The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 in a shootout against the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
The Admirals returned to winning ways tonight and did so again in a shootout. With the combination of Anders Lindbäck’s incredible night in net, and Justin Kirkland’s shootout magic, the Admirals set a record for the most shootout wins in a single AHL season with their ninth shootout victory.
“We didn’t have a lot of jump tonight,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of the team’s energy level. “[The Rockford IceHogs] had a lot of jump. They’re a fast team, combined with fresh. It really was a challenge for our group. We’re really proud of the way the guys competed, battled. Obviously our goaltender was outstanding. We didn’t throw a lot of pucks at their net. Couldn’t really get to their net but we were able to persevere.
After neither team found the back of the net in the opening period, the Admirals got on the board on Trevor Smith’s thirteenth goal of the season in the second period. From behind the net, Bobby Butler found Trevor Smith in front of the net who then fired a one-timer high over the glove of Collin Delia to put the Admirals up 1-0. Following the goal, fans immediately started firing their stuffed animals over the glass as part of the annual Teddy Bear Toss.
“I was a little surprised,” smiled Trevor Smith of the Teddy Bear Toss goal. “One kind of hit me on the side. It took awhile to pick them all up. It was nice to see the fans, the community of Milwaukee, coming in for tonight’s game with all the teddy bears going for a good cause.”
In the second period, the Admirals found themselves outshot 11-2 and 19-5 for the game. The Admirals registered two shots in the second period, tying a franchise-low record for shots in a period which was set on 3/2/18 against these same Rockford IceHogs.
“Well, our thought process is to get pucks to the net and to get people to the net,” explained Evason. “But with [Rockford]’s speed they take your time and space away, they take your lanes away, and you don’t have the opportunity to shoot as quickly as you’d like to and or you feel threatened against blocks. So, we had a lot of pucks go back behind the net and then we just couldn’t get our cycle off of that.”
The IceHogs cracked the scoreboard 12:08 into the third period to tie the game at one apiece. The score came from William Pelletier as he skated all alone down the right-wing and fired from the circle past Anders Lindbäck for his tenth goal of the season.
The game would remain 1-1 after sixty minutes as we headed to overtime. With neither team finding the back of the net in overtime, the Admirals and IceHogs headed to a shootout.
In the first round of the shootout, Justin Kirkland scored and Anthony Louis was stopped. In the second round, Frédérick Gaudreau and Adam Clendening were both stopped. In the third and final round, Harry Zolnierczyk was stopped, followed by Anders Lindbäck making the game-winning save against Chris DiDomenico to secure the 2-1 victory for the Admirals.
The shootout victory now makes the Admirals 9-1 in shootouts this season. With the win, the Admirals set a franchise record with their ninth shootout win in a single AHL season. That mark was previously set during the 2009-10 season. Not only that, but Justin Kirkland is now 8/9 in shootout opportunities this season with tonight’s score.
“I’m surprised teams don’t know the move by now,” laughed Jack Dougherty of Justin Kirkland’s efforts in the shootout. “It’s tough for teams to beat us when we start off with a goal every time in the shootout.”
Once again, Anders Lindbäck was phenomenal. The only blemish against Lindbäck was a William Pelletier goal in the third period. Lindbäck stopped 24/25 shots he faced in the game and made some heroic stops in overtime and the shootout. Most importantly, he made the final stop against Chris DiDomenico in the last round of the shootout to give the Admirals the win.
“It could have easily been 10-1. He stole one for us,” said Dougherty of Lindbäck. “He’s been doing that a lot this year. It’s really comforting, especially with how many young guys we have on the back end, to know that if we do make a mistake he’s going to be there to hopefully bail us out. He’s been great all year and that’s just a guy you can’t replace.”
The Admirals will now head out west for a three-game swing in California. The Admirals’ next game comes on Wednesday night against the Stockton Heat. Their next game at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena takes place on Tuesday March 20th against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Friday night there have not been any roster moves made within the organization. Tonight’s line combinations were Zolnierczyk-Smith-Butler, Richard-Gaudet-Gaudreau, Bollig-Pettersson-Zengerle, Kirkland-McNeill-Moy, Lyytinen-Granberg, Carrier-Ramage, Oligny-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were Fred Allard (healthy), Cody Bass (upper-body), Trevor Mingoia (healthy), and Yakov Trenin (healthy).
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? What is it about the Rockford IceHogs that causes the Milwaukee Admirals so many problems offensively? Can the Admirals continue this recent hot streak in their upcoming three-game road trip?
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