The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-2 against the Cleveland Monsters Tuesday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
The grueling month of January dragged its ugly face to home ice. The result tonight saw an Admirals goaltending change for the first time in nearly a calendar year. The Admirals are now 6-9-0-1 since winning 9-1 on the road in Texas back on 12/17/16 while scoring 2.06 goals per game.
“I don’t care where we played tonight. We weren’t going to win that hockey game. Not the way that we played that game,” commented Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “Four of the five goals were given to them. Absolutely given to them.”
After a series of some great passing the Monsters opened the scoring late in the first period. Marek Mazanec had just shrugged off a shot when a puck fell flat for Sonny Milano in the high left wing circle where he would snap a pass to the back door for Justin Scott to smack a one-timer past the blocker for his eighth goal of the season.
The Admirals looked listless in the second period. When they gave the Monsters their second chance on the power-play they also gave them a prime opportunity to torch a shorthanded attack. Vladislav Kamenev was leading a three-on-three rush from the left wing but his pass for Pontus Åberg was well behind the Swede. This put the Monsters off to the races the other way on a three-on-one in which Oliver Bjorkstrand would patiently avoid the slide-play of Jimmy Oligny to get a wing-to-wing pass to Alex Broadhurst for a first-time shot that would beat Mazanec blocker-side for his ninth goal of the season.
Fortunately the Admirals did get a chance to amend the power-play goal against by scoring one of their own. It had looked like Anton Forsberg had done enough to cover a puck up but he either spilled it or never had it at all because Åberg was quick to race into the net front area and pop a puck through for his eleventh goal of the season to cut the Monsters lead back to a single goal.
In the final two minutes of the second period the Monsters would score twice to make it a sudden and deflating 4-1 lead. John Ramage double clutched a slap shot and then fired one on net that took a redirect off the stick of Bjorkstrand for his twelfth goal of the season. This was followed 1:47 later with an awful turnover behind the net by Trevor Murphy that went right to Joe Pendenza. The former-Admiral quickly shot at the unexpected Mazanec and the shot squeaked through but Shawn Szydlowski made for certain it was a goal by pushing it across for his first career AHL goal in seventy-seven career games in the league.
After that ran its course Mike Liambas attempted to wake-up his team with a fight. He and Brett Gallant gentlemanly but –rulebook unapprovingly– removed their helmets and went at it. The tilt went firmly Gallant’s way.
With energy lacking on the ice, and none brought in during the fight, the Admirals made the conscious decision to swap goaltenders in the second intermission. It was the first time that an Admirals goalie was pulled from a start this season. It had only occurred once all of last season when Juuse Saros was given a short leash on 2/24/16 against the Rockford IceHogs.
“I apologized to [Mazanec],” said Evason of his second intermission decision to swap goaltenders. “In-between the second and third I went in and said that I’ll apologize for the team because I’m part of the team. I’ll apologize for the effort that was put in front of you – it had no bearing on him. We asked them not to hang [Gunnarsson] out to dry like we did with [Mazanec]. There is no reason to leave [Mazanec] in there when we played like that.”
It appeared that the message sent at intermission had impact immediately for the Admirals. It took them thirty-one seconds to get a second goal of the night from Åberg. He whirled a wrister from the high slot as he was falling down that leapt up and over the stick of Forsberg for his twelfth goal of the season.
The Monsters would grab their three-goal advantage back before the midway point of the third period. Jordan Maletta won a footrace to beat Jack Dougherty and head in all alone for a breakaway against Jonas Gunnarsson. Maletta snapped a shot over the glove of the Swede and made it 5-2 Monsters through his sixth goal of the season.
“We can’t be doing what we’ve done against Chicago the other night and tonight against Cleveland,” said Mike Liambas. “We definitely have to clean up our d-zone and we all have to get on the same page. And realize we’re not in the NHL for a reason we’re here in the American League because we’re trying to get there. If you’re not taking care of details, and your d-zone here in the American League, you’ll never get a chance in the NHL – and we won’t win hockey games.”
The game would end there. The Admirals record moves to 23-14-2-2 (50 points, 0.610 points percentage). Next on tap for the Admirals will be a series of hard practices on home ice for the next two days – I’d imagine. They then have two games this weekend at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and see the Stockton Heat and San Jose Barracuda arrive on Friday and Saturday night.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Sunday there have been no roster moves made within the organization. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Florek-Smith-Åberg, White-Kamenev-Fiala, Richard-Kirkland-Gaudreau, Liambas-Payerl-O’Donnell, O’Brien-Carrier, Oligny-Murphy, Pinkston-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Derek Army (healthy), Jonathan Diaby (healthy), and Adam Pardy (upper-body).
What is your reaction to tonight’s game? Was this more trickle over from the previous two games against the Chicago Wolves or are the Milwaukee Admirals just stuck in a low gear right now?
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