The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-4 on the road against the Iowa Wild at the Wells Fargo Arena Sunday evening.
This game had a lot of everything. It was a scrap fest but the Admirals speed and skill held their heads above water. Goals from five different players to go along with more excellent work on the penalty kill allowed the Admirals to take both games on Opening Weekend in Iowa.
If you didn’t know any better you’d say Ryan Malone spent the past two-years training on his boxing. The veteran forward dropped his gloves with Cody Bass in the first period to make it two fights in two nights. There were some solid -heavy- punches landed by both but the better of the exchanges went to Malone.
After the Admirals clanked the post twice they finally found the back of the net in the first period. Tyler Kelleher blocked a point shot by Brennan Menell and was instantly off to the races on a breakaway. Kelleher measured up Nklas Svedberg and buried a wrist shot over the Swede’s glove to record the first goal of his professional career.
The Wild would get a quick response just thirty-seven seconds after Kelleher’s goal. Colton Beck checked Jack Dougherty behind the Admirals net and the puck trickled out low left wing where Pat Cannone was able to swiftly backhand a shot through Anders Lindbäck on the near post to level things at 1-1.
Vladislav Kamenev would get his first goal of the season in the opening frame and do it after getting a breakaway from the penalty box. Kamenev was called for a slash and, as the Admirals penalty kill finished the job, Alex Carrier hit the Russian out of the box which sent him loose down the right wing. Kamenev glided in to center but snapped high glove on Svedberg to get the Admirals back out in front 2-1.
The Admirals would extend their lead early in the second period. Tyler Moy backchecked an unsuspecting Justin Kloos. The puck squirted up to the point where Trevor Murphy stepped into it first-time with his howitzer slap shot that whistled in on net. It would be determined that the shot took a deflection from Anthony Richard before flying past Svedberg. That meant two goals in two games for Richard. And the Admirals lead went to 3-1.
It took the Wild 2:29 of the third period to close back into the Admirals. Menell was able to thread a low wrist from past Lindbäck from atop the right wing circle. That goal was the Wild defenseman’s first goal in his pro career and made it a 3-2 game.
After a slashing call against Landon Ferraro the Admirals power-play gave restored the two-goal cushion. A beautifully worked breakout play saw passes from Dougherty to Murphy in neutral ice. There was then a give-and go with Murphy and Frédérick Gaudreau that send the Admirals defenseman deep into right wing where he flipped a backhanded pass across ice for Harry Zolnierczyk to smack home his first goal with the Admirals since 12/30/16 – which was his final appearance with the Admirals before sticking with the Nashville Predators.
With 3:48 remaining the Wild went empty net and extra attacker. Gaudreau missed his first chance at the open net but didn’t waste his second crack to score his first goal of the season. Yet, the empty net theatrics weren’t done.
In a matter of seconds the Wild pulled back a goal to make it a 5-3 game. Luke Kunin put a wrister towards the net and it managed to deflect off of Dougherty who was grappling in front of Lindbäck with Kurtis Gabriel. That allowed for the net to be emptied again and Cannone would score his second goal of the game after a scrambly play pushed him into a shot from below the goal line that banked in.
Ultimately, the Admirals would outlast the Wild to sweep the opening weekend set. That wasn’t to end without more hostilities though as Jimmy Oligny and Ferraro were caught in a tussle after the final horn had sounded. The AHL’s Central Division is going to be a scrappy one – every team – every game.
The Admirals don’t have another game for a week. They are back on the road on Sunday when they play against the Rockford IceHogs at the BMO Harris Bank Center. In that time, expect plenty of coverage from Admirals Roundtable around the rink during what should be a week of practice.
Ramblings: Today’s lines were given a shake-up from what the Milwaukee Admirals unleashed on Opening Night: Kirkland- Gaudreau-Butler, Richard-Kamenev-Moy, Zolnierczyk-Pettersson-Kelleher, Labrie-Trenin-Bass, Oligny-Carrier, O’Brien-Dougherty, Murphy-Granberg. This tweak in the lines was because of an upper-body injury to Admirals captain Trevor Smith. Fred Allard, Joonas Lyytinen, and Stephen Perfetto were the other scratches but they were all healthy. With Smith out of tonight’s game Harry Zolnierczyk dressed as the team’s third alternate captain.
How are you feeling about this year’s Milwaukee Admirals team after Opening Weekend? Are you impressed with the speed and depth that this team has? Could it be possible for Anders Lindbäck to force the Nashville Predators to rotate himself with Juuse Saros at some point this season?
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