The Milwaukee Admirals won 4-3 in overtime against the Rockford IceHogs on the road at the BMO Harris Bank Center on Tuesday night.
This was a car crash style game that had hectic ebbs-and-flows. It wasn’t until the third period when the Admirals held a lead and even then overtime was needed. He might have made three key mistakes to get there but Pontus Åberg’s second goal of the night was the winner in overtime.
“He messed up three times,” smirked Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Our group knows they can go for the [empty] net if we have a two goal lead. They get it out if we have a one goal lead. He messed up there. He messed up on their tying goal by going through his check. He should have went through [Hinostroza] first and then to the defense. And then he messes up by not changing at the end. Ultimately all his messes led to him scoring the game-winner.”
The game’s first power-play chance put the IceHogs ahead in the first period. Trevor Murphy was called for a kneeing minor against Vinnie Hinostroza. The IceHogs won the initial power-play face-off and quickly cycled d-to-d with a shot from the right point by Ville Pokka deflecting off the blade of Brandon Mashinter in the slot past the blocker side of Marek Mazanec. It just so happened to take an extra deflection off of Kyle Baun who would later be credited with the power-play goal for his twelfth goal of the season.
Matt White was welcomed back into the lineup tonight and his presence was felt quickly. The California native had pace down the left wing and seeing a two-on-two with Pontus Åberg on his opposite wing practically become a two-on-naught with their pace down the wings cutting to the net. White dished off to the back post run of Åberg and the Swede cradled it home past Jeff Glass for his team leading twenty-second goal of the season.
Prior to the midway point of this contest Chris DeSousa was called for a boarding major against Admirals captain Trevor Smith along the IceHogs bench. All the Admirals could do is generate four shots on goal and see a left wing shot by Åberg ring off the near post and go flying into the right wing boards.
It wasn’t all that long after the successful major penalty kill that the IceHogs put themselves back in front. They had generated great pace starting from their own zone and worked a rush play that cut the Admirals defense apart tic-tac-toe from Mashinter to Baun and then down the right wing for Hinostroza to barreled in on net to snag his second AHL goal of the season and second in as many games against the Admirals.
So, the Admirals power-play was getting stifled but that didn’t mean that their special teams couldn’t generate offense. Smith would get the Admirals off on a shorthanded rush with Justin Florek in tow. The initial shots would be denied by Glass but a scramble would form and Florek flicked a shot that nearly rolled in clean. Glass would swipe a glove to it before it rolled over the line but, in the process, appeared to lose the puck off his glove into his pad and back into the net. They all count the same and that shorthanded marker for Florek was his eighth goal scored on the season.
“We’ve kind of been talking about it lately. I don’t think we have too many shorthanded goals,” said Florek of the Admirals penalty kill. “We’ve kind of been talking about when we get the chance to capitalize off a few of their’s. Lately we’ve been getting a few more and hopefully we start to see a few more go in.”
DeSousa may have still had a small debt to pay as far as the Admirals were concerned. That or he simply owed last year’s teammate Mike Liambas one as the two let the gloves drop before the end of the second period. It was a decisive victory for Liambas who dropped DeSousa with stiff overhand rights.
Just past the midway point in the third period the Admirals would claim their first lead of the night. Jake Dowell took liberities with Trevor Murphy’s jousting in a post-whistle back-and-fourth and proceeded to throw a punch. That gave Dowell an added minor for roughing and the Admirals a power-play that ended in White getting a slick toe-drag as he cut from the low left wing circle into the slot. His shot flew past Glass stick-side to the near post for his twelfth goal of the season and make it a 3-2 Admirals lead.
With 1:53 remaining in regulation Glass took to the bench to get the extra attacker on for the IceHogs. Åberg went for an empty net bid only to draw an icing call and fourteen seconds of empty net and extra attacker later the IceHogs were level. They won a face-off and quickly had Hinostroza scoring his second goal of the night as he whistled a wrister through traffic and over the glove of Mazanec for his third goal of the season.
That tally meant this game would need overtime. In the overtime period the IceHogs would burn their timeout with 1:41 left in the period as the Admirals earned an attacking zone face-off. The Admirals would pin the puck deep from the point until a clearance saw the IceHogs race for a line change. That allowed Mazanec to get a quick pass up ice to Åberg who had a give-and-go between himself and Ribeiro. The veteran forward left a drop pass in-line for the Swede to swat a shot from the slot. Glass made the initial shot but Åberg followed in for his own rebound and popped the puck over the left pad to score the game-winning goal in overtime. His second goal of the night pushed him up to twenty-three goals on the season.
“It kind of felt like I needed that overtime goal,” said Åberg of his mistakes late in the game. “I felt like I had to give [Mazanec] an out. He put it a little too far for me so I thought their guy was going to get it. Got a stick. Got it between the guy’s legs. That guy went to change and I was supposed to change too but we had a clear three-on-two. So, I wanted to get that opportunity.”
Mazenec not only played a hand in the game-winning goal but his efforts in net to weather waves upon waves of IceHogs shots tonight was important for the Admirals in staying alive tonight. He ended the night with thirty-eight saves to get the Admirals back to winning ways.
Next on tap for the Admirals is a three-in-three weekend. They start on home ice Friday night against the Iowa Wild at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. On Saturday both the Admirals and Wild will travel to Des Moines for a 7:00 PM CDT face-off at the Wells Fargo Arena. The final stop sees the Admirals traveling all the way back home that night for a 5:00 PM CDT start against the high powered Grand Rapids Griffins on home ice.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Saturday night there have been no roster moves made by the organization. Tonight’s line combinations were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, White-Smith-Aberg, Perfetto-Kirkland-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Vladislav Kamenev (undisclosed injury), Adam Pardy (broken left arm), and Rick Pinkston (healthy).
What is your reaction to tonight’s game? It feels as if the Milwaukee Admirals, even when they get the results, have been sputtering: what is the primary reason?
Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.