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Karl Taylor on late hit to Joakim Kemell: “We’re never going to allow those things to occur”

Karl Taylor on late hit to Joakim Kemell: “We’re never going to allow those things to occur”

With the Milwaukee Admirals leading the Coachella Valley Firebirds 5-2 late in Game 4, and on the verge of evening up the AHL’s Western Conference Finals at two games apiece, Joakim Kemell followed the puck into the corner, looking to occupy the puck while the last seconds ticked away.

In the process, Kemell ended up getting cross-checked up high by Firebirds’ defenseman Ryker Evans, leading to a near all-out melee on the ice.

Leading the way, stepping in to defend his young Finnish teammate, was former 1st round pick Michael McCarron, who barreled into the corner, headed straight for Evans and Cameron Hughes. McCarron piled on Evans, then Hughes piled on McCarron, and then all bets were off. Though the clock had run out and the game was over, McCarron and the rest of the Admirals were not finished defending Joakim Kemell, a budding offensive star who leads the Admirals with eight goals in the playoffs.

When asked about that moment after the game, and the momentum-shifting 5-2 win by his squad, head coach Karl Taylor explained the nature of what’s required of his players when big moments arise.

“We’ve talked about it all year,” Taylor said. “There’s always moments in the game where you have a chance to be a great teammate. And some of our guys really stepped up tonight in that area and that’s really important for our team.”

Taylor also specifically mentioned McCarron’s actions as important to defending the team’s honor on the ice.

“A hard hit or standing up for a teammate. [Michael] McCarron at the end of the game, no problem with him trying to protect an 18-year-old kid who got cross-checked in the face. That’s part of McCarron’s job and he did his best to do that with no time on the clock. We’re never going to allow those things to occur, that’s not going to happen here.”

It was a tumultuous ending to a game where the Admirals dominated at both ends of the ice. Key players in the series for the Admirals continued to shine, including starting goalie Devin Cooley, who made 30 saves in his second consecutive playoff start, and Philip Tomasino, who finished with two points. The Admirals special teams were excellent, finishing with two power play goals, one shorthanded goal, and went a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

Karl Taylor made sure to give credit to his assistant coach on preparing the penalty kill to deal with a dangerous Coachella Valley power play.

“The penalty kill, Scott Ford runs that unit for me, did an outstanding job tonight,” Taylor said. “I tip my hat to the guys on the ice obviously, but Ford