MILWAUKEE- It's been three weeks and seven games since the Admirals have skated at on home ice, and they certainly gave fans quite the homecoming with a huge 3-2 win over the Amtrak Rival Chicago Wolves. Milwaukee scored a pair of goals in the final minutes of the game to secure their third win in a row, marking a season long winning streak for the 2012-2013 campaign. Victor Bartley, Gabriel Bourque and Chris Mueller all scored goals for Milwaukee, while starting goaltender Jeremy Smith made 19 saves on 21 shots.
The Admirals went 3-2-1-1 during the seven-game season-long road trip, which included wins in Rockford, Chicago and Grand Rapids, a pair of losses in Oklahoma City, and OT losses in Peoria and Chicago. Forward Daniel Bang shined during the road trip, putting an assist on the board every game and contributing a goal in Milwaukee's shootout win Saturday night in Chicago.
Although the Admirals put a lot of pressure on Chicago goaltender Matt Climie in the early minutes of the game, the Wolves lit the lamp first with a goal from F Bill Sweatt. Line mate Jordan Schroeder brought the puck up the far boards and sent a pass through the slot to an awaiting Sweatt, who beat Smith with a wrister for his fourth tally of the season.
A textbook pass from F Jani Lajunen to an awaiting Victor Bartley resulted in a lamp-lighting slap shot from the far circle to tie the game at one. The goal marked the first of the season for the 24-year old Ottawa, Ontario native Bartley, and also marked the first point of the season for Lajunen.
Although Milwaukee out shot Chicago 22-10 after two periods, the Admirals didn't quite impress on the power-play. They went 0/4 on the man-advantage through the first 40 minutes, which is even more unimpressive seeing that it is against the leagues 30th-ranked penalty kill team. It was a trend that continued through the rest of the game, and coach Dean Evason was none too pleased with what Milwaukee looked like on the power-play:
"... We're trying to simplify our game, we miss Taylor Beck. It's not an excuse, but he's the guy that controls the play for us, and when our power-play was successful early, he was the guy who was providing us with a lot of offensive situations and tries. Having said that, we've asked our group to simplify their game. We're very stale on our power-play right now, but our penalty-kill has been good for the most part... "
After a scoreless second period, Wolves F Darren Archibald scored the games lone power-play goal to give the Wolves a 2-1 lead just nine seconds into their man-advantage. After Admirals D Joonas Jarvinen was called for for holding with just over five minutes to go, Archibald put away his own rebound for his first of the season.
With time quickly winding down, Milwaukee used their timeout in preparation to pull Smith from goal for an extra attacker. Just :12 after the time out, F Gabriel Bourque managed to sneak the puck through traffic and tied the game with 1:25 to go in regulation.
What looked like a game that would be heading to overtime, Milwaukee stunned the arena when Chris Mueller tallied the game winner with :20 left on the clock. Mueller snapped the puck just inside the right post for his 9th of the season.
The Admirals return to home ice Wednesday evening to play the Texas Stars at the BMO for the first time this season. Looking ahead to the match up, Texas sits in 4th place in the South Division with a record that is almost identical to Milwaukees record. The team also riding a three-game winning streak like the Admirals are. In the two teams first meeting of the season, Texas topped Milwaukee by a score of 3-1 back on October 24th.
Also worth noting...
The Admirals recalled G Zoltan Hetenyi from Cincinnati, and reassigned G Magnus Hellberg to the Cyclones yesterday afternoon. Hetenyi, a native of Budapest, Hungary, posted a 2-4 record with a .878 save percentage and 3.02 goals against average in the seven games he played with the Cyclones. I asked coach Evason about the goalie swap, and he assured us that Hellberg is only in Cincinnati temporarily and is expected to be back in town Sunday:
"Our thought process was more for Hellberg to play two games back-to-back, he hasn't done that over here and we had an opportunity for him to do that... It's just a real good opportunity for him to, not only play hockey, but to see how he reacts to two-in-two nights with travel. It's more of an opportunity for him to see what it's like to play back-to-back."