The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-2 against the San Jose Barracuda at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Saturday night.
As great as last night was it was as equally important for the Admirals to sustain the performance level that was shown. That hit a snag as the Barracuda extended their winning streak to three straight games.
“The things that we did real well last night we didn’t do real well tonight,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “Certainly early in the hockey game to give them momentum and obviously the lead. We talk about it. We’re striving for consistency and it’s not there yet.”
It took the Barracuda thirty-six seconds to do what the Stockton Heat could not all last night. Kevin Labanc was off on a breakaway down the slot and worked Marek Mazanec open to pop a shot five-hole for his fifth goal of the season to make it an early 1-0 game.
Fortunately, the Admirals were able to get a quick response minutes later. Anthony Richard made a heads up defensive play to keep puck possession in the Admirals favor in the attacking zone. His initial shot missed well wide of the net and wrapped around to the left point where Andrew O’Brien quickly shot on net. Troy Grosenick did shrug off the point shot but left the rebound for Richard to smack it past for his second goal of the season to make it 1-1.
In the second period the Barracuda scored twice to get ahead 3-1. Nikolai Goldobin worked off the rush to zip a shot with enough wheels on it that it still rolled through Mazanec. That was followed by a blast from the right point by Tim Heed whose slap shot screamed past high-glove.
The Admirals did draw one of those goals back in the sandwich stanza through a four-on-three power-play chance. Pontus Åberg made a silky smooth pass along the ice from the left wing circle right to the tape of Frédérick Gaudreau on the doorstep for a quick-fire redirect past Grosenick. That goal for Gaudreau was his sixth scored on the season and it narrowed the Barracuda’s lead to 3-2.
In the last stages of the third period the Barracuda regained their two-goal lead. Barclay Goodrow was open in the low left wing as John McCarthy passed from deep to the blocker-side of Mazanec. The Admirals goaltender may have been guilty of cheating too far on McCarthy and ended up allowing Goodrow plenty of net to fire on for his fourteenth goal of the season.
Trevor Smith was called for an elbowing major and a game-misconduct with 6:17 remaining in regulation. He had caught Adam Helewka right as the puck came to him with his head down. Replay showed it to be much more shoulder than elbow but the decision on the ice saw the Admirals captain ejected.
“It’s not a penalty,” said Evason. “It’s simply not a penalty. So, it is tough to take. You’re pushing. You’re trying to get back in the hockey game and you get a call like that. I just don’t get it.”
Kevin Fiala earned a penalty shot while the Admirals were in the five-minute major penalty kill. With his attempt he swung out wide right and slowly slid across to angle forehand to the blocker-side of Grosenick but the Barracuda netminder out-waited him until there was no shot to be had.
The game would finish there. The 4-2 loss for the Admirals leaves a slightly sour taste after a grueling week that saw promising steps forward last night in a shutout effort over the Stockton Heat.
“We had our opportunities to score,” said Evason of the Admirals effort late in the game. “We did enough things well to score but we got some different bad circumstances that didn’t allow us. We thought we were really pushing at the end.”
Next on tap is the AHL All-Star break for the league. The All-Star festivities begin tomorrow night at 6:30 PM CST with the AHL All-Star Skills Competition from the home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The AHL All-Star Classic is on Monday night at 6:00 PM CST.
The next game for the Admirals will be on home ice against the Rockford IceHogs on Friday night at 7:00 PM CST. They follow that up the next night by playing against the Grand Rapids Griffins on the road at the Van Andel Arena at 6:00 PM CST.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there were no roster moves made within the organization. The Nashville Predators are on their NHL All-Star break and the NHL All-Star Skills Competition took place tonight in Los Angeles with the NHL All-Star Game taking place tomorrow at 2:30 PM CST. The Admirals lone representative this year is first-year pro defenseman Alex Carrier. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: White-Smith-Åberg, Florek-Kirkland-Fiala, Richard-Kamenev-Gaudreau, Liambas-Army-Payerl, Oligny-Carrier, Pinkston-Murphy, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Jonathan Diaby (healthy), Sean O’Donnell (healthy), and Adam Pardy (upper-body).
What is your reaction to tonight’s game? Would you view this as a major setback for what the Milwaukee Admirals gained Friday night or can credit be given to the San Jose Barracuda? Will the AHL All-Star break benefit the Admirals to mentally check out and physically rest up?
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