The Milwaukee Admirals split a pair of back to back games this weekend. On Friday the team faced the Iowa Wild in Des Moines where they lost 6-0. On Saturday they returned home to win 2-1 against the Ontario Reign. This was the second time the Admirals have faced both of these teams this season.
Friday, November 16 against Iowa Wild
Milwaukee entered Friday night’s contest having just suffered their first shutout of the season in a 3-0 loss to Iowa on Wednesday.
The team was looking to rectify an embarrassing defeat and come out of their three-game road trip with a 2-1 record. That ended up not being the case as Milwaukee’s lackluster powerplay mixed with the poorest performance of Milwaukee’s otherwise formidable penalty kill unit led the Admirals to their second shutout of the season, losing 6-0.
The first period wasn’t awful. The Admirals came out ready to put up a fight against Iowa and tallied 10 shots on goal in the opening period. Iowa had six shots on net. Both goaltenders were able to keep the score even at zero throughout the first period. Milwaukee did have two powerplay opportunities when at 7:51 Iowa rightwinger Gerald Mayhew went to the box for interference and at 12:14 Matt Read was also given a two-minute minor for interference. Iowa also had their first powerplay chance of the night at 9:09 when Milwaukee netminder Tom McCollum was called for (you guessed it) interference. The Admirals were able to kill this penalty.
The second period is where momentum began to shift away from Milwaukee. At 2:11 into the period Gerald Mayhew scored his fourth goal of the season on an unassisted breakaway. Mayhew was able to backhand the puck that then slowly trickled behind McCollum’s left side.
In an effort to regain some momentum for Milwaukee, team Captain Jarred Tinordi dropped the gloves with Iowa leftwinger and former Milwaukee Admiral Mike Liambas at 3:39. It was a fairly even fight, both players were able to land some heavy right hooks before the linesmen stepped in and ended it.
The remainder of the second period ended up being a constant back and forth of powerplay opportunities for both sides and a brief stint of 4-on-4 hockey. At 6:04 Milwaukee’s Tanner Jeannot was called for hooking and then at 6:49 Frederic Allard was called for “closing hand on puck”. Milwaukee was able to kill the two-man advantage. Tinordi got into another small scrap with Iowa’s Mitch McLain at 12:46 where both were sent to the box for roughing. Milwaukee had the last two powerplay opportunities of the period at 18:38 when Gerry Fitzgerald was called for delay of game. There was a brief two-man advantage at 19:45 when Matt Read was sent to the box for slashing.
The last two periods happened after Iowa extended their lead to 2-0 before the end of the period. Iowa’s Colton Beck was able to muscle in a rebound after a shot from Kyle Rau (6) bounced of the leg of McCollum. Sam Anas (4) had the secondary assist.
The third period was one of those periods of hockey that a team just wishes they could have it back. At 4:57 Mitch McLain (3) was standing in front of the Milwaukee net when Liambas (3) passed from the right corner and McClain was able to tap it in over McCollum’s right shoulder.
At 8:12 Kyle Rau (5) took a pass from McClaim (3) and came down diagonally from the point. He was able to shoot a wrister right over the right shoulder of Tom McCollum.
The Iowa Wild were able to go on the powerplay at 9:38 when Milwaukee’s Matt Donovan was sent to the box for slashing. At 10:56 Matt Read (2) was able to score a powerplay goal on McCollum’s left side with assists from Mason Shaw (10) and Louie Belpedio (4). Right after the goal there was some intense pushing and shoving that led to minor penalties for Tyler Gaudet and Matt Read for roughing. Jeremy Gregoire and Read were both given 10-minute game misconducts. This all led to one last goal by the Wild at 11:31 when Kyle Rau (6) scored off a beautiful pass from former Admiral and Nashville Predator Cal O’Reilly (13).
Another slew of penalties came at 11:56. Milwaukee’s Connor Brickley, Iowa’s Mike Liambas, and Iowa’s Hunter Warner were both given various two-minute minors. All three were also given ten-minute game misconducts and sent to the locker rooms. One last penalty came for Iowa at 18:29 when Mitch McClain was called for slashing.
This was one of those games when you’re reminded that hockey is a funny sport. One night you’re beating the Chicago Wolves 7-2 and then less than a week later you are losing your second consecutive shutout to the Iowa Wild 6-0.
