The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-3 in overtime against the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
This one was a heartbreaker considering how the Admirals rallied back from a 3-0 hole to earn a point in overtime. There were some blunders in this game and it ultimately cost them the outright win over the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season.
“We talked to the group after that they did not deserve that result,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “We played hard. We played real hard and for us to fight back like that.. clearly it’s disappointing with the effort that we thought that we got from most all our players. The effort was there. It’s disappointing, but we do have to use it as a positive that the resilience is good.”
A big gaffe from Marek Mazanec allowed for the Griffins to take a first period lead. Mazanec, who is known for being pretty good at handling the puck, got a bit overconfident with his abilities and passed from his net into traffic to essentially set up the primary assist on a Colin Campbell tap in. The goal for Campbell was his second of the season and, outside of empty netters, I doubt they’ll be any easier than that.
The Griffins extended their first period lead to 2-0 with a power-play goal from Mitch Callahan. The Griffins power-play came following what appeared to be a shoulder to chest hit by Mike Liambas that knocked over Tomas Nosek but was called an elbowing minor. After a shot by Martin Frk hit off the pads of Mazanec the rebound kicked over to the left wing where Callahan was able pop the puck in with the Czech netminder scrambling out of position. The goal for Callahan was his third of the season.
It took the Griffins just forty seconds to score once again. The first goal allowed by the Admirals was a blunder from Mazanec. The third goal allowed was plain bad luck. Kevin Fiala was tripped up and it spurred a rush for the Griffins that had a tight two-on-one in on goal. The pass across from the left wing to the right wing by Louis-Marc Aubry ended up getting deflected by Admirals defenseman Jack Dougherty and right through Mazanec to make it a 3-0 Griffins lead in 10:22 of ice-time. The goal does get credited to Aubry as the last Griffins player to touch it before going in and it was his second tally of the season.
A power-play late in the second period appeared to finally calm the Admirals down and shake the life back into their offense. It didn’t result in a power-play goal but thirty-one seconds after the white hot power-play came to a close a different sort of white hot took center stage. A shot from the point by Jack Dougherty deflected off of Matt White’s stick in the slot and past Griffins goaltender Eddie Pasquale for his team leading sixth goal of the season.
The Admirals would answer right back only twenty-nine seconds later to cut the deficit to a single goal advantage for the Griffins. Adam Pardy managed to race in down the right wing and whip a wrister while shuffling between defenders to record his second goal since being acquired from the Springfield Falcons.
A noteworthy hit took place in the final two minutes of the second period. The Admirals were countering out of the defensive half of the ice when Harry Zolnierczyk attempted to dump a puck around Joe Hicketts and skate around the opposite side of him. Rather than get into a foot race Hicketts went for a low hip check to the knees of Zolnierczyk and sent the veteran forward airborne and landing onto his head. Justin Kirkland went straight after Hicketts but no fight took place. After the scrum dissipated the lone penalty assessed was a roughing minor against Kirkland. Thankfully Zolnierczyk returned to the contest and nothing came from the following Griffins power-play.
Ads sustained plenty of attacking pressure throughout the third period but would still find themselves trailing 3-2 late. At 1:41 the Admirals used their timeout and brought Mazanec to the bench to play with the extra attacker. The Admirals would cash in after Kevin Fiala’s shot to Pasquale fell free and was jammed in by Adam Payerl for his fourth goal of the season to complete the three goal deficit comeback.
The Admirals would earn a point by pushing the game into overtime but sadly the same situation that started the game ended it. Mazanec tried an up-ice pass from his net and it went right to the tape of a Griffins player for a goal. The area where it hurts even more? The goal scorer was the man behind the low hit on Zolnierczyk – Hicketts.
“I saw our guy. He was looking at me and so I thought I could give it to him and he’s going to go,” said Marek Mazanec of his pass in overtime. “The pass didn’t work out for me as I expected. I wanted to make a difference in the game and it didn’t work well. It cost us the game.”
The defeat for the Admirals snaps a four game winnings streak but they do claw back from 3-0 down tonight to earn a point from a game they may have easily thrown in the garbage early. It was still a hard earned point, disappointing finish, but another point earned from a night when things weren’t close to as good as they can be.
“We can’t continually say we’re a resilient group and that’s great and we keep coming back,” stated Evason in response to the team’s comeback efforts in recent games. “You have to correct why we’re being a resilient group. We want to be a resilient group being up and maybe showing our discipline in being resilient.”
Next on tap for the Admirals will be the Charlotte Checkers on Tuesday night which will finish up the team’s season long five-game homestand. It will be the first meeting between the Admirals and Checkers in the 2016-17 season.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Wednesday they recalled defenseman Jonathan Diaby from their ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones. Diaby, along with forward Anthony Richard, were healthy scratches for the Admirals tonight. With the overtime loss tonight the Admirals are now 9-18-2-3 against the Griffins the last three seasons including last year’s playoff series.
What were your thoughts on tonight’s performance for the Milwaukee Admirals? Would you feel Marek Mazanec is ready for an NHL return after a showing such as tonight or should the Nashville Predators keep him down for longer? Despite the poor opening period did you appreciate the response from the second period onwards?
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