MILWAUKEE - The Admirals tallied their first home win of the season Wednesday night, beating the league-leading Charlotte Checkers 5-4 in regulation in their first of two home games this week. Eleven different Admirals earned points on the night, including goals from Chris Mueller, Patrick Cehlin, Kevin Henderson, Austin Watson and Daniel Bang.
Newcomer Magnus Hellberg made his home debut in net for Milwaukee, while former Nashville Predators goaltender Dan Ellis got the start for Charlotte. This is Ellis' first appearance at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, as Justin Peters for the start at the October 19th game. He played for the Predators for three seasons starting in 2007, and went on to play with the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks prior to signing with Charlotte during the off-season.
The Admirals returned to home ice Wednesday night after finishing a four game road trip down south. The team went 1-3 during their tour of Texas, winning their lone game in overtime against Houston on the 21st. Two of the three losses suffered at the hands of the South Divisions team were shutouts, landing Milwaukee in last place in the Western Conference.
The Checkers were first on the board midway through the first with a breakaway goal from forward Jared Staal. The goal marked the first of the season for Staal, who is the younger brother of Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal and Rangers alternate captain Marc Staal.
Milwaukee evened the score during the man-advantage courtesy of a Jerome Samson hooking call at 8:04 of the first. Chris Mueller tallied his third of the season with a backhander through the crease midway through the power-play.
Forward Patrick Cehlin potted his fourth goal of the season, lifting the puck over a sprawling Ellis to give Milwaukee their first 1st period lead of the season and a 2-1 lead midway through the first. Unfortunately, celebration on the Admirals end didn't last long, as Checkers winger Drayson Bowman capitalized on his own rebound to tie the game at two-a-piece shortly after the Admirals took the lead.
The two teams traded goals in the back half of the second period, with forward Kevin Henderson scoring his second of the season to briefly give Milwaukee the 3-2 lead. Charlotte's Brett Sutter made it a 3-3 contest two minutes later after Michal Jordan sent a textbook-perfect pass up to an awaiting Sutter, who beat Hellberg with a slap shot for his fourth of the season.
Forward Austin Watson notched his first of the year to give the Admirals another brief lead midway through the final frame. Watson put away a Juuso Puustinen attempt, which was quickly evened with a sniper from Charlotte defenseman Justin Faulk, who scored from the near circle a few minutes later. Not to be outdone, Milwaukee's Daniel Bang got his first of the season less than a minute after the Faulk goal thanks to a nice feed from linemate Juuso Puustinen.
Charlotte pulled Ellis in favor of the extra attacker with less than a minute left in regulation, and then had the advantage of a power-play resulting from a cross-checking call with :20 to go in the third. Milwaukee held on to their one goal lead to take their first home victory of the season. The game also marked the first North American win for Hellberg, and snaps the squads two-game losing streak.
Tonight, the Admirals face off against North Division Lake Erie Monsters, who are currently riding a two game winning streal and are neck and neck with the Abbotsford Heat for first place in the division. There is a familiar name on the Monsters roster, as former Milwaukee Admiral goaltender Chet Pickard is the older brother of Monsters goalie Calvin Pickard.
Also worthy noting is that Admirals newcomer Anthony Bitteto has set up a donation site for his hometown of Island Park, New York, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Every little bit helps, so please visit his page and make a donation today! Admirals beat writer Dave Boehler also wrote a great article about Bitteto and the fundraising, so please be sure to check that out as well!