The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-2 against the Rockford IceHogs at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Friday night.
The Admirals were caught out by another less than favorable second period but the explosive duo of Pontus Åberg and Frédérick Gaudreau helped get them back to winning ways tonight. The surging forwards both popped home a pair of goals as the Admirals got the best of the IceHogs on home ice.
“They not only scoring goals they are playing the right way – both of them,” commented Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of Åberg and Gaudreau. “Both kill penalties. Both are on the power-play, obviously. It’s exciting. Obviously, the goals are there, you see that, but they are both playing extremely well.”
To get the Admirals off the mark in the first period they saw contributions from their latest addition, Stephen Perfetto. The recently PTO signed forward flew down the left wing with great speed and was wrapping around the net. Before Perfetto did that he managed to perfectly dish off to Pontus Åberg on the front door, left wing side, to beat Lars Johansson near post. The goal for Åberg was his twentieth of the season to give the Swede back-to-back twenty goal seasons for the Admirals. The primary assist for Perfetto was his first career AHL point and came in his fourth career AHL game.
The Admirals first period scoring continued and also required speed down the left wing from one of their PTO contracted talents. Derek Army beat out an icing call and then pushed a puck out towards the net front area where he narrowly missed Mike Liambas. Johansson attempted to push the puck up and out of the zone but cleared out to Jack Dougherty at the right point who zipped d-to-d for Andrew O’Brien whose following slap shot stayed low with pace to record his second goal of the season.
“I’m always trying to shoot. That’s one of my strong points I feel,” commented O’Brien of his goal. “We had Army in front there, [Dougherty] made a nice d-to-d pass, and I just tried to put it on net. It went in, fortunately. It was pretty exciting.”
In typical Admirals fashion as of late their second period became a bit of an adventure. They allowed two goals in the opening 6:01 of the second period for the IceHogs to level the scoring up at 2-2. They would also get outshot 16-7 in the sandwich stanza.
Vinnie Hinostroza worked out of the left wing pocket to pick out a pass for Michael Latta rushing into the slot. The former Admiral was denied by Marek Mazanec on his initial shot but stuck with the puck to get his own rebound across the line for his third goal of the season.
After the Admirals were hemmed into their own zone, and took an icing call, the IceHogs caught them in the ensuing line change for an odd-man rush. Jake Dowell worked down the left wing and saucer passed opposite wing where Hinostroza was able to bury his first goal in the AHL this season to make it a 2-2 game.
In the third period the Admirals would hop back out in front with some magic by the French Fries – young and old. Mike Ribeiro made a great effort to maintain puck possession behind the net. He was then able to chip a pass out in the low right wing for Frédérick Gaudreau who froze Johansson with a pump fake to the forehand and shot into an open net before Viktor Svedberg could close him down to score his nineteenth goal of the season and make it 3-2 Admirals.
“Honestly, it was just instinct,” said Gaudreau of his game-winning goal. “Sometimes you kind of see stuff a little bit and then you just try to put the puck in the net. I think I got lucky a little bit.”
As the game was in its closing minutes the Admirals would get some insurance in the form of a power-play goal. Trevor Smith poked a puck hopping around the glove-side of Johansson off to Åberg in his sweet spot on the power-play unit for a rocket of a one-timed finish. The Swede had his second tally of the night, twenty-first of the season, and the Admirals had themselves a 4-2 lead.
With fifty-three seconds remaining Johansson would come off to get the extra attacker on for the IceHogs who would burn their timeout late after earning an in-zone face-off. Ribeiro would see a long range empty net big be denied by a post but it fell kindly for Gaudreau to pop in his second of the night and give him a twenty goal season for the first time in his professional playing career.
The Admirals will be back in action tomorrow night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena when they face-off against the Chicago Wolves at 6:00 PM CST. That will be the team’s annual “Teddy Bear Toss” night as well as Juuse Saros bobblehead night. Fans in attendance will receive one bobblehead per person not per ticket. The Admirals will then take to the road on Tuesday night at 7:00 PM CST where they will see tonight’s opponents the IceHogs at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Wednesday morning there was one roster move made. The Admirals added forward Stephen Perfetto from the Alaska Aces of the ECHL to a PTO Contract. Perfetto will wear the #13 for the Admirals. The final roster note would be that tonight’s game marked the official end for the terms of Miikka Salomäki’s long-term injury loan. The Finn who celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday yesterday will be joining the Nashville Predators shortly after this game. Tonight’s line combinations were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, Perfetto-Smith-Åberg, Salomäki-Kirkland-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches included: Vladislav Kamenev (undisclosed injury), Adam Pardy (broken left arm), and Rick Pinkston (healthy), and Matt White (bereavement leave).
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? What is it lately with the Milwaukee Admirals and having a second period lull? How great have Pontus Åberg and Frédérick Gaudreau been for the Admirals? How did you feel Miikka Salomäki looked during his three-game conditioning assignment?
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