The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-1 against the San Antonio Rampage at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Wednesday night.
It may have gotten off on the worst possible start when the returning Félix Girard was able to score from his opening shift in the first minute of the contest. From then on, the Admirals would end up scoring five unanswered goals which largely came in an explosive third period following a successful extended five-on-three penalty kill.
“That was a huge kill,” commented Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We didn’t give them anything on that kill. We shut them down. It gave us a big lift.”
Félix Girard won tonight’s opening face-off against his ol’ teammate Vladislav Kamenev and quickly put on an opening shift clinic with his new team. When Troy Bourke came over the bench he found himself on the puck immediately and was able setup Girard for a one-timer in the low left wing circle. Girard’s shot flew past Juuse Saros for his sixth goal of the season and it came only fifty-seven seconds into the game.
“Sometimes you play against friends and stuff out there but it was the first time for me that I played against twenty of my old friends,” said Girard of his return to Milwaukee as an opponent. “Every time I got into a battle or facing a guy it was my old teammate. So, it was a pretty fun experience.”
The current French Fry contingent in Milwaukee did get an answer five minutes into the first period. Matt White made a slick backhanded chip pass that allowed Frédérick Gaudreau to race across from left to slot and work a shot through Spencer Martin for his eleventh goal of the season to knot things up at 1-1.
There wouldn’t be another tally until the third period when Kevin Fiala was hooked during a breakaway which forced a penalty shot to be called. Fiala swooped around down the slot before finally digging in and releasing a snap shot past the stick side of Martin to record his sixth goal of the season.
The Admirals scored fifty-one seconds later to give themselves a nice two goal cushion. After some battling along the endboards a puck squirted over Kamenev who was able to saucer pass across the lone man defending in front of Martin and tag a wide open Adam Payerl for a tap in and his eleventh goal of the season.
Following a high sticking minor against Duncan Siemens the Admirals made use of their second chance on the power-play with a thrilling series of passes. The Admirals top unit continually controlled the attacking zone and eventually broke down to a sweet pass by Pontus Åberg from the left wing to Mike Ribeiro on the back post to score his first AHL goal since the 2001-02 season as a member of the Québec Citadelles.
It might not have been needed but the Admirals added one last tally with thirty-nine seconds remaining in regulation to make it five unanswered goals. Gaudreau was on the puck down the right wing on what was more so a two-on-two across the wings. He was able to zip a pass backdoor for Trevor Murphy who dinked enough of it over to record his eleventh goal of the season and make it a 5-1 contest.
The Admirals would seal it on that tally. It goes down as just another win for Saros who on this season has won thirteen games from fifteen starts as a member of the Admirals. He may have gave up the early goal to Girard but it was the only goal he allowed from twenty-six shots faced.
“Yeah, but if someone has to score on our team I’m happy to see him even though I don’t want to let in goals,” smiled Saros. “Good for him.”
Next on tap for the Admirals will be the Charlotte Checkers for two games this weekend. Friday night at 7:00 PM CST in which the Admirals will be wearing Slap Shot themes uniforms and then on Sunday at 3:00 PM CST which is Salute to Wrestling Night.
“We talked about it before to play especially better at home,” said Pontus Åberg. “This is our building and we need to step up and make the other teams not want to come here and play. That’s going to be our goal for the next couple of games here.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Sunday night they received Juuse Saros and Pontus Åberg from the Nashville Predators and saw Marek Mazanec get recalled. The Predators are currently on their mandated “bye week” for the NHL and it is expected that Saros and Mazanec will be rotating the moment that the Predators can resume operation. Tonight’s line combinations were: Fiala-Ribeiro-Åberg, White-Smith-Gaudreau, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Liambas-Florek-Richard, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Derek Army (healthy), Adam Pardy (upper-body), and Rick Pinkston (healthy).
What is your reaction to tonight’s game? Was this the sort of night -and third period- that the Milwaukee Admirals needed to finally breakout of their funk?
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