The Shootout Maestros; Admirals Beat Moose 3-2

(Photo Credit: Darren Hauck)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 3-2 in a shootout against the Manitoba Moose at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Wednesday morning.

Since the overhaul around the NHL Trade Deadline the Admirals have gone from losing three straight games to winning four straight games. This game was a grinder and the Admirals for the second time out finished off a shootout in style. The Admirals have gone 8-1 in the shootout this season. That is the most shootout wins in the league this season and ties the Admirals AHL record set back in the 2009-10 season.

“We have to play playoff hockey right now,” stated Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We can’t wait for it to be here. This is our playoffs. We made a real emphasis after the deadline there after we got the players that we got that it’s playoff hockey for us. It has to be or else we’re out.”

The Admirals were out in front first and did so shorthanded. Anthony Richard was overly aggressive on a backcheck and took a hooking call. Yet, the Admirals penalty kill was able to fend off pressure and generate some of their own. Mark Zengerle put a pass across to Justin Kirkland to send him loose on a breakaway where the shootout machine roofed a backhander for his sixth goal of the season.

“I tried to do that shootout move that I normally do and he challenged,” said Justin Kirkland of his shorthanded goal. “He was pretty far out of his net so I thought if I could fake and make one or two moves and try to get it up it would go in. Luckily, I did that. I shoot on [Eric Comrie] a lot in the Summer too. So, I have a few little things that I know about him and he’s got a few little things that he knows about me. I’m looking forward to having bragging rights in the Summer.”

“I think [Kirkland] is likely playing the best hockey that he has played since he’s become a pro,” said Evason. “He doesn’t have the goal total but the way that he’s played he could have sixteen [goals] right now. We really like his development and progress this year.”

It didn’t take the Admirals much longer in the first period to make it a 2-0 lead. Fred Allard hammered a slap shot that Eric Comrie fought off with his left arm. The puck popped up into the air and Trevor Smith was able to glove it down, drop it, and take a quick shot that beat Comrie top shelf for his twelfth goal of the season.

Following their third run on the power-play the Moose were able to get on the board. The man-advantage had ended but the momentum was brewing. Tucker Poolman made a really great play from the point to glide down the left wing on his backhand and tee up JC Lipon on the doorstep for his eleventh goal of the season to make it a 2-1 game in the second period.

The third period would see penalty trouble add up and cost the Admirals. Brandon Bollig was called for cross-checking and then fifteen seconds later Harry Zolnierczyk was whistled for a trip. It took the Moose just four seconds on their two-man advantage to see Sami Niku tie the game at 2-2 after firing a snap shot past Anders Lindbäck off a face-off win for his twelfth goal of the season.

Despite more pressure from the Moose late in regulation this game went to overtime. In fact, after some high level stops from both Lindbäck and Comrie, this game needed a shootout.

The Admirals have been great in the shootout all season and it is a one, two, three punch. Kirkland starts, and scores. Frédérick Gaudreau follows up, and scores. And then Lindbäck shuts the door. The Admirals are now 8-1 in shootout games this season and have equaled the Admirals 2009-10 record for most shootout wins in a single AHL season.

Once again, the new look Admirals played a tight defensive style game. These were back-to-back shootout wins against two of the top teams in the entire league and the Admirals come out the other side with wins. Since the reshuffling of the roster around the NHL Trade Deadline the Admirals have won all four-games played. The additions have been a very welcome boost.

“I think after the deadline it kind of re-energized our group here,” said Milwaukee Admirals captain Trevor Smith of the new additions to the team. “With the moves on the back end with [John Ramage], putting some forwards with some energy, some hometown guys back here. It’s just a good feeling. Boys have responded well.”

The Admirals now turn towards the weekend where they have two more games at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. They will see the Chicago Wolves on Friday at 7:00 PM CST and then the Rockford IceHogs for a 6:00 PM CST face-off on Saturday night.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played there have been no roster moves made within the organization. Today’s line combinations and defensive pairings were: Zolnierczyk-Smith-Butler, Richard-Gaudet-Gaudreau, Bollig-Pettersson-Zengerle, Kirkland-McNeill-Moy, Carrier-Ramage, Lyytinen-Granberg, Allard-Dougherty. Today’s scratches included: Cody Bass (upper-body), Trevor Mingoia (healthy), Jimmy Oligny (upper-body), and Yakov Trenin (healthy). The attendance of today’s game was 7,958.

What were your thoughts on today’s game? How do you feel about the Milwaukee Admirals recent run of games and their defense? Are your ears still ringing from that AM crowd? Because mine are..

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4 thoughts on “The Shootout Maestros; Admirals Beat Moose 3-2”

  1. I have to agree with Evanson on Kirkland’s play, for a guy that I saw as a ghost for most of the first half of the year he’s really grown into his skin here and elevating his game he needs to keep doing the little things that he’s does very well, like board battles and tight defending, his ability in the Shootout is uncanny, it’s a skill that keeps you in the conversation for call-ups.

  2. The more Kirkland doesn’t fight, the more goals he scores! I skipped the game to preserve my hearing. Last year was enough for me. Did Lemieux ever get suspended for what he did in the previous game in Milwaukee?

  3. frontrowjon: I see these guys practice a lot. Justin Kirkland might be the best and most consistent at all drills and has been since last season. It’s simply a matter of translating that to games. I certainly think he works best out on the wing. He isn’t running through guys or going to fight like what Austin Watson did as he kicked out to the wing -but- the move for both just freed them up and let’s more of their skills show. It’s been fantastic seeing Kirkland start being more and more effective away from heads up defensive plays. He can be good all-around.

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