The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-3 in overtime against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the Van Andel Arena on Friday night. The Admirals now trail the Griffins 1-0 in the best of five opening round series of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.
It likely wasn’t a game that either side could be happy about as far as the discipline was concerned but the effort was certainly there from both teams. Frédérick Gaudreau was terrific on the night for the Admirals but the team lost a 3-2 lead in the third period and would fall in overtime. The Admirals have now lost nine straight playoff games dating back to the 2013 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.
This series started with some special teams work and it was the Admirals power-play that opened up the scoring. A face-off win from Trevor Smith quickly cycled back to Alex Carrier and then left wing for a hammer shot by Frédérick Gaudreau that flew past Jared Coreau.
The Griffins would answer right back with two goals in a matter of thirteen seconds. A delay of game penalty on Justin Kirkland allowed for a power-play goal by Matthew Ford. The Admirals were unable to clear the zone and Matthew Ford was able to scrap it out around the net to get a puck through on Marek Mazanec’s right pad. This was swiftly followed by a snap shot by Evgeny Svechnikov down the low left wing wall that had enough juice on it to keep motoring through Mazanec and trickle across the goal line and in.
Gaudreau would make sure the first period didn’t end with the Admirals trailing 2-1. On a rush play, Gaudreau had a break down the left wing with numbers joining him and he would tap the brakes on to find Petter Granberg atop the circles. The big Swede cranked a shot first time that appeared to surprise Coreau in net and made it 2-2 just prior to the final minute of the opening frame.
Discipline seemed to go out the window a touch for the second period. There were eight different minor penalties called and much of the frame was spent with the special team groups on the ice.
The lone marker coming in the second period would come shorthanded when a botch job by Joe Hicketts with the puck allowed for a clean break by Gaudreau. The mistake from Hicketts came near his attacking blueline in neutral ice but Gaudreau would be free in space once he entered the attacking zone and snapped a wrister low glove against Coreau to score his second tally and third point of the game.
Past the halfway point in the third period the Griffins would knot things up at 3-3. A puck was skipping by Mazanec and he was about to glove it down but Adam Pardy cut him off to play it away from the crease. The puck hopped up on his stick and fell back into the path of Matt Lorito who had plenty of open net to score the equalizer with 9:15 remaining in regulation.
That tally would force overtime in this series opener. Despite some good looks from both sides in the overtime frame the Griffins would get a sneaky shot by Tomas Nosek from just below the goal line in the low left wing to beat Mazanec and go in for the game-winning goal. The shot by Nosek was eerily similar to the one from Svechnikov earlier in the contest and it meant the Griffins claimed Game 1 while the Admirals search for a playoff victory stretched to nine consecutive defeats.
Game 2 takes place in Grand Rapids on Sunday at 3:00 PM CDT. The series then shifts back to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for Game 3 at 7:00 PM CDT on Wednesday night.
Ramblings: Since the end of the 2016-17 AHL Regular Season the Milwaukee Admirals did not make any roster moves. Tonight’s line combinations were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, White-Smith-Moy, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Trenin-Liambas, Pardy-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, Girard-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were: Army (healthy), Bass (lower-body injury), Kelleher (undisclosed injury), O’Brien (undisclosed injury), Perfetto (healthy), Pinkston (healthy), and Visentin (healthy).
What were your thoughts on Game 1? After this game do you feel the Milwaukee Admirals can learn and adapt to take a road game against the Grand Rapids Griffins to return to Milwaukee with a chance to finish the series? Are you concerned by Marek Mazanec allowing two goals from such bad angles?
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