The Milwaukee Admirals have won four straight games and along the way swept a three-in-three marathon weekend. It wasn’t all clean. It wasn’t perfect, by any means. But what the Admirals are starting to show more and more is a fighting spirit and resiliency that is keeping them in games that they are finding ways to close out. Last night’s 5-4 win over the Stockton Heat was no different. They claimed their first lead of the game with 7:05 remaining in regulation and found a way to stamp out the win.
There was a scrambled nature to the game between the Admirals and Heat. I actually feel both sides play such a similar game that it lead to spurts of defensive struggles and then loads of pressure. The key to all of that starts with the Heat getting on the board first and then the Admirals becoming a hunter in the chase position from the first period to the finish. The Admirals were the ones needing to play with desperation throughout the game. That ultimately served them well in the long run and made for yet another third period comeback on back-to-back occasions at home. Nice difference? This one ended in regulation.
There were some moments last night that you wish could have gone a tad better. In the second period alone there were two key moments that stand out that could have otherwise been a gut punch.
When Jake Paterson plays a puck behind his net only to get it taken away by Émile Poirier and go back in front for a wide open Mike McMurtry for what was practically an empty net goal – that hurt. The Admirals had just tied the game at 1-1 only 47 seconds prior to that. In the recent string of the Admirals defeats it was key moments such as that which often times felt like a death sentence or a beginning of the end. “Here we go again,” so says we all etc. Yet, that didn’t happen. And the Admirals played past that moment to score again 16 seconds later on a turnover of their own forced and then scored by Tyler Moy. Out of sight. Out of mind. And considering how little in-game action Paterson has seen? I feel that some of his scrambly moments were just a result of that. There is a major difference between practice speed and an in-game tempo and environment. Paterson had his high stress level moments but by game’s end started to look more comfortable in net.
This of course would be followed later on in the second period by an Admirals power-play run that saw extended five-on-three time. The Admirals were on the power-play for what felt like an eternity or at the very least half the distance of last night’s God Bless America. Yet, for all that time, the Admirals only bagged a single power-play goal from five successive infractions by the Heat inside of a five minute window. Again, it is an area that the Admirals could have otherwise been down on themselves or saw it later on as a huge opportunity lost. But they kept on. That five-on-three power-play goal for Frédérick Gaudreau was the first goal of three unanswered. The Admirals would rally back in the third period with goals by Pierre-Cédric Labrie and Trevor Smith (shorthanded). The Heat were getting themselves rattled. The Admirals stayed composed, focused, and pushed forward.
On the weekend the Admirals really had to scrap it out for all games of the three-in-three. But who on Earth would have expected the first three games played without Bobby Butler to result in 15 goals scored? What I’ve seen from the Admirals -especially on the weekend- is the depth starting to really shine, the defense beginning to really gel into roles, and a resiliency come forward out of the maturation process of a six-game losing skid. These are team victories. The Admirals are getting things done across all areas of the ice from multiple players based on hard work. It’s a joy to see this upswing finally happen and the results are finally falling their way one-game at a time.
After last night’s game I did get the chance to hear from Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I then caught up with Paterson, Gaudreau, and Moy. These were last night’s post-game comments at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena following the team’s fourth straight win.
What were your thoughts on last night’s game? Are the Milwaukee Admirals officially here? How impressed have you been by the Admirals post-Butler leaving to the Winter Olympics?
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