Ads Survive Third Period Thriller; Win 5-4

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-4 against the San Antonio Rampage Monday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

This game was a roller coaster in the third period that saw the Admirals go up 4-1 only to have the Rampage fight back with three unanswered goals to tie things up. Yet, the Admirals scored just a minute after the game went 4-4 with a bad angle shot from Jimmy Oligny that would hold up against a late frenzy as the game-winner to end the Admirals two-game skid.

“We stayed positive. We stayed resilient again,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “But we can’t continually keep going to the well.”

After a depleted looking effort in the last two games it was going to be important for the Admirals to show some swagger and energy in tonight’s first period. You can’t quite argue with the opening few shifts, either. The Admirals had a power-play 1:10 into the game and cashed in quickly with a puck that trickled over to Trevor Smith in the low right wing circle for a hard slap shot into an open net with Kent Simpson failing to make a post-to-post stop. For the Admirals captain that was his seventh goal of the season.

It’s been slim pickings for the Admirals as far as highlight reel goals go this season. Most have been rather straight forward or gritty goals around the net. Vladislav Kamenev’s seventh tally of the season changed that.

Jimmy Oligny popped a puck up off the glass from his defensive half into neutral ice that ranged out to the young Russian at the Admirals attacking blueline. Kamenev was able to control the puck, measure up Mason Geertsen for a one-on-one deke, blew past him, and snapped a shot off before Anton Lindholm could close him down on the backcheck. Kamenev’s shot beat Simpson against the grain, high glove-side, bardown, and the Admirals had a 2-0 lead from their first proper highlight reel goal of the season.

The first period did end with a much better push from the Rampage. That effort on their part was rewarded with a goal from Cody Corbett. The soon to be 23-year old defenseman used a crossing screen of Shawn Ouellette-St-Amant that dragged Frédérick Gaudreau along with him to his advantage. The Corbett shot snuck past the moving screen and against Juuse Saros movement with the screen to go high glove-side for his first goal of the season to make it a 2-1 game.

In the second period the Admirals were flirting with penalty troubles again. Yet, they would score during the course of that. On a penalty kill Harry Zolnierczyk took a high stick from Rampage captain Joe Whitney and it gave the Admrials some wiggle room to create on the delayed penalty with Saros getting to the bench and an extra attacking getting to the ice. Some great passing, starting from behind the Admirals net, led to a tic-tac-toe between Kamenev, Matt White, and Pontus Åberg. The Swede kept his shot from the right wing low and beat Simpson for his sixth goal of the season and first with the Admirals since his lengthy NHL spell with the Nashville Predators. That goal, while on the delayed call, was scored as a shorthanded tally for the Admirals.

Jonathan Diaby’s inclusion in tonight’s game with Trevor Murphy out seemed a touch odd at the start of the night. Diaby’s pro career to this point has been a bit of an odyssey punctuated by a strange 2015-16 season with injuries that included a skate cut nearly getting to his femoral artery. Perhaps some rage of days gone by went into the slap shot he uncorked in the third period to record his first career AHL goal and give the Admirals a 4-1 lead.

“It’s pretty cool. It takes a little weight off the shoulders,” commented Jonathan Diaby after the game of recording his first AHL goal. “But it’s not my main concern. I try to focus more on defensive play and everything. But it is cool to score a goal. That’s for sure. It’s good to put up some points.”

The Rampage finally got a chance to get back into the flow of the game following a roughing call against Adam Pardy. The power-play for the Rampage didn’t take too long as a quick face-off win and pass cycle ended with a wicked wrister by Whitney atop the right wing circle that beat Saros high blocker-side for his sixth goal of the season.

That energy followed and the Rampage would score from a poor defensive zone turnover by the Admirals only 1:33 after the Whitney power-play goal. Alex Carrier was pressured behind the Admirals net and tried to spit a puck to the corner for Diaby who fumbled the pass and it fell on a plate for Shawn Ouellette-St-Amant to take an immediate one-timer that zipped high past Saros for his first career AHL goal. What was a 4-1 lead became a 4-3 game in the space of 4:19 of ice-time.

Another power-play came to the Rampage after a Cody Bass slash. This put the Rampage’s top scorer on the season Rocco Grimaldi in the spotlight to complete a three-goal comeback in the space of 9:06 of ice-time. The Rampage worked on the rush to feed Grimaldi down the right wing where he hit a slapper past Saros for his eighth goal of the season to make it 4-4.

“We didn’t like giving up a three-goal lead but there’s a lot of reasons for it,” said Evason. “We didn’t manage the puck very well. Took some silly penalties. We’ve got to clean up our penalties. Even though we think it’s good, bad, or otherwise we’re putting ourselves in positions to take them and we’re taking them.”

That tie only last 1:19 of ice-time. This night and third period, if it wasn’t crazy enough, was put in perspective by Admirals defensemen that aren’t known for scoring goals who actually did just that. Jimmy Oligny was skating along the left wing wall when he threw an innocent looking shot on net. Simpson either misread the shot or it caught a deflection off his own man on the way off Oligny’s shot because the puck sailed over his shoulder and in from a bad angle to get Oligny his first goal of the season and the Admirals their lead back in a flash.

With 1:24 remaining in regulation the Rampage used their timeout to draw up a play for an in-zone face-off with the net emptied and extra attacker on. Pardy would head to the box with forty-three seconds remaining and the Rampage had a six-on-four push. They simply ran out of time and the Admirals survived a thriller by a final score of 5-4.

“It’s not good for the heart I’ll tell you that,” smiled Jimmy Oligny of the stressful game. “Every time that happens it is tough to stay in the game. We didn’t play our best hockey there but we came back to what worked for us. And then we finished it strong.”

The Admirals record improves to 15-5-2-1 (33 points, 0.717 points percentage). This was their last home game until the Christmas break. That next home game comes on Boxing Day when the Chicago Wolves show up. The Admirals are on the road until then for the next four games with travel taking them to face the Texas Stars, Grand Rapids Griffins, and -hey- the Wolves in Chicago. Their next games will be in Texas this weekend on Friday and Saturday night.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played on Saturday there were some reinforcements delivered from the Nashville Predators. Frédérick Gaudreau and Adam Pardy were reassigned from the Admirals parent club and also received Reid Boucher on a two-week (fourteen consecutive days) conditioning assignment. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Florek-Smith-Åberg, Boucher-Gaudreau-White, Zolnierczyk-Kamenev-Bass, Liambas-Girard-Payerl, Pardy-Carrier, Oligny-Dougherty, Diaby-Kessel. Tonight’s scratches were: Max Görtz, Justin Kirkland, Trevor Murphy, and Anthony Richard.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? What did you think of the Milwaukee Admirals response from the two regulation losses on the weekend? Are these penalty issues ever going to get resolved?

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