The Milwaukee Admirals continued their explosive start last night in their first matchup of the season versus the Manitoba Moose. The Predators’ AHL affiliate were awarded another 2-points in the standings after a 4-1 victory at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
The first period set the tone early for the Admirals when Jansen Harkins took a slashing penalty 55 seconds into the period. The Admirals had plenty of shots on goal during the power play, but did not find the back of the net. It wasn’t long after that at 4:05 into the period that Admiral Matt Donovan scored his sixth goal of the season off a pass from Connor Brickley (2). Jeremy Gregoire (3) had the secondary assist on the play. Not even a full two minutes later, Emil Pettersson scored his 4th goal of the season passing Manitoba goaltender Ken Appleby. Matt Donovan (6) had the primary assist and Eeli Tolvanen (5) got his first point of the night with the secondary assist.
Manitoba would be held scoreless through the first period but committed three more penalties; all of which were killed off. The Milwaukee Admirals had one holding penalty during the period at 10:33 against Alexandre Carrier.
The second period was more quiet in terms of scoring. Gregoire scored his first goal of the season with the Admirals. Team captain Jarred Tinordi (2) had the only assist. The Gregoire goal was one that you don’t see often with the Milwaukee Admirals. The team did a great job of crowding the net and trying to get a puck passed Appleby. Gregoire finally did at the 8:48 mark of the second period. Milwaukee held the bulk of the penalties in the second with a Joonas Lyytinen slash (6:24) and then a tripping penalty (19:00). Manitoba did receive one minor penalty in the second period by Kristian Vesalainen for hooking (15:37).
Admirals right-winger Mathieu Olivier dropped the gloves with Manitoba defenceman Peter Stoykewych. The two exchanged several blows, Olivier landing several to the jaw of Stoykewych. Olivier ended the fisticuffs by tackling Stoykewych to the ice and rising triumphantly; gesturing the crowd to “get loud” before making his way to the box to serve 5 minutes.
The third period opened with Manitoba attempting to mount a comeback with a Skyler McKenzie goal at 1:59. The only assist on the goal came from former Milwaukee Admiral center Felix Girard. Girard played 35 games with the Admirals during the 2016-2017 season before moving to the San Antonio Rampage for a season and a half.
Manitoba was unable to generate offense and spent most of the time switching which side of the ice they were on. Manitoba did manage 7 shots on net during the third period. Milwaukee goaltender Tom McCollum stopped play at nearly every chance he had. With Rocco Grimaldi in Nashville, Anthony Richard is now tied as the leading goal scorer for the club after last night where he scored at 13:44 off of a beautiful pass from Eeli Tolvanen and Emil Pettersson (4). Manitoba, making a last ditch effort to generate some offense pulled Ken Appleby with about 4:40 left in the period. This was when the bulk of Manitoba’s shots during the period took place, but McCollum was up to the task. Admiral Matthew Lane then took a high-sticking double minor at 18:27. The Admirals had several clearing attempts, all of which missed the empty Manitoba net. Tolvanen almost broke away from the Manitoba defensemen, but eventually tried to pass the puck and the puck was deflected out of play at the red line.
It is clear that this Milwaukee Admirals team wants to play for coach Karl Taylor. He has had a lot of positive impacts on several of this team’s tendencies that have been infuriating over the last several seasons. Passing is more crisp, the Admirals hold the zone better, and they are putting shots on goal. Milwaukee put 41 shots on goal during the contest; Manitoba with 24, never breaking 10 in a single period. The one aspect of the Admirals game that will turn them into a force in the AHL is improving their ability to crowd the net and create confusion for the opposing goaltender. The Admirals are now 8-1-1-0 in this very young season and are doing some great things to develop future Predators. Eeli Tolvanen seems to be getting used to the smaller North American ice, but has thus far fancied himself a playmaker as opposed to a goal scorer. He put seven shots on net last night, almost all of which took place from the top of the circle. He has a canon of a shot, but Appleby just had enough space to see each.
Milwaukee’s next game is Tuesday at home versus the Manitoba Moose at 7:00PM Central.