The Milwaukee Admirals are in the hunt for the fourth and final spot in the Central Division for the Calder Cup Playoffs, a position held by Central Division rival the Rockford IceHogs. Milwaukee had back-to-back matchups with Rockford on Friday and Saturday and took away all four points available.
Friday March 22nd vs. Rockford (Home)
Going into the weekend, Rockford had a winning record against the Admirals this season. By the way things started on Friday it appeared that Rockford was going to extend that lead. Dennis Gilbert scored against Milwaukee net-minder Troy Grosenick 36 seconds into the first period. However, Milwaukee was not about to let that stand. Colin Blackwell (10) scored on the powerplay a little over a minute later at 1:48 with assists from Carrier (23) and Kirkland (18). Joe Pendenza scored his fourth of the season at 6:04 with an assist from Yakov Trenin (16). Towards the end of the first Phil Di Giuseppe scored his second of the season at 14:33.
Fast-forwarding to the third period, Zach Magwood was called for tripping which allowed Rockford forward Victor Ejdsell to score a powerplay goal at 6:27 to bring the IceHogs within one. A minute and 10 seconds later, Anthony Richard scored his 20th goal of the season with assists from Laurent Dauphin (18) and Jarred Tinordi (13). This is a career high for Richard. The Admirals won 4-2.
Saturday March 23rd vs. Rockford (Away)
The Admirals didn’t just win their Saturday matchup, they completely obliterated the IceHogs. The Admirals swung their series lead over the IceHogs into their favor.
The first period was all Milwaukee. Anthony Richard (21) scored early after a breakaway chance at 4:52. Less than two minutes later Colin Blackwell would beat Rockford goaltender Collin Delia to score his 11th of the season. At 13:51 Cole Schneider (16) scored his first goal of the game to give Milwaukee a three goal lead.
Rockford came out for the second period looking like they were ready to mount a comeback. They dominated play for the first 10 minutes of the second and scored two goals (Schroeder at 0:59 and Tuulola at 2:40). That was all we would hear from Rockford in this game. At 15:04 Phil Di Giuseppe become the third Admiral to score in Friday and Saturday night’s game. Cole Schneider (17) would score his second of the game at 15:35.
Milwaukee was still not finished. They scored three more goals in the third period. At 9:02 Joe Pendenza became the fourth Admiral to score in back-to-back games. Eeli Tolvanen netted his 12th of the season at 13:27. Matieu Olivier scored his fourth of the season at 17:07 to finish off this 8-2 blowout.
As I said in my last post, the Admirals needed to take advantage of their three straight matchups against Rockford if they have any hope of making the playoffs. They certainly took advantage of the first two pairings. Offensive dominance and solid goaltending from both Grosenick and McCollum.
The Admirals signed Predators prospect Tommy Novak to an ATO contract earlier this week. He notched his first professional point on the Colin Blackwell goal on Saturday.
The Admirals are now sitting 1-point out of fourth place with another contest against Rockford on Wednesday. However, Manitoba has come up and taken the fourth place spot with a game in hand over Rockford. The fourth spot is up for grabs with Manitoba, Rockford, Texas, and Milwaukee all in a viable spot to claim it for themselves.
The Admirals have nine games remaining with three more matchups against Rockford.
Additionally, Austin Watson and Miikka Salomaki have been assigned to the Admirals on long term injury loan.