The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-3 in a shootout against the Chicago Wolves on Tuesday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
It was going to take a lot for the Admirals to extend their playoff hopes to the weekend. As Harry Zolnierczyk scored a dramatic game-trying goal with 29.6 seconds remaining the Rockford IceHogs scored into an empty net to secure a win and the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Admirals are officially eliminated from playoff contention with two games remaining in the 2017-18 season.
“Obviously we’re disappointed that we didn’t get the win,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “But obviously Rockford won as soon as we got back in. We would have been out anyway.”
“What we really liked clearly is our no quit. We’ve talked about this all year basically how our group does not quit. They did not tonight, did all the right things. Fell short. We’re really disappointed to not be playing in the playoffs.”
The first tally of the game came within the first thirty-eight seconds of the second period. From the right point, Jake Bischoff took a shot that deflected off the stick of Frederic Allard and found its way past the glove of Anders Lindbäck. The goal from Bischoff was his seventh of the season and gave the Wolves a 1-0 lead.
Anthony Richard tied the game at 1-1 later in the second period on his nineteenth goal of the season. On a give-and-go in the offensive zone, Richard took a shot from the left circle that hit off the post and found its way into the back of the net.
Two minutes into the third period, Mark McNeill was sent to the box for tripping. On the power-play, the Wolves took the lead on Paul Thompson’s twenty-second goal of the season. Stefan Matteau found Thompson who then delivered a backdoor score past Lindback.
The Wolves’ lead extended to 3-1 later in the period thanks to a Teemu Pulkkinen goal. T.J. Tynan dished the puck to Pulkkinen, who then cut across the slot and unloaded a wrister past the blocker of Lindbäck.
Beau Bennett was later whistled for a hooking penalty as the Admirals’ power-play unit was deployed. On the power-play, Frédérick Gaudreau registered his twenty-second goal of the season that cut the Admirals’ deficit to just a goal. Gaudreau was able to get free low at the right-wing and went on to beat Dansk glove-side for the score.
With under three minutes to play, Paul Thompson was called for holding as the Admirals’ power-play unit had another chance to cash in. With 1:29 remaining in regulation, Lindbäck was called to the bench for an extra skater. On the power-play and with the extra attacker on the ice, Harry Zolnierczyk was able to tie the game at 3-3 with just thirty seconds left in the period.
With neither team scoring in the remaining seconds of regulation, or the overtime period, the Admirals and Wolves headed to a shootout. For the Wolves, Brandon Pirri scored while Trevor Smith found the back of the net for the Admirals. In what would be the final round of the shootout, Harry Zolnierczyk was denied while Philip Holm scored the game-winning goal as the Wolves came out of the shootout victorious, 4-3.
With the Admirals falling to the Wolves and the IceHogs defeating the Wild, the Milwaukee Admirals have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. The next game for the Admirals is scheduled for Friday night in Iowa against the Wild, before returning home to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for the Admirals’ final game of the season against the same Iowa Wild team.
“When the puck is dropped we’re going to play hard,” said Evason of the final games of the 2017-18 season. “We’re very professional as a group in there. You saw that tonight. There was no quit. We’re going to be professional. We’re going to work our butts off. And try to win two more hockey games.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Sunday, the team recalled Rick Pinkston from his loan to the Atlanta Gladiators. Tonight’s line combinations were: Richard-Smith-Butler, Zolnierczyk-Gaudet-Gaudreau, Kirkland-Pettersson-McNeill, Bollig-Trenin-Moy, Pinkston-Ramage, Allard-Granberg, Oligny-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches included: Cody Bass (upper-body), Alex Carrier (upper-body), Zeb Knutson (healthy), Joonas Lyytinen (undisclosed), Trevor Mingoia (undisclosed), and Mark Zengerle (undisclosed).
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? What can be taken away from this season of ups and downs? Where is your frustration level on how this season turned out?
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