The test of this weekend’s three-in-three for the Milwaukee Admirals is a big one. The Iowa Wild have been playing great hockey and the Grand Rapids Griffins are always sharp. To see the Admirals find a way over the top of this mountain required a very strong start to the top and they went out and delivered on that with a 2-1 win last night.
As a scoreline, that win doesn’t feel flashy or overwhelming but that in a lot of ways is a reflection of what the Admirals did correctly last night. They were incredibly structured and detailed. It took a penalty shot from Sam Anas to finally get a puck past Marek Mazanec. The Admirals push for a “defense-first” mentality showed up last night and with it came minimal quality scoring chances for the Wild – a team that was on a four-game point streak and three-game winning streak.
In a lot of ways last night’s game previewed playoff style hockey. That first period was a little wide open at times, made all the nuttier by the lack of whistles or stoppages in play, but the work rate and specifically defensive work rate for both sides was very good. It took a heads up play by the Admirals on a three-on-two rush to get a goal for Justin Florek and then a bounce off of Mike Reilly‘s skate for them to get the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal on the power-play. Even for the Admirals it was tight. The different was, after the Florek goal, they really settled down and started to dictate the game.
I’m expecting plenty more of the same tonight. If anything, with the game taking place in Iowa with the loss hanging over their head -plus- Sunday off unlike the Admirals, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wild up their physical efforts and be even more aggressive. The desperation that the Wild started to play with towards the end of the third period, and the way they started the game, did get the Admirals caught up a little bit and caused turnovers to keep the Wild cycling in attack. The Admirals are going to probably need to weather a first period storm or find a way to silence the Wells Fargo Arena crowd.
After last night’s game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I then chatted with Pontus Åberg, Tyler Kelleher, and Anthony Richard. These were last night’s comments following the win over Iowa.
Comments on the comments? What are the chances that Jimmy Oligny and Ryan Carter drop the gloves tonight following the fracas between the two at the end of last night’s contest? With the Grand Rapids Griffins looming in the shadows Sunday: how important is it for the Admirals to get the victory tonight?
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