2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 40 G.P., 17-17-3-3–40 pts., 100 goals scored, 114 goals allowed, 13th place in the Western Conference (Last Midwest Division). Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (6 goals, 21 assists, 27 points). Best Recent Win: None. Worst Recent Loss: Jan. 20, 2-0 at Abbotsford. Key Upcoming Matchup: Jan. 25 vs. Oklahoma City.
Can you remember the last time Milwaukee won? I know I can! It was on January 6, when the Admirals posted a 3-2 win in a shootout over Grand Rapids. It came as part of a weekend where Milwaukee picked up five out of a possible six points, and also just happened to come on the day the NHL lockout ended.
One thing I remember about that weekend was how good Austin Watson was. He scored the game-winner against Chicago in the final two minutes on Thursday night and then the Admirals’ only shootout goal against Oklahoma City two nights later.
For Watson its been an up-and-down first professional season. He was dominant for Milwaukee in November, scoring 11 points. But the the rookie went dormant on the score sheet for a seven-game stretch in December. Watson, whose never been known as a huge goal scorer, has struggled offensively to tally goals in January (who hasn’t for Milwaukee), going four games without one during the Admirals recent swoon.
Watson got a big goal in Milwaukee’s loss to Houston and now leads the Admirals with 14 on the season. Though there is a lot of outside pressure on Watson, which I chronicled in my feature today on MilwaukeeAdmirals.com, Milwaukee will need him to contribute even more for Milwaukee to end their second straight January tailspin.
A good place to start a turnaround would be Friday night at the Bradley Center against Oklahoma City. Clearly, Milwaukee hasn’t responded well to the end of the lockout. But the rest of the AHL isn’t going to feel sorry for the Admirals, especially the Barons. Five of OKC’s top six scorers, a staggering 80 goals and 200 points, have moved on to the next level.
Perhaps a game against the Barons is exactly the wake-up call Milwaukee needs.
So Roundtable . . . What do you think of Austin Watson first season? Do you think a game against Oklahoma City will help end the January slide?
With a chance to retake first place in the West Division, Milwaukee’s normally dormant shootout skills caught fire Tuesday night, going a perfect four-for-four against Oklahoma City to deliver a 4-3 home win.
Admirals shooters Mark Santorelli, Mark Van Guilder, Gabriel Bourque and Ryan Thang all converted, while goaltender Jeremy Smith stopped two of three Oklahoma City attempts to preserve the victory.
With the two points, Milwaukee moves back into first place at 89 points. The Admirals now sit one point clear of Houston, which lost 3-0 to Texas tonight.
Riding a fast start, Milwaukee opened the scoring 14:34 into the hockey game. Off a transition pass from Teemu Laakso, Ryan Thang’s bad angle shot from the bottom of the right face off dot caught goaltender Jeff Deslauriers sliding and squeezed through the five-hole.
“It was quick little regroup play,” said Thang at the first intermission. “I beat their defense back up the ice, but I got a little lucky with the shot.”
In the final minute of the first period, Oklahoma City countered after Thang took a slashing penalty. On their fourth rebound opportunity, Anthony Aiello scored into a wide-open Milwaukee net.
The Admirals regained a one-goal advantage seven minutes into the second period on a brilliant play from Roman Josi and Chris Mueller. Off a breakout Josi found Mueller at center ice with a step on Aiello. With a tape-to-tape 100-foot stretch pass, Josi sprung Mueller on a breakaway. Mueller finished off the play with a brilliant deke.
Seven minutes later the Barons again tied the game, this time with a deflection goal by Andrew Lord. Lord, who dressed for a pair of games with Milwaukee earlier this season, had his first AHL goal of 2010-2011 find twine off of goaltender Jeremy Smith’s mask.
Milwaukee countered yet again at the 17:38 mark of the second period, this time on the power play. After Josi busted his stick, Andreas Thuresson found Kelsey Wilson alone in front of Deslauriers. Wilson tucked a backhand shot through his legs, through Deslauriers’ wickets and across the goal line for a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Pressing in the third period, Oklahoma City peppered Smith, finally scoring on a five-on-three power play in the last four minutes. Mark Arcobello scored the tying goal on one-timer off of a cross-crease pass from Brad Moran.
Overtime saw bizarre string of four minor penalties in quick succession, resulting in an extended period of four-on-three and five-on-three power play time for Milwaukee, but the Admirals only managed a couple of marginal chances to leave the game tied at three after 65 minutes.
Despite allowing three goals on 38 shots, Smith was superb. But the Admirals netminder saved his best save for the overtime, stretching across for a highlight reel right leg stop on a three-on-one in the first minute of overtime.
Smith now has 12 wins this season and sports a record of 12-6-2.
“The win felt really good for our team,” Smith said. “We really stuck with it and played well tonight, but were not thinking of anything else other than finishing in first place.”
