able to cash in for their second power-play goal of the season. Vladislav Kamenev completed a circle-to-circle pass to Austin Watson in the right wing. Watson measured up his wrist shot and beat Copley to the far post and in to record his first AHL goal since 4/7/15.
The Admirals would hold to that 2-1 scoreline yet again to secure their third win from three games to start the season. All wins have come at the 2-1 scoreline. Saros came up really big down the stretch in tonight’s contest. He ended the night with thirty saves and quite a few big time stops as the Wolves went empty net and extra attacker in the dying seconds.
As nice as these wins have been for the Admirals a major talking point remains to be the issue with taking trips to the penalty box. Last season the Admirals through three games had sixty penalty minutes from nineteen infractions with a 7/13 penalty kill. This season the Admirals have fifty-nine penalty minutes from twenty-eight infractions with a 21/24 penalty kill in their first three games of the season. That penalty kill has been fantastic, no doubt, but the amount of penalties being taken is laboring to the penalty kill and breaks up so much of the flow for the offense to roll when so much of the game is spent on special teams. In short: it has to change.
Next up for the Admirals will be a road tilt against the Rockford IceHogs this Saturday night at 7:00 PM CDT. They will then get a relatively nice spot of downtime before a home-and-home between the Iowa Wild with a game in Iowa next Friday. That sets the stage for the Admirals home opener against the Wild next Saturday at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Sunday the team assigned forward Justin Kirkland to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Kirkland made his pro hockey debut last night in the Cyclones 5-0 shutout defeat to the Toledo Walleye. The line combinations for the Admirals was exactly the same as it was in the weekend opening set in San Antonio. That meant healthy scratches for Matt White and Jonathan Diaby. Austin Watson’s goal tonight was his sixty-ninth career AHL goal and it was scored in his two-hundred and thirty-second AHL appearance. All AHL goals scored by Watson have come with the Admirals. He is fourth in the team’s AHL history in goal scoring behind Darren Haydar (110), Chris Mueller (87), and Mike Santorelli (74).
Are you concerned by the volume of penalties being taken by the Milwaukee Admirals out the gate this season? How impressive has Juuse Saros looked in net these first three-games? Are you underwhelmed at all by the lack of offensive output thus far?
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