The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-2 against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Wednesday night.
It appears as though the ups and downs of the 2017 side of the calendar have translated into 2018. The Admirals trailed early and couldn’t get back on even terms and that sees their five-game point streak come to an end tonight at the hands of a Griffins team that has now won four-straight.
“What we did tonight is we gave them four goals,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “Each goal we messed up in some manner in order to give them that great opportunity. And it can’t happen.”
This season Anders Lindbäck’s ability to play the puck has been outstanding. Tonight’s opening goal might have showed the Admirals goaltender attempting to do a little much. Lindbäck had two passing options and flipped a backhanded pass right into the path of an on charging Evgeny Svechnikov who was then able to pass back-post for an Axel Holmström tap in.
When these two teams played on New Year’s Eve the Griffins scored twice in the space of 1:07. In the first period, following Holmström’s third goal of the season, the Griffins would score a second tally just 1:08 after their opener. Vili Saarijärvi crept up from the blueline and hammered a slap shot from the right wing circle that pelted up into the air after Lindbäck made the initial save. Matt Puempel took a swipe at the airborne puck and batted it in for his thirteenth goal of the season to quickly make it a 2-0 Griffins lead.
“It’s a high stick,” stated Evason. “It’s not the ref’s fault. It is not his fault. The game is way too fast. We should have video replay. We should have had an opportunity to make a challenge on that play but our league doesn’t have it. It’s ridiculous. We’re the second best league in the world. These players their next step tomorrow they’re getting called up to the National Hockey League and we don’t have the opportunity to challenge that? It’s not the ref’s fault.”
In the second period the Admirals would cash in from the game’s first power-play chance. Bobby Butler, fresh off of being announced to Team USA for the 2018 Winter Olympics, rifled a shot from the left wing circle that went through the blocker-side of Jared Coreau and in for his team leading fourteenth goal of the season.
Before the midway point in the third period the Griffins and Admirals traded goals thirty-nine seconds apart. Corey Elkins was able to work a backhanded wrap-around home for his fifth goal of the season. Before the Griffins could relax after getting their two-goal lead back Harry Zolnierczyk knuckled a slap shot from the left wing circle that dropped just underneath the glove of Coreau to make it a 3-2 game on Zolnierczyk’s twelfth goal of the season.
The Admirals would then get scrambly in attack which triggered an odd-man rush that the Griffins would capitalize off of. Colin Campbell had the puck on zone entry down the right wing and tagged Matt Lorito opposite wing for what would be a tap in. Lorito had his tenth goal of the season. And the Griffins reclaimed a two-goal advantage.
With 1:28 remaining in regulation Lindbäck made his way to the bench to bring on the extra attacker. It wasn’t long after then that the Admirals earned an attacking zone face-off and used their timeout. Ultimately the Admirals couldn’t find a breakthrough and the Griffins would seal out a 4-2 win.
“For the most part here as of late we’ve played really well,” said Evason. “I can’t remember the last time we shot ourselves like we did here tonight.”
The Admirals return to action on Friday at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena when they host the Iowa Wild. They will then travel to the BMO Harris Bank Center on Sunday to see the Rockford IceHogs.
“We can bounce back,” said Alex Carrier following the game. “It’s a good opportunity for us to bounce back. That’s what we need to do.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on New Year’s Eve there have been no roster moves made within the organization. Bobby Butler was announced as part of Team USA’s Men’s Olympic Hockey Team for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Tonight’s line combinations and defensive pairings were: Butler-Smith-Moy, Zolnierczyk-Zengerle-Army, Richard-Pettersson-Gaudreau, Labrie-Kirkland-Bass, Murphy-Granberg, Oligny-Dougherty, Allard-Carrier. Tonight’s scratches included: Tyler Kelleher (lower-body), Trevor Mingoia (healthy), Andrew O’Brien (healthy), and Yakov Trenin (surgery).
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? What is it about the Grand Rapids Griffins that the Milwaukee Admirals can’t solve? Is this “up and down” nature just the way of the 2017-18 Admirals season?
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