The Milwaukee Admirals won 3-0 against the Iowa Wild Wednesday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
He might not be seeing the net all that often this season but Jonas Gunnarsson came up big when required tonight. He stopped all twenty-five shots on goal to record the first career shutout of his North American pro playing career as the Admirals snapped a three-game losing skid.
“We talked to the group yesterday and we hoped that -that- was rock bottom,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game of the three-game losing streak. “There’s only one way to go when you’re on the bottom and that’s up. And we did that.”
In the opening phase of the game the Admirals found themselves on a four-on-two rush that they were able to cash in from for a quick lead. Rick Pinkston, who had signed a PTO Contract with the Admirals from the Manchester Monarchs (ECHL) prior to the game, spearheaded the rush down the left wing and cranked a slap shot low that hit off the pads of Alex Stalock and into the path of Mike Liambas for his third goal of the season.
In sixteen seconds of the second period the Admirals were given their first power-play opportunity of the evening. The Admirals worked quickly on that power-play chance and saw a beauty of a backhander from Frédérick Gaudreau go in for his fifth goal of the season. Matt White had put a puck towards the net and Alex Carrier was rushing through towards the goal area. Gaudreau happened to cradle the puck out in front of Stalock, patiently move towards his blocker-side, and pop the backhander into the open net.
The Admirals made it three-for-three when it comes to scoring early period goals. Just 2:16 into the third period and Justin Kirkland smacked a slap shot from the left wing and it soared past Stalock for his first career AHL and Admirals goal to make it a 3-0 lead.
“That’s what it is all about,” smiled Frédérick Gaudreau when speaking about the night’s performances for Justin Kirkland and Jonas Gunnarsson. “To get night’s like that for those guys it feels good for everyone. We see them all the time in practice and they work so hard. So, for us – all the players, to see them having success like that it feels good.”
With 4:19 remaining in regulation, and on the power-play, the Wild brought Stalock to the bench to get the extra attacker on. This attempt to fight back was stunted with 2:49 remaining as Christoph Bertschy was called for a tripping minor. They would never attempt to bring an extra attacker back on from that point forward. And the Admirals shut the door with a 3-0 win.
Jonas Gunnarsson stopped all twenty-five shots on goal net tonight. This was only his fifth start of the season for the Admirals has the Swede has patiently waited for opportunities to play while Juuse Saros and Marek Mazanec traded places between the NHL and AHL. The calm effort in net that he provided help give a nice foundation for the Admirals to spring forward from and get back to winning ways and having fun back on the ice.
“That’s the thing that made us successful this year,” commented Jonas Gunnarsson. “We’re a tight group of guys that have fun together and play hard together. We felt like we needed to get back to that and I think that we did today.”
This was the final home game for the Admirals in 2016. They finish off the calendar with a road game this Friday night at 7:00 PM CST when they play against the Chicago Wolves.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Monday there was one roster move of note and it came not too long before tonight’s game. The Admirals added defenseman Rick Pinkston from the Manchester Monarchs (ECHL) on a PTO Contract. Pinkston follows the likes of Matt White, Zac Larraza, and Matt Leitner as PTO signings by the Admirals from Manchester (ECHL) in the past year. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Zolnierczyk-Smith-Gaudreau, Florek-Kirkland-Bass, White-Kamenev-Åberg, Liambas-Girard-Payerl, Oligny-Carrier, Pinkston-Murphy, Diaby-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were both healthy: Max Görtz and Blake Kessel. In the second period of tonight’s game Cody Bass clashed legs between the bench-side area and left the game favoring his right leg. Bass did not return.
What is your reaction to tonight’s game? Was this a solid bounce back performance for the Milwaukee Admirals? How did you view Jonas Gunnarsson’s effort given just how little he has been afforded time in net for the Admirals this season?
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