The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-4 in a shootout against the San Antonio Rampage at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Wednesday night.
For the first time this season the Admirals have lost a shootout. They entered the night having won all six shootouts that they had participated in and had the likes of Justin Kirkland scoring on all five attempts. Yet, Kirkland and so many more would miss. Brendan Ranford would be the lone man to score in the final run of Round 5 in tonight’s shootout to get the Rampage the win. The Admirals do earn a point on the evening to extend their point streak to five-games.
“[San Antonio] is a desperate team,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “They’ve come in, struggled here on their road trip, and we obviously knew that. What we liked is we were as desperate as they were to start the hockey game. That’s a good sign for us that the group did the right things motivating to get out there and play with that desperation. [San Antonio] plays a hard game. And we did too.”
Things would start off chippy between Derek Army and Andrew Agozzino. The two would tussle in the Admirals attacking zone but Army would get called for an additional minor penalty that put the Admirals penalty kill to work.
“It was just one of those parts of the game,” smiled Derek Army of his clash with Andrew Agozzino. “You’re playing the game hard. You’re trying to make things happen. I was trying to get out of the corner and get one to the net. Got tangled up. And ended up in the box.”
With that opening penalty kill for the Admirals they would get an attacking zone face-off, win it, and see Petter Granberg flutter a wrister from the right point that knuckled down on Spencer Martin’s glove and into the net. The shorthander for the Admirals was their Western Conference leading ninth of the season. The tally by Granberg was only his third goal on the 2017-18 campaign.
“We really liked our first period,” said Evason after the game. “We were playing as fast as we’ve played all year with the puck movement and our legs. Then we took our foot off the gas in the second period. They gained momentum and that’s likely the difference in the game.”
The Rampage was equalize early in the second period with a power-play that came under bizarre circumstances. Anders Lindbäck was making a double pad stack effort on a shot that would ultimately get blocked down by a stick check. On his sliding save attempt the net was kicked loose but the officials called the Swede out for delay of game as if to say that was intentionally done to deny a scoring chance.
The Rampage would follow up on that power-play opportunity with a howitzer of a slap shot by Nicolas Meloche from atop the left wing circle for his fourth goal of the season making it a 1-1 game.
The Rampage would follow up from that power-play goal by scoring their second goal of the second period just their second shot. Félix Girard played a puck up ice and Brendan Ranford and Reid Petryk worked a one-two from between the hashmarks. One final wing-to-wing feed backpost on the left wing side gave Petryk an open stick-side for his fourth goal of the season and making it a 2-1 Rampage lead.
The Rampage would quite literally continue in the second period. A shot on target by Julien Nantel was kicked aside by the pads of Lindbäck but right into the path of Shawn Ouellette-St. Amant for a rebound goal and his third of the season to extend the lead to 3-1 Rampage.
“We’ve tried to recognize and acknowledge that the second period is a time when you cannot turn the puck over – especially in the second period,” said Evason. “You have to get pucks out. It has to be really heavy plays. Getting it into the neutral zone. Simplifying our game. And then allowing us to get to that third period. It’s a bit of game management that we have to recognize to get to that third to get in the position that we want.”
Frédérick Gaudreau would mercifully end the run by the Rampage in the second period with a breakaway goal. Gaudreau entered the zone with speed, squared up Martin, went forehand-backhand, and roofed the backhanded shot for his tenth goal of the season.
The similarities between Saturday’s meeting between these two and tonight’s game were rather striking. The Rampage scored three times in the second period in both games and both occasions saw the Rampage take a 3-2 lead into the start of the third period. And the similarities continued into who scored first in the third period.
The Admirals had a power-play that carried over to begin the final frame of regulation. With that they managed to get a one-timer setup for Gaudreau to blast on home from the left wing circle that beat Martin low stick-side for his second goal of the night and eleventh on the season.
“We challenged [Gaudreau] awhile ago. He was kind of in and out a little bit and we challenged him to be one of our better players,” said Evason. “You don’t have to say too much to [Gaudreau] as far as challenging him because he’s going to go out and play and challenge himself to be better. He wasn’t happy with his game. Certainly he’s happy with his game, we’re happy with his game, now.”
The Admirals had tied it up at 3-3. Where the similarities stopped between Saturday night and tonight would be the seventh goal scored came off an Admirals stick. Fred Allard glided down the right wing and on net but dished off perfectly for Anthony Richard in the slot. All Richard needed to do was tap it in and giving it a little tappy made it a 4-3 Admirals lead from Richard’s twelfth goal of the season.
Similar again to Saturday night’s clash this game would get tied at 4-4. A beautiful series of passes for the Rampage saw Petryk net his second of the night. Jean-Christophe Beaudin had a terrific pass from the right wing wall to pick out Petryk and he took the shot first-time and beat Lindbäck to the stick-side for his fifth goal of the season.
With 23.7 seconds remaining in regulation Andrei Mironov was called for holding and gave the Admirals a power-play late. The Rampage quickly used their timeout to get their penalty kill on the same page. They did enough to make sure they earned a point as the game would push into overtime.
Tonight’s game needed a shootout. And it wouldn’t even see a goal scored until the final inning of Round 5 of the shootout. Ranford was able to shift back to a backhand late and score on a sprawling Lindbäck. The shootout loss for the Admirals was their first this season and came in their seventh run of shootout contests.
The Admirals will be finishing off this four-game homestand on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 PM CST against the Texas Stars. They will then head North where they will see the Manitoba Moose on Monday and Wednesday which starts a four-game road trip.
“There’s a lot of good things that we’ve liked in our game that we’ve done over this last little stretch here,” said Justin Kirkland following the game. “We’ve had some success. We battled back and we got a point. That’s big. Right now we’re on the outside looking in. We need every point that we can get.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played on Sunday the lone roster move made saw defenseman Rick Pinkston returned on loan to the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL. Tonight’s line combinations and defensive pairings were: Zolnierczyk-Zengerle-McNeill, Richard-Pettersson-Gaudreau, Kirkland-Smith-Mingoia, Labrie-Army-Moy, Oligny-Dougherty, Lyytinen-Granberg, Allard-Carrier. Tonight’s scratches were: Cody Bass (upper-body), Trevor Murphy (upper-body), and Yakov Trenin (undisclosed).
What is your reaction to tonight’s game? How about these last two games played between the Milwaukee Admirals and San Antonio Rampage? What could the Admirals have done differently tonight to sway this result back to a win within regulation?
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