The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 against the Iowa Wild at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Friday night.
It’s been awhile since the Admirals played a very well structured sixty-minutes of hockey but they accomplished that tonight against the Wild. They received goals from Justin Florek and Pontus Åberg to get them out in front. It was only a Sam Anas penalty shot that got the better of Marek Mazanec in the Admirals victory tonight.
“It was a real quick game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “No penalties. So everything was going really fast and both teams were working their butts off. That team works hard. Our team works hard. We have good games against them. Can’t see it being any different.”
Early into the first period the Admirals opened up the scoring with speed and numbers behind them. Mike Liambas had the puck down the right wing on a rush and was attempting a centering pass for Justin Florek that lofted a touch wide. Thankfully, Derek Army was also flying down the left wing and then opened up to deliver a picture perfect pass for Florek down the slot which he would bury past Alex Stalock for his ninth goal of the season.
“The goal was a big lift for us,” commented Evason. “We knew they had been playing very well. We knew they were very confident. One of our keys was to start well and hopefully take that confidence out of their game. We did not -but- we got the goal and the goal kind of did that for us.”
In the second period the Admirals extended their lead thanks to a power-play goal from the game’s first special teams exchange. Maxime Fortunus had been called for hooking and the Admirals top power-play group took care of business in twenty-four seconds. Pontus Åberg delivered a shot-pass from the left wing that looked to tag Frédérick Gaudreau en route to the net down the slot. Instead, the puck dinked into the net off of Wild defenseman Mike Reilly’s skate. It was Åberg’s twenty-fourth goal of the season.
“I’m trying to find Gaudreau in the middle there,” smiled Åberg. “It went under his stick and they scored a nice goal for me.”
Tonight marked the professional playing debut for Tyler Kelleher. Things were going swimmingly until a moment in the third period that he would like to have back. Sam Anas had a breakaway and his shot was stopped by Marek Mazanec. Yet, Kelleher took a slash across the right side of Anas to draw a penalty shot. Anas would swoop left wing and pull a backhand to forehand move that opened up the Czech goaltender to the stick-side for his eleventh goal of the season to deny Mazanec’s shutout bid.
Following a double-minor for slashing against Ryan Carter with 1:52 remaining in regulation it felt like the Admirals had a sure road to victory. The Wild still pushed and were able to get Stalock to the bench for the extra attacker just seven-seconds later. That wouldn’t get them much more that puck possession around the boards and the Admirals would get the clear and win when all was said and done.
Mazanec was in the right place at the right time whenever he was required tonight. He probably could feel hard done with the penalty shot that denied a shutout for him but his twenty-five saves on the evening gave a great foundation for the Admirals to build off of en route to their second consecutive win.
“He’s an NHL goalie,” said Åberg of Mazanec. “Good for us to have him down here. When we’re having our lowest he’s the one who is carrying the team back there. It’s nice to have him.”
Tomorrow night these two will lock horns once again but on the road at the Wells Fargo Arena in Iowa. That game will start at 6:00 PM CDT. Following the conclusion of that contest the Admirals will bus right back to Milwaukee for a Sunday clash against the Grand Rapids Griffins which starts at 5:00 PM CDT.
Ramblings: Prior to tonight’s game the Milwaukee Admirals announced the signing of University of New Hampshire standout Tyler Kelleher. The current Hobey Baker Award finalist is signed to an AHL contract with the Admirals through the rest of the 2016-17 season as well as the 2017-18 season and made his professional playing debut tonight. There was some shuffling with tonight’s line combinations: White-Smith-Åberg, Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, Kelleher-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Justin Kirkland (undisclosed injury), Adam Pardy (broken left arm), Stephen Perfetto (healthy), and Rick Pinkston (healthy).
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? Was the penalty shot a correct call? How did you feel Tyler Kelleher looked in his pro debut and are you excited by what his time with the Milwaukee Admirals could be? How will these two clash tomorrow night in Iowa?
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