Tough Sledding; Ads Lose 2-1 in Rockford

(Photo Credit: Greg Hamil)
(Photo Credit: Greg Hamil)

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 2-1 on the road against the Rockford IceHogs at the BMO Harris Bank Center on Sunday evening.

It was a very defensively sound game for both sides tonight. Unfortunately the game tilted the wrong way late in the third period and then saw time run out before the Admirals could rally back to force overtime.

This game started with the news that Jonas Gunnarsson was finally being rotated in net for a start. It was Gunnarsson’s first start since 1/10/17 when the team lost 5-1 at home against the Charlotte Checkers. His last appearance came during a third period relief appearance of Marek Mazanec on 1/24/17 against the Cleveland Monsters. Tonight was Gunnarsson’s ninth appearance of the season for the Admirals. This time last year he had already played 40 games as a member of the Malmö Redhawks in the SHL.

You would think then some rust would show in Gunnarsson’s performance tonight after over a month’s time had elapsed since his last start. It wasn’t to be the case. He was tested early and often by the IceHogs who peppered him with twenty-three shots in the opening two periods. He would have an answer to all of those scoring attempts.

“It felt pretty good,” said Gunnarsson. “I got into the game early with a few shots. Then just went from there.”

The game itself was a defensive chess match with bodies and sticks taking away shots and passes left and right. The game wouldn’t find its first goal until 48:34 of the contest. Sam Carrick had a foot race down the left wing against Jimmy Oligny and his initial shot would get stopped by Gunnarsson but fall free for a follow-up chance. Carrick got to the rebound opportunity and popped it over Gunnarsson for his eleventh goal of the season.

With 1:48 remaining in regulation the Admirals used their timeout and brought Gunnarsson to the bench to bring the extra attacker on with an attacking zone face-off in front of them. That went away just twelve seconds later when the officials called Vladislav Kamenev for a roughing minor. The Russian, trying to figure out how that happened, worked himself into a misconduct penalty and he was guided off the ice.

“They said that he jabbed on the bench, that’s why they grabbed his stick, and then he took a swing. He said he didn’t have to take a swing,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of the officials explanation of the late penalty against Kamenev. “But, you watch it, Latta hits him first and then goes to the bench and they have an exchange. It should have been four-on-four. I mean it’s ridiculous. 0.1% that doesn’t get called by both guys.”

The Admirals would continue to push with their net emptied but it saw Kevin Fiala get hauled down with no call and then a shot by Jeremy Langlois fly into the empty net for his fifth of the season to make it a 2-0 game.

“It’s hard to take some times,” said Evason. “Obviously you think that call should be made and then not. But [the officials] are human and make mistakes.”

Trevor Murphy would hammer in a slap shot for his tenth goal of the season with just 9.6 seconds remaining to deny Jeff Glass a shutout tonight. The IceHogs took their timeout after Murphy’s goal and they would hold on for the remaining ticks of the clock to earn the 2-1 win in Rockford.

Gunnarsson was terrific in net for the Admirals in his first start in over a month. He picks up a tough luck loss having stopped all but one of the thirty shots he faced in net tonight. The Admirals next return home where Félix Girard and the San Antonio Rampage will be awaiting them on Wednesday night for a 7:00 PM CST face-off.

“We were looking today before the game at [Girard’s] stats,” said Evason. “We miss [Girard]. We miss his grit, his presence in the room. And it will be nice to see him again.”

Ramblings: There were no roster moves made by the organization since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night. Though, if tonight’s opponent was any indication with their roster moves made in the morning, be on the lookout tomorrow to see if the Nashville Predators try to assign some bodies to the AHL during their mandated work stoppage period. Tonight’s line combinations were: Fiala-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, Florek-Smith-White, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Liambas-Army-Richard, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Adam Pardy (upper-body) and Rick Pinkston (healthy).

What is your reaction to tonight’s game? Where is the Milwaukee Admirals offense lately? Is this Admirals team still in a bit of an identity crisis?

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