The Milwaukee Admirals won 6-3 against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Sunday night.
You can count this as one of the best results of the season. The Admirals and Griffins were both on the last of a three-in-three weekend but the Griffins were riding high on two wins whilst the Admirals suffered a tough loss in Iowa last night. The Admirals exploded in the second period and Anthony Richard capped it off with a Gordie Howe hat trick to see them finish off the best team in the Central Division in style tonight.
“The win is one thing, and the score is one thing, but the effort is what we’re proud of,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “It’s easy to just take the night off and just say, “oh well, it’s three-in-three and we’re tired,” and we didn’t. We just worked. It feels good for us, as a coaching staff, to see the group do that.”
It didn’t take long for the Griffins to assert their dominance tonight. They came out in attack and earned a first period lead in only 3:31 of play. Eric Tangradi glided across the top of the right wing circle and released a snap shot against the grain that beat Marek Mazanec high glove-side for his thirteenth goal of the season.
With 4:03 remaining in the first period the Griffins had a goal waved off. A shot had knuckled up on Mazanec and Mike Borkowski quickly snapped at it out of the air. The puck flew down into the net but the baseball style swat by Borkowski was quite clearly above the crossbar and the officials waved it off on the spot.
Moments after that disallowed goal the Admirals equalized. Pontus Åberg had flipped a puck high into the air and Matt White gloved it down just as he was crossing into the attacking zone. White threw the puck down and had a breakaway that ended with a backhander through the five-hole of Eddie Pasquale for his thirteenth goal of the season.
Similar to the way they started the first period the Griffins had a quick tally to open the second period. Martin Frk whistled a shot from the right wing wall through the arm of Mazanec as he was holding the near post. There was just enough of an opening stick-side on Mazanec where the puck hit off of him and glance off the post before Frk had his twenty-third goal of the season and see the Griffins back out in front.
Coming into tonight’s game Pasquale had consecutive shutouts against the Admirals. Perhaps with the Admirals second goal he was making up for lost time or simply felt bad for doing that. The veteran netminder was playing the puck behind his net, hesitate to play it forward, and then passed a backhander directly off the end boards to Vladislav Kamenev. The Russian had a simple rush to the empty net to record his fifteenth goal of the season and make it a 2-2 game.
The Admirals would follow that up to take their first lead of the night. Andrew O’Brien unleashed a low shot as he entered the attacking zone. Pasquale failed to secure the shot with his glove and the puck bounced free for the speedy Anthony Richard to bang home on the rebound to earn his fourth goal of the season and give the Admirals a 3-2 lead.
“My first thought was that I think [O’Brien] was going to give it to Gaudreau and [Ribeiro] on the other side to create maybe a three-on-two or four-on-two,” said Richard. “So I was like, I’m going to create space with my speed and just rush to the net. The puck came right at me on my tape.”
It was around this point when it felt like the dam had officially broken. The Admirals poured on pressure and then saw the French Fry line come up with the goods again. Mike Ribeiro dropped a pass back for Richard who opened up down the left wing for the trailing Frédérick Gaudreau to snap a shot from the slot past the stick-side of Pasquale for his twenty-first goal of the season and make it a 4-2 game for the Admirals.
Richard’s second period was already something special but, following a high stick by Yevgeni Svechnikov, he would get into his first career pro fight in the scrum that followed. He paired up with Matt Lorito and proceeded to knock the tar out of him. It was a decisive 10-8 win in the fight cards as he out-struck Lorito and earned the knockdown. Richard earned a Gordie Howe hat trick in the space of 10:02 in the second period.
“We were all biting our lips,” laughed Evason. “I had my card in front of me because the guys were so excited. We asked him if he had done it before and he said, “yeah, I know what I’m doing.” So, he knows what he is doing. Clearly he is not afraid to do it.”
Almost forgotten about in the melee was the fact that Svechnikov gave the game its first power-play chance of the night after 38:55 of play. The Admirals momentum kept rolling and a no-look spinning backhand feed by Trevor Smith rolled back into Pontus Åberg’s sweet spot in the low left wing circle for a one-timer that roared by Pasquale for his team leading twenty-fifth goal of the season with just 2.7 seconds remaining in the second period.
In the late goings of the third period Tangradi would net his second of the night to cut the Admirals lead to 5-3. He had a puck right on the doorstep of Mazanec but peeled back out before turning around in the low left wing and roofing a shot over the glove hand to record his fourteenth goal of the season.
The Griffins went empty net and extra attacker in the final minute. Mazanec attempted to score a goalie goal but missed out. That was salvaged quickly as Kamenev passed off to Adam Payerl to score the empty netter, earn his fifteenth goal of the season, and seal the Admirals 6-3 victory against the Griffins.
Next on tap for the Admirals will be some rest time before traveling up North to play on the road against the Manitoba Moose at the MTS Centre on Thursday and Friday night. Both of the games will be played at 7:00 PM CDT. The Admirals will then travel back to see the Griffins once again at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for a Sunday tilt.
“I think it’s important not to dwell on this win,” said Jack Dougherty. “We see what happens when we play a certain way and stay out of the box and play how the coaches want us. I think it is important for us to get a lot of rest after this. We’re looking forward to going to Manitoba and getting ready for playoffs here.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals play last night there were no roster moves made in the organization. Tonight’s line combinations were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, White-Smith-Åberg, Perfetto-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Tyler Kelleher (healthy), Justin Kirkland (undisclosed injury), Adam Pardy (broken left arm), and Rick Pinkston (healthy). Tonight for the Grand Rapids Griffins forward Dominik Shine made his professional playing debut.
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game and this weekend’s three-in-three? Where did that second period explosion for the Milwaukee Admirals come from?
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