The Milwaukee Admirals got revenge for last week’s losses to the Iowa Wild on Wednesday night in a 3-2 shootout victory. This matchup saw the Admirals snap another extensive powerplay goal drought for the Admirals that helped propel the team to victory.
The first period saw the majority of the action in this contest; a stark contrast from the rest of this season where the first period has been the most boring period for the Admirals. Milwaukee got an early powerplay opportunity at 1:02 when Iowa’s Justin Kloos was called for holding a stick. This seemed to be the start of another weak night for Milwaukee’s powerplay unit as Iowa was able to kill this. They were also able to kill a Matt Read slashing penalty at 8:05.
Play stayed pretty even for the next several minutes until at 13:59 former Milwaukee Admiral Mike Liambas (4) was able to push the puck past Milwaukee goaltender Troy Grosenick off of a rebound on a shot that Hunter Warner (4) ripped from the circle. However, at 14:27 the Admirals were able to cause some confusion in front of the net for Iowa goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen and Tanner Jeannot was able to tap in his third goal of the season. Frederic Allard (12) and Emil Pettersson (6) had the assists on the goal. Up to that point Kahkonen had put up six straight shutout periods against the Milwaukee Admirals.
The Admirals got their third powerplay opportunity at 15:58 when Iowa’s Gerald Mayhew was called for tripping. It was looking as though Iowa was going to kill off another penalty, but in the last seconds of the powerplay Milwaukee defenseman Matt Donovan was able to snipe his eighth goal of the season over the shoulder of Kahkonen to give the Admirals their first lead against Iowa this season. The powerplay goal took place at 17:53 and ended a 14-day drought of powerplay goals for the Admirals. The last powerplay goal for the Admirals took place on November 7 in the 5-3 loss to the Chicago Wolves.
One other notable instance in the first period was at 19:58 Milwaukee’s Tyler Gaudet and Iowa’s Mitch McLain dropped the gloves. Gaudet landed one punch to the back of the head of McLain and he fell to the ice. Both were given five-minute majors. Milwaukee led the first period in shots 13-9.
The second period started with the Wild coming out trying to tie this one up. At 5:48 former Admiral and Nashville Predator Cal O’Reilly was able to net his fourth goal of the season with assists from Sam Anas (8) and Ryan Murphy (5). This was a powerplay goal after a Mathieu Olivier slashing minor. The call was somewhat odd as it came well after the fact from when the supposed incident happened.
The rest of the second period only saw a penalty for Iowa’s Justin Kloos at 12:44 for hooking. Iowa was able to kill off the penalty. Iowa definitely controlled play in the second period, tallying 14 shots on goal to Milwaukee’s 10.
The third period was very uneventful. Milwaukee led shots again with 8 to Iowa’s 6. 60 minutes was not enough to settle this match. The overtime period was also uneventful. Both sides saw their chances to end it with two shots a side. Both goaltenders were solid and able to keep things even.
This was Milwaukee’s second shootout of the season. The last one being against the Chicago Wolves back in October. This was Troy Grosenick’s first shootout appearance of the season. Coming into this game he was 9-7 in his AHL career in the shootout.
Rocco Grimaldi was up first. His shot was easily stopped by Kahkonen. Iowa’s Manis was next. He weaved right and Grosenick’s left leg was able to kick the puck away from the net. Justin Kirkland, who is a shootout wizard, skated wide left and then came center and was able to shoot the puck off the far post and it ricocheted into the net behind Kahkonen. Iowa’s Fitzgerald went straight on towards Grosenick and tried to go high on his glove side. Grosenick easily made the glove save to keep Milwaukee ahead. Matt Donovan got the next shot for Milwaukee who tried to deke around Kahkonen but fumbled control of the puck. Iowa’s Matt Read was their last hope of tying the shootout; this also was his first career AHL shootout. Read deked around Troy Grosenick who was able to block with his stick to secure Milwaukee’s victory.
After last week’s performances against Iowa, Milwaukee Admirals fans were just hoping for anything in the win column. Heck, a lot of us were just happy to see Milwaukee score a goal against Kahkonen. The Admirals did not disappoint. This victory propelled Milwaukee back into first in the Central division after about a week of sitting in the number two spot. Milwaukee has 25 points, Iowa has 24. Chicago and Rockford share third place with 20.
This wasn’t top prospect Eeli Tolvanen’s best performance of the season. He didn’t record a single shot on goal in this contest and was -1.
With Donovan’s powerplay goal the Milwaukee Admirals improved their powerplay percentage to 15.9% from 15.5%. This is still not terrible in compared with the rest of the league. But when you consider the offensive potential that any of the 88 powerplay opportunities the Admirals have had this season, you realize that this is an area that needs drastic improvement. Milwaukee’s penalty kill percentage decreased to 87.2% and is the first time it has dipped below 88%.
Each of the goals in Wednesday’s matchup were scored by Admirals. Mike Liambas played 213 regular season games with the Milwaukee Admirals between 2012 and 2017. Cal O’Reilly played 262 regular season games with the Milwaukee Admirals between 2005 and 2010.