The Milwaukee Admirals won 6-3 against the Charlotte Checkers at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Friday night.
For the second consecutive game the Admirals allowed a goal from the game’s first shift only to end up rattling off five unanswered goals. Vladislav Kamenev recorded a hat trick on the night as the Admirals pulled off another comeback victory.
“We talked about home ice. We wanted to create a home ice atmosphere, some kind of close to dominance or people not liking to come here,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “And both games we talked about we give up a goal the first shift. It can’t happen. We have to start better and that’s on us, its on the coaching staff, and obviously filters to the players. But the way we continue to work and play the game the right way as the game goes on is really positive for us. It was a nearly carbon copy opening minute tonight as so happened on Wednesday. The Checkers won the opening face-off and were in complete attack mode for a full minute until cycling to a back post feed for Valentin Zykov in the low left wing. He was wide open for a first-time shot that beat Marek Mazanec for his twelfth goal of the season. Clearly you don’t want to keep coming back in hockey games but it is a positive note that we have.”
The Admirals did get a response from their first power-play opportunity. Trevor Smith sent Vladislav Kamenev loose down the right wing where the Russian flicked a backhander near post on Michael Leighton. It was a shot the all-time AHL shutout king would like to have back. Kamenev’s shot rolled up Leighton’s glove arm on the near post and into the net for his eleventh goal of the season.
The first period would end with the Checkers scoring twice on the power-play to take a 3-1 lead. A weak shot by Andrej Nestrasil fumbled its way to the goal mouth where Andrew Poturalski swatted it up and into the net for his tenth goal of the season. The Checkers put together another passing clinic, much like their opening goal, and it ended with a slick no-look backhand pass by Zykov in the low left wing that went through Mazanec and the defending Jimmy Oligny right to the tape of Phil Di Giuseppe who scored on a one-timer for his tenth goal of the season.
In the second period there were quite a few swaps in net. Mazanec had a skate issue which saw Jonas Gunnarsson step in for a brief 1:27 of hockey before Mazanec hopped right back in net. Leighton then suffered an apparent injury and gave way to Alex Nedeljkovic for the Checkers.
By the time that Nedeljkovic had warmed up he saw a puck crawl past him with 1:25 remaining in the second period. Adam Payerl was digging for second and third chance opportunities off of a rebound and the puck tickled back in the slot for Kamenev to put home his second of the night and twelfth goal of the season.
Kamenev was the engine for the Admirals through the opening two periods. Perhaps that is why Poturalski attempted to whip his right leg out in the third period. A scrum quickly broke out and it resulted in Jimmy Oligny pairing up with Kris Newbury for a scrap. The two slugged it out a bit and relented once the punched their gas tanks out.
With less than five minutes remaining in regulation the Admirals managed to equalize. It was a beautifully orchestrated tic-tac-toe play with Mike Ribeiro with the tic right wing for Frédérick Gaudreau who went tac back post for the toe in Kevin Fiala who finished off a thrilling passing play for his seventh goal of the season.
The Admirals would get their first lead of the night with 2:53 remaining in regulation. Justin Kirkland launched a rocket of a wrist shot from the left wing that flew past the near post of Nedeljkovic for the first-year pro’s fifth goal of the season.
“[Scott Ford] has been teaching me a few things coming down the wing,” said Kirkland of his game-winning goal. “He deserves a lot of credit on that goal and he was pretty quick to jump on that too.”
With the net emptied the Admirals were able to work a puck out of their zone and see Kamenev win the skate to the red-line before scoring the empty netter to record a hat trick. It was his first North American pro hat trick and his thirteenth goal of the season.
“[Kamenev] has played really well,” said Evason. “He was real good in all areas of the game. Played well defensively. Good through the neutral zone. And he obviously produced offensively but he skated – he skated real well.”
Going for broke the Checkers stayed empty net and extra attacker. Before the final horn sounded the Admirals put one more puck across after a long range backhander by Anthony Richard sailed in for his third goal of the season to make it a 6-3 Admirals lead.
The Admirals will look to extend this run to three straight wins on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM CST when they face-off against the Checkers once again. After that the Admirals will be on a small break before taking to the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday and Saturday night. They will then travel to see these Checkers on the road to end the month of February and begin the March slate.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Wednesday night there were a few roster moves made. Juuse Saros was recalled by the Nashville Predators while Marek Mazanec was reassigned to the Admirals. Rick Pinkston was released of his PTO Contract with the Admirals and is expected to rejoin the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL. 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 included Derek Army (healthy) and Adam Pardy (compound fracture to left arm).
What were your reactions to tonight’s game? Where did that late game rally come from? Why are the Milwaukee Admirals so flat at the start of games lately?
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