White Knuckler; Ads Hold On For 5-3 Win in Grand Rapids

(Photo Credit: Mark Newman)
(Photo Credit: Mark Newman)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-3 on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the Van Andel Arena on Friday night.

It is always a beautiful thing for the Admirals to escape the dreaded House of Horrors in Grand Rapids with a win but they ended up making this game far more terrifying than it had any right to be. The Admirals jumped to a 4-0 lead only to see the Griffins rally back with three third period goals. The game would get sealed with an Adam Payerl empty netter to finally relieve the tension to see the Admirals extend their winning streak to four games.

After a lackluster first period that saw mostly chances for the Griffins go begging things didn’t intensify until the next frame. Adam Payerl and Dan Renouf started the second period off with a scrap. There weren’t too many punches that clearly landed but the most obvious one that did was an over-hand right by Payerl. That’s enough to give him the win in my fight card, anyways.

Past the midway point in the contest the Admirals found the first breakthrough. Frédérick Gaudreau was racing down the slot with the puck which scattered back behind him where Anthony Richard popped a low shot to the net. Gaudreau continued his run and was able to get the rebound from Jared Coreau’s left pad save with a backhander to record his fourteenth goal of the season.

In the final minutes of the second period the Admirals added another tally to make it a 2-0 lead. Trevor Murphy was racing around the boards when he decided to push a puck towards the net front area from the left wing corner. Murphy’s shot appeared to hit off the leg of defenseman Brian Lashoff and everyone around the net lost sight of the puck. That is everyone except Justin Kirkland who was quick to poke the loose puck in for his sixth AHL goal of the season.

The hot run for Gaudreau would continue with a beauty of a goal for his second of the night. Richard was gliding down the left wing as Gaudreau was opposite wing with two defenders around them. Richard lofted a pass up towards the net and it looked like Coreau might get a glove to it but Gaudreau batted it out of mid-air to notch his fifteenth goal of the season.

Pontus Åberg then followed Gaudreau’s footsteps by tallying his fifteenth goal of the season, as well. Petter Granberg ripped a low shot from the right wing wall that kicked out for Matt White to go digging for a rebound. As it so happens that rebound opportunity ended up shifting to the left side of goal for Åberg to collect the goods and give the Admirals a 4-0 lead.

The Griffins would draw one back after getting 1:27 worth of five-on-three power-play time. Their approach was rather straight forward: shoot the puck. Eventually Matt Lorito setup a backdoor feed for Mitch Callahan from the low left wing for a one-timer that Marek Mazanec had little hope to stop. The goal was Callahan’s fourteenth scored this season.

The run for the Griffins would continue as Tomas Nosek flew around the endboards and dished a pass into the net front area where Martin Frk was able to get a one-timer off and then secure his own rebound to earn his nineteenth goal of the season.

It then shockingly became a one-goal game as the Griffins scored their third goal in the space of 5:35 of ice time to make it a 4-3 Admirals lead. Yevgeni Svechnikov appeared to vault Jack Dougherty from the back into Mazanec. In the scramble that followed Tyler Bertuzzi whipped a low backhander past the Czech netminder just as he was settling back into the cage. There was no fuss made for goaltender interference and it isn’t even reviewable in the AHL. That meant Bertuzzi had himself his ninth goal of the season.

The ending was a bizarre one. The Admirals had a power-play with 3:14 remaining in regulation. As that was starting to roll along Trevor Smith would tangle up slightly with former Admirals defenseman Conor Allen who proceeded to throw right haymakers to the face of the Admirals captain. The resulting penalties saw the Admirals go on a two-man advantage and Allen exit with a misconduct.

It would have been nice for the Admirals to treat the resulting five-on-three power-play like exactly what it is but they instead proceeded to play a game of keep away. The Griffins killed the penalty off and then had the chance in a one-goal game to go empty net and extra attacker to push in the dying seconds for overtime. Thankfully Adam Payerl helped to see that not be the case as his empty netter would result in the final score to make it a 5-3 Admirals win in Grand Rapids tonight. Payerl has now set a career high this season in points scored in the AHL with thirty and his empty netter matched his career high goal total from a season ago with his thirteenth.

Tomorrow night the Admirals are back in action, same time and same place, against these very same Griffins. I suspect that the “rest vs. rust” factor will be a non-issue as they lock horns tomorrow so the Admirals are going to need to do a bit better job knuckling down for a win than they did at the end of this contest. It was far closer than it needed to be.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Sunday there were no roster moves made by the organization. Tonight’s line combinations were: White-Smith-Åberg, Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s lone scratch was Adam Pardy who missed his fifteenth straight game after suffering a compound fracture to his left arm. Mike Ribeiro recorded three assists in tonight’s contest. The last three-games that the Admirals won in Grand Rapids came with the Griffins starting goaltender in on a conditioning assignment.

What is your reaction to tonight’s game? Did the Milwaukee Admirals get a solid result tonight with this win over the Grand Rapids Griffins or did that finish take some of the edge off? What will the Admirals need to do tomorrow to slow down the attack of the Griffins that almost saw a 4-0 lead evaporate late tonight?

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