The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-1 against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Saturday night.
In the 2016-17 regular season finale things never truly went the Admirals way. Whether it be odd calls or simply a stellar performance in net for Eddie Pasquale – the Admirals couldn’t get a break tonight. It is the fourth straight loss on the regular season finale for the Admirals but the team is still very optimistic heading into the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.
“You want to finish playing the right way and I though, for the most part, we did,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “I thought we played the right way. [Grand Rapids] caught a couple of breaks, obviously, a couple of power-play goals to put them up a couple of goals. But, five-on-five we thought we did a lot of really good things in the hockey game. We didn’t get the result but we had opportunities to possibly get the result. We worked hard. We played hard the last two nights. We’ll be positive going forward here.”
This game started very sour as Vladislav Kamenev was undercut in neutral ice and sent flying. There was no call on the ice and he took a retaliation penalty which was followed by a bench minor against the Admirals. It gave the Griffins a full two minutes of five-on-three power play to work with and they would break the Admirals penalty kill run of twenty-eight straight kills.
The passing play went Joe Hicketts at the point to Evgeny Svechnikov on the right with to the back post on left wing for Mitch Callahan who beat Jonas Gunnarsson back to the near post to score his sixteenth goal of the season and make it a 1-0 Griffins advantage.
Tyler Moy took matters into his own hands following some more absurd calls against the Admirals in the first period. The Harvard kid picked the pocket of former-Admiral Conor Allen and then turned around, skated in, and roofed a wrister to the glove-side of Eddie Pasquale. It was the first goal of Moy’s professional hockey career and comes in his third career game.
“Fortunate enough to get the puck with some space,” said Moy of his first pro goal. “It felt really good with it being here at home and everything. Great experience and a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
It seemed fitting that the first period end in controversy after all the bizarre moments that were happening. A shot to the net by Filip Hronek was trapped in the left arm of Gunnarsson but a stiff whack by Tyler Bertuzzi knocked the puck through to the net for a goal as the horn sounded to end the opening period. It took video review to confirm that Bertuzzi scored his twelfth goal of the season with 0.6 seconds remaining in the first period.
The Griffins would extend their lead in the second period following a slashing minor against Rick Pinkston. Bertuzzi was very wide down the left wing and managed to work a pass all the way across to his opposite wing where Eric Tangradi was lurking. Gunnarsson over-committed to Bertuzzi and couldn’t recover in time to stop Tangradi’s shot which went in with ease for a power-play goal and his seventeenth of the season.
In the third period, after seeing their seventh power-play come and go, the Admirals saw the Griffins get a breakaway out of the penalty box. Svechnikov had served a bench minor for too many men on the ice and was off to the races once the penalty expired. He finished forehand to backhand with a five-hole shot that beat Gunnarsson for his twentieth goal of the season.
The damage would keep on keeping on in the third period. A howitzer of a slap shot from Colin Campbell flew through net front traffic and rang off the near-side post to beat Gunnarsson stick side for his ninth goal of the season and make it a 5-1 Griffins lead.
The game would finish right there. It was a very solid effort in net for Pasquale who only allowed the tally from Moy against the run of twenty-six shots on goal by the Admirals. The biggest hurt on the evening would be the Admirals getting blanked on seven power-play chances but those chances still generated lots of scoring opportunities. Pasquale was sharp in net tonight.
“He played very well,” said Evason of Pasquale. “They played very well in front of him. But we had good looks. Enough looks to have success, more than one goal. But we’ll find a way. Not a lot of scoring in playoffs.”
The Admirals finish the 2016-17 season with a record of 43-25-4-3 (93 points, 0.612 points percentage). They finish in third place of the Central Division and are set to start the opening round of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs on the road this coming Friday and Sunday. Their first two home games will be played on Wednesday April 26th at 7:00 PM CDT and -if necessary- Friday April 28th at 7:00 PM CDT.
Following the completion of tonight’s game the Chicago Wolves defeated the Charlotte Checkers 4-3 in overtime at the Allstate Arena to cement the playoff picture. The four teams that played tonight will lock horns in round one as the Wolves battle the Checkers and the Admirals match-up against the Griffins.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there were no roster moves made in the organization but the team did decide to rest several players in the regular season finale tonight. The line combinations were: Richard-Perfetto-Gaudreau, White-Army-Moy, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Liambas-Trenin-Florek, Pardy-Pinkston, Murphy-Granberg, Girard-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches included: Bass (lower-body injury), Carrier (healthy), Kelleher (undisclosed injury), Mazanec (healthy), O’Brien (undisclosed injury), Ribeiro (healthy), Smith (healthy). With the Admirals captain Trevor Smith sitting out for rest the team dressed three alternate captains: Mike Liambas, Adam Payerl, and Adam Pardy.
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? Is this a sign of things to come in the playoffs or is this result unfair to judge because the Admirals rested so many of their players? Do you think it was right of the Admirals to back-off and rest players for the regular season finale?
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