There wasn’t much good to say about this performance. It happens. The Admirals were 0 for 7 on the powerplay and only killed 3 of the 5 Iowa powerplays. If one were to try to find one positive of this performance, it would be that top Nashville prospect Eeli Tolvanen tallied 5 shots on goal, leading the Admirals. Nicholas Baptiste, Frederic Allard, and Anthony Richard all had 4. The Admirals also led in shots on goal in this contest 38-33.
Saturday, November 17 against Ontario Reign
The Admirals returned to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena to host the Ontario Reign. This was the second matchup between these two teams this season, the Admirals have walked away with wins in both.
This matchup was a lot of back and forth hockey. Neither team seemed able to hold the offensive zone for very long. It also may have been one of the quickest games of hockey this writer has ever seen. Play started in Milwaukee a little after 6:00pm Central and the game ended slightly before 8:45pm.
The first half of the first period saw both teams only getting a few shots on goal. It wasn’t until 9:01 into the period when Anthony Richard and Eeli Tolvanen had a two-on-one breakaway. Richard had a backhanded pass to Tolvanen right in front of Ontario netminder Charles Williams. Tolvanen was able to complete the one timer over the right shoulder of Williams for his fourth goal of the season. The puck bounced off the back bar in the net and was moving so fast that the goal lamp never lit. The only indication that there was a goal was the referee signaling that there was. After a video review it was perfectly clear that Tolvanen had scored.
Both teams had a few powerplay opportunities in the first. At 12:48 Ontario’s Sam Herr was called for hooking. Matt Donovan was called for slashing at 16:02. Ontario’s Matt Moulson was sent to the box for high-sticking. At 19:24 Kurtis MacDermind and Milwaukee’s Jeremy Gregoire were both sent to the box for roughing.
The second period saw more back and forth hockey. Both teams had a few scoring chances. Ontario led SOG 7-6. Milwaukee had one powerplay at 14:37 when Ontario’s Sean Walker was called for tripping. Ontario had three powerplays in the second at 3:02 from a Connor Brickley hooking call, at 5:50 when Tanner Jeannot was also called for hooking, and at 17:48 when Alex Carrier was called for tripping. The Admirals were able to kill off all of these penalties.
The third period started with Ontario leftwinger Austin Wagner scoring his second goal of the season to tie the game with assists from Philippe Maillet (7) and Dan Brickley (2). Milwaukee was not going to let it stay tied for long when only one minute later Jeremy Gregoire (5) put a shot on net that bounced off the leg of Williams and Connor Brickley, who had set up shop in front of the net, was able to push it behind Williams and bounced off of the left post and into the net.
Ontario made a last-ditch effort to tie the game when with about two-minutes left to go the Reign pulled Williams in favor of the extra attacker. At 19:00, Matt Donovan was called for delay of game after he accidentally shot the puck out of play in the defensive zone. Milwaukee was able to hold the lead during 6-on-4 play with a few excellent saves by Milwaukee’s Troy Grosenick. Grosenick had 24 saves.
Milwaukee is now 3-5-2 in their last ten contests but still sit tied for first place in the Central with Iowa with 23 points. Since Iowa has played less games than Milwaukee this season the top spot is deferred to Iowa.
It has been a rough few weeks for the Admirals. Their powerplay has continued to struggle with little signs of life and their penalty kill percentage decreased over the last week. There were, however, some signs of life last night. Players were in position to make dangerous plays, the Admirals speed was on display, and they walked away with two points.
Milwaukee has dropped to 15.5% on the powerplay this season after being above 18% a week ago. The penalty kill is still statistically close to where it has been all season at 88.3%. Nevertheless, it is lower than it was at this same time last week.
With several roster shakeups in Nashville it is surprising that nothing has impacted the Admirals as of yet. The return of Austin Watson has definitely shielded the Admirals roster for now. It does seem like Tolvanen is getting more and more comfortable and it is likely that he is the Predators preferred option in the event that a call up is needed.
The Admirals play again on Wednesday November 21st at home against the Iowa Wild. Puck drop is at 7:00pm Central. You can find game recaps here on PenaltyBoxRadio.com