With Nashville’s 3-1 win over Edmonton tonight, the Predators organization went 2-0 against the Oilers organization on Tuesday. Thanks to the one point gained, the Barons move up to 82 on the year to take over solo possession of fourth place in the West Division.
Milwaukee continues the home stand Friday night with their final regular season meeting with Chicago.
Tonight’s Admirals lineup (starters in ALL-CAPS):
Goaltender: JEREMY SMITH
Defense: AARON JOHNSON-BRETT PALIN
Roman Josi-Teemu Laakso
Grant Lewis-Scott Ford
Forwards: KELSEY WILSON-MARK VAN GUILDER-ANDREAS THURESSON
Dylan Hunter-Mike Bartlett-Ryan Flynn
Gabriel Bourque-Chris Mueller-Ryan Thang
Brock McBride-Connor Shields-Mark Santorelli
Injury updates: Forward Steve Begin is getting close to returning according to coach Lane Lambert. Both Mark Dekanich and Linus Klasen remain a long distance away from returning.
Some questions for discussion:
1) With 10 games to play in the regular season, has Milwaukee finally found some playoff security with win 38 of the year?
2) Would Oklahoma City be a favorable match up for Milwaukee in the first round of the AHL playoffs?
3) Tonight was an on/off night for the Milwaukee power play. Are some of the missing go-to scorers, Jonathon Blum, Blake Geoffrion and Linus Klasen, holding the special teams back?
Remember those early season troubles with Oklahoma City? Consider them a thing of the past.
Grant Lewis carried the day for Milwaukee, racking up a three point night as the Admirals completely shut down the Barons with a 6-1 victory Wednesday’s night.
Things didn’t look good for Milwaukee in the early going as Oklahoma City center Milan Kytnar opened the scoring just 1:29 in. But the Barons got into penalty trouble from that point forward and Lewis took over.
First Lewis helped setup Gabriel Bourque’s power play goal five minutes in. Then in the final minute of the first period, Lewis doubled his goal total with a power play tally. 52 seconds later Ryan Flynn picked up the back breaker for the Admirals, giving Milwaukee a 3-1 lead with just five seconds left in the opening stanza.
Milwaukee added three more goals in the second period for the final margin of victory. First it was Ryan Thang, then Lewis scored his second of the game, and finally Andreas Thuresson closed out the scoring. The Admirals coasted home from there with a rather uneventful third period.
After a rough first AHL start in Milwaukee on Tuesday, goaltender Anders Lindback had a solid night in between the pipes for the Admirals, stopping 32 of 33 shots.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee lit up longtime NHL netminder Martin Gerber with four goals on just 17 shots, before chasing him out of the net in the second period.
Tonight marked the Admirals first action against the Barons with Zack Stortini in the line up, but the heavy weight goon was quiet against Milwaukee. Stortini picked up just one minor penalty for tripping late in the first period. However, that penalty resulted in the Admirals’ second goal.
Along with Lewis, Milwaukee got multi-point nights from Roman Josi (2 assists), Blake Geoffrion (2 assists), Ryan Thang (1 goal, 1 assist) and Gabriel Bourque (1 goal, 1 assist).
No Linus Klasen in the line up proved no problem for the Admirals offensively on this two-game southern swing. Milwaukee racked up 11 goals in the back to back games.
With the win the Admirals actually gained some separation in the Western Conference race. Milwaukee moved up to 75 points on the season, which is four in front of second place Peoria.
The Admirals return home Friday for another clash with the Chicago Wolves. It is Milwaukee’s only home game in their next five contests.
So Roundtable, what do you think of the outstanding night from Grant Lewis? Could he a be a solution to Milwaukee’s power play struggles, or was tonight’s effort just a fluke?
A pair of three games in three nights. A four games in five nights stretch. Seven total games in 10 days. No matter how you slice it, Milwaukee sure is going to get its money’s worth of playing hockey in the Texas vicinity over the next week and a half.
But this will hardly be a vacation to the warmth of the Lone Star state. The Admirals will be facing quality hockey clubs in each contest over the trip, including bookend games with the the West Division leading San Antonio Rampage. There is also a pair of games in Austin where Milwaukee will face last year’s Western Conference Champions, the Texas Stars.
But perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the trip comes with a pair of games in Oklahoma City. The Admirals and Barons each stand at 21 points (The Ads have played two less games), so Milwaukee’s first ever trip to Oklahoma’s state capital takes on even more significance.
With a majority of home games remaining on the schedule after December 1st, a few big wins on this trip would put the streaking Admirals in excellent position through the first quarter of the season.
So Roundtable, how many wins are you expecting for Milwaukee on their seven game Texas swing? And how many wins does Milwaukee need for the trip to be considered a success?
News & Discussion Site For Your Milwaukee Admirals