The Milwaukee Admirals 3-2 in overtime against the Charlotte Checkers Tuesday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
This year’s group is becoming the cardiac kids at this point. It was yet another display of resiliency that saw the Admirals come all the way back from 2-0 down late in the second period to earn not just a point by reaching overtime but the full allotment with the overtime winner from team captain Trevor Smith. The Admirals have extended their current point streak to six straight games.
“We’d rather not be as resilient as we have been the last few nights,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of what was discussed with the team after the game. “The good part is that we are. If we can figure it out, put a first period together, maybe get a lead, we’d like to see ourselves handle that situation as well. Certainly happy with the way our guys competed and battled and stuck with it again.”
A loose puck battle out in front of Jonas Gunnarsson went the way of the Charlotte Checkers to open the scoring up tonight in the first period. Andrew Poturalski just so happened to be in the right place at the right time when the puck squirted loose to him on the left wing side of Gunnarsson to pop in a rebound and make it 1-0. The tally for Poturalski was his fifth of the season for the Checkers.
The game was staying really tight until five minutes into the second period during an Admirals power-play when the Checkers had a prime opportunity to increase their lead. The Admirals fumbled up a puck at the blue line and the Checkers had a two-on-none shorthanded breakaway. What did it result it though? Absolutely nothing. The Checkers stayed too close and passed themselves too close to the doorstep of Gunnarsson who was able to swat away they’re shorthanded effort towards his blocker side. It could have been a disaster. It ended up just being a gaffe on the part of the Checkers.
After a grinding shift in attack the Checkers did get rewarded with a goal to get that 2-0 lead that alluded them earlier in the second period. Valentin Zykov unleashed a rocket of a wrister as a puck fell to him in the low right wing circle. His shot flew over the glove shoulder of Gunnarsson and banked in off the crossbar and down for his fourth goal of the season.
At the end of the second period the Checkers had a power-play following an interference call against Harry Zolnierczyk. Fortunately, a great penalty kill by Kevin Fiala forced the Checkers into negating that advantage and taking a penalty of their own. Once the four-on-four situation ended Zolnierczyk was able to rip a wrister from the slot that beat Michael Leighton to the glove-side for a power-play goal and his first goal of the season to make it a 2-1 game.
The resiliency of the Admirals has been displayed throughout this season long five-game homestand. That attribute turned up once again as the Admirals finished their rally from down 2-0 to equalize early in the third period. Frédérick Gaudreau was working along the blocker side of Leighton in the low left wing when Vladislav Kamenev delivered a pass towards him and Gaudreau threw a bad angle shot in on the veteran netminder. The puck kicked up and snuck in on the near-post to give Gaudreau his second goal of the season and make it a 2-2 contest.
This game would need overtime to be decided and the Admirals would complete the comeback with a win. Matt White would draw in two Checkers into the left wing corner and deliver a backhanded pass to Admirals captain Trevor Smith who was all alone on Leighton. Smith waited for the five hole to open up and got the shot through for his third goal of the season.
Tip your cap to the new Swede on the block, Gunnarsson. This was his second outing of the season. His first came in an abysmal 6-1 effort from the Admirals on the road against the Iowa Wild. He waited patiently to get another go in net and had the chance tonight to finally shine. He stopped 23/25 shots on goal against the Checkers to earn the first win of his North American professional playing career.
“It feels great,” smiled Jonas Gunnarsson. “It feels a lot better than last time, for sure. It’s been awhile but it was fun being out there again. I’m happy we came back and got a win here. It feels great.”
The Admirals complete the season long five-game homestand with a record of 4-0-1-0 and now have a record of 8-2-1-1 (18 points, 0.750 points percentage). They are next off to do battle with the defending Calder Cup Champions the Cleveland Monsters on the road this Thursday (6 PM CST) and Saturday (4 PM CST). The next time the Admirals will be back on home ice will be next Wednesday when they play against the Grand Rapids Griffins (7 PM CST).
“I can’t describe how great it is for us to be here,” said Evason of the five-game homestand at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. “Bradley Center was wonderful to us but this place has a character to it, has a feel to it that its our rink. I think our fans feel that way. Even on a Tuesday night when there’s not a lot of people here it’s loud, there’s energy, it’s excitement, it’s bright. Our dressing room is so comfortable. It’s a working environment that is good for the staff and it’s great for the players. I think they really respond to it.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Saturday there were a few roster moves made and all of them came at the goaltending position. The Nashville Predators recalled Marek Mazanec in response to a day-to-day injury to Pekka Rinne. This meant the Admirals needing to recall Mark Visentin from their ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were: Adam Pardy (lower-body injury) and Anthony Richard (healthy).
Thoughts on tonight’s game for the Milwaukee Admirals? Do you feel like this nature of coming back in games is the way things are going to be throughout the season or just an early hiccup? What did you think about Jonas Gunnarsson’s start in net tonight for the Admirals as well as Jonathan Diaby’s return to the lineup?
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