The Milwaukee Admirals were in action for practice this morning. The team is set for two-games at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena this weekend. It starts tomorrow night against the Texas Stars and ends with the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday. The Admirals are continuing to battle for their playoff lives but time, and the Rockford IceHogs, are starting to run away from them.
Last night, the Iowa Wild made the trek up from Des Moines after having battled Friday and Saturday against the Grand Rapids Griffins. No one in our area enjoys using the term “tired” as an excuse but it is one I feel the Wild can easily be afforded without shame. The Milwaukee Admirals pounded them 7-2 and did so taking advantage of some serious mental lapses on the part of the Wild and otherwise just burning them with added energy and pace.
During the Milwaukee Admirals three-game losing streak it wasn’t that they were playing poorly. What was happening was their offense was stuck in neutral most of the time. The opponent last night was the Rockford IceHogs who had previously held the Admirals to twelve shots on goal inside of regulation in consecutive games. It was starting to feel like last night’s game was falling ever so slightly slat again. And then Anthony Richard scored twenty-five seconds before the end of the second period. It was the jolt the Admirals needed.
For much of last night’s game I was confused. Both the Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Griffins were stumbling around, sputtering, crashing into themselves, and having issues connecting passes. It looked an awful lot like a pre-season game more than it did two teams towards the end of a regular season with playoff implications hanging in the air. And then the Griffins scored. And scored again.
The Admirals were flat at a time when they couldn’t be. The Admirals lost 2-1. They are now 6 points back from the final playoff spot and even then would still need to inch above where the Griffins are based on regulation wins. There are 11 games remaining in the 2017-18 season for the Admirals. They’re running out of time for lag, lulls, and an inept offense.
The Milwaukee Admirals appear to be locked into some voodoo-like state against the Rockford IceHogs of late. It’s almost hard to fathom what your eyes are seeing as it all unfolds. Two games in just over a week’s time. Both at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Hardly any shots on goal from the Admirals – and they still win.
Welp, the Milwaukee Admirals weren’t about to win out for the rest of the season – as much as that would have greatly helped punch a ticket into the 2018 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. The Admirals matched up with a team on a winning streak of their own and now the Chicago Wolves are on the league’s hottest active winning streak at six-games.
It’s really how last night’s game ended that is leaving such a sour taste in the Admirals mouths. Petter Granberg was called for boarding with 3:03 remaining in regulation. After all that happened in that game, KER-BLAMMO (that wasn’t a penalty), it felt harsh for a call to decide that game. Though, that’s exactly what ended up happening. Zac Leslie scored a power-play goal for the Wolves with 1:47 remaining in regulation. The Wolves would win 4-3 and win off of that Leslie power-play goal coming off of the Granberg penalty call.
This morning was an optional skate for the Milwaukee Admirals. It has been quite a whirlwind two weeks to be honest: traveling to Manitoba, traveling to Texas, traveling back home, three games in three days with the middle game featuring a five hour bus ride in and out of Grand Rapids, and then playing a game at 10:30 AM. Still, with the team buzzing on a four-game winning streak, it was fun to hit the rink at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and check in with the team.
For the first time during one of these School Day Games that the Milwaukee Admirals put together I decided it was a good idea to wear ear protection. I had my headphones on with no audio going through them – and the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena was still rocking. These games just haven’t disappointed since the Admirals put them on and the 7,958 in attendance got to see a show. The Admirals beat the Manitoba Moose 3-2 in a shootout to extend their winning streak to four-games and keep this playoff push alive.
I wasn’t going to say it on Friday. I wasn’t about to say it on Saturday. And I certainly wasn’t going to say it on Sunday. That might have jinxed it. Yet, today is Monday. The Milwaukee Admirals played three-games in three-days and they didn’t make a game changing mistake in any single play of those hockey games against great teams. Friday, 4-1 win against the Rockford IceHogs. Saturday, 4-1 win on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Sunday, 3-2 overtime win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. 180 minutes of structured, smart, and defensively sound Admirals hockey in the face of immense pressure. This was talked up by the coaching staff and players as one of the most important weekends of this season. They came together as team and succeeded.
I had two ideas of how last night’s game was going to go for the Milwaukee Admirals. Either all of those alterations made around the NHL Trade Deadline were going to have a great impact and boost the team or it would be more of the same. I can’t even say either of those two completely happened but what did happen was one of the strangest games that the Admirals may have played – ever. And it can be backed up statistically.