Friday November 23rd vs. the Grand Rapids Griffins
On a night when Nashville Predators fans didn’t have much to cheer about, they can find comfort in knowing that the Milwaukee Admirals are on a three-game winning streak after a 3-2 shootout victory over the Grand Rapid Griffins on Friday night.
The Admirals overcame several obstacles that could have ensured a loss. Tom McCollum was supposed to start on Friday night against his former team, but came down with a cold and opted to stick it out on the bench. Without enough time to call up Svoboda from the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL), McCollum was still suited up. Top Predators prospect Eeli Tolvanen also has been battling illness all week and was scratched for Friday’s matchup.
Play started at 7:10pm Eastern at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI and it was a fairly even match throughout the game. This Grand Rapids team has been working on ramping up production after a lackluster start to the season. Milwaukee even got the first powerplay opportunity in this matchup when at 1:32 Matthew Ford was called for tripping. Milwaukee was able to kill this penalty. Grand Rapids still was able to open up scoring when at 9:19 right-winger Matt Puempel (6) was able to beat Milwaukee netminder Troy Grosenick to score his first of the game. There were two more penalties in the period at 13:04 when Frederic Allard shot the puck out of play and was called for delay of game and at 19:16 Puempel was called for hooking. Both teams were able to kill all of the penalties in this period. Grand Rapids obliterated the Admirals in shots on goal for the period 18-4.
The second period got an early 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity for the Milwaukee Admirals at six seconds into the period Joe Hicketts was called for delay of game when he shot the puck right into the stands on a clearing attempt. Milwaukee had one solid scoring attempt early in the two-man advantage when Rocco Grimaldi pinged one off the post. Grand Rapids killed off both of the penalties. The Griffins would get two more powerplay opportunities when at 4:50 Yakov Trenin was called for slashing and at 15:34 Frederic Allard was called for the same. The Admirals killed both penalties.
The Admirals finally got on the board during the Allard penalty at 16:23. Team captain Jarred Tinordi (6) carried the puck through the neutral zone into the Griffins zone and ripped a shot that bounced off the ankle of a Griffins defender when Mathieu Olivier (2) was able to backhand a shot from between the circles over the right shoulder of Grand Rapids goaltender Patrik Rybar. This was Milwaukee’s second short-handed goal of the season. Grand Rapids still led the Admirals in SOG 15-12 in the second.
Both teams were able to find the back of the net in the third period. At 10:49 Matt Puempel (7) scored his second of the night on a powerplay after Matt Donovan was called for holding at 9:57. Milwaukee was not far behind when at 11:09 Milwaukee left-winger Tanner Jeannot (4) was able to push the puck past Rybar after the Admirals were able to cause some confusion in front of the net. A play that the Admirals have improved on drastically in compared to last season. Alexandre Carrier (7) and Justin Kirkland (7) had the assists on the play. There were a few other penalties during the period. Rocco Grimaldi was called at 5:19 for slashing and Mathieu Olivier and Grand Rapids’ Filip Kronek were called for roughing minors after a small scrap after a play at 7:15. The two teams were tied for 7 shots a piece in this period.
For the second time in two straight games, three periods were not enough to settle this one.
The overtime period looked promising for the Admirals and they certainly dominated play. At three seconds into overtime Grand Rapids’ Wade Megan was called for high-sticking after his hit Rocco Grimaldi in the face. The Admirals had all five shots in overtime, most of which came during the powerplay. Grand Rapids didn’t tally a single shot on goal during overtime. We had to settle this one in a shootout.
Troy Grosenick was lights out again in the shootout, improving to 11-7 in his career on the shootout. This was his second shootout of the season and was Milwaukee’s third. The lone goal for either team came in the last round when Anthony Richard swerved left above the right circle before coming center, deking around Rybar’s right leg and pushing it in behind him. Grosenick stopped Grand Rapids’ last shot by Filip Hronek to secure the win.
The Milwaukee Admirals struggled throughout the first half of November so it is nice to see the team mounting a winning streak, even if two of them came in shootouts.
It was nice having Rocco Grimaldi back now for a few games. The pace of Milwaukee’s game has noticeably changed since his return. He was +1 on Friday and registered 3 shots on goal.
Saturday November 26th vs. Rockford IceHogs
The Admirals returned home on Saturday to face the Rockford IceHogs for the third time this season. Milwaukee had dropped both previous matches against Rockford up to this point. However, the Admirals picked up their first win against Rockford in ANOTHER shootout on Saturday where they won 2-1.
This will be the quickest game recap of all time. Rockford got on the scoreboard at 3:03 into the first period when Rockford leftwinger Matheson Iacopelli (2) scored an unassisted goal, beating Milwaukee netminder Troy Grosenick. Grosenick has started the last four matchups. Milwaukee was not far behind to tie things back up when Justin Kirkland scored his second goal of the season with assists from Nicholas Baptiste (3) and Frederic Allard (14) at 3:44.
Neither team scored again until the shootout. Milwaukee had six powerplay opportunities through the game and didn’t net a single one of them. However, they were able to kill off all seven Rockford powerplays. Rockford led Milwaukee in shots on goal for the first (14-6) and second (10-9) periods. Milwaukee led in the third (10-7) and in overtime (4-1). Speaking of overtime, Milwaukee had their second overtime period of total domination. Milwaukee had about 59 seconds of 5-on-3 play during overtime after Rockford’s Tyler Sikura was called for hooking at 0:19 and Nathan Noel was called for tripping at 1:23. Rockford’s goaltender Collin Delia was lights out throughout overtime.
The Admirals went into their third straight shootout appearance. Anthony Richard and Justin Kirkland both scored for the Admirals, who are conveniently the only two shooters it took to secure the win. Troy Grosenick has been incredible in the shootout and stopped Anthony Louis and Victor Ejdsell from giving Rockford a chance.
Eeli Tolvanen made his return to the lineup in this matchup and tallied five shots on goal. Soon enough he will be dominating scoring for the Admirals. He continues to lead the Admirals in shots on goal in the appearances that he has. He will start finding the back of the net more often soon.
Rocco Grimaldi did not appear on Saturday as he had been recalled by the Nashville Predators to fill a roster spot after Kyle Turris was put on IR.
Troy Grosenick’s last few appearances have been incredible. If your team is not going to tally more than 2 goals in a game you need your goaltender to play the way Grosenick has been.
These two contests have been dismal to Milwaukee’s powerplay rating. Milwaukee has fallen to 14.3% on the powerplay which is six from last in the AHL. Their penalty kill rating did slightly improve from Friday to Saturday and now sits at 87.8% which is second in the AHL.
Milwaukee continues to sit at the top of the Central division with 29-points. The Iowa Wild have a steady hold on second with 27. The Chicago Wolves are in third with 23-points.
The Admirals now have a four-game winning streak, which is their longest in November! They now have a nice break and don’t play again until Friday November 30th at 7:00pm at home against the Texas Stars.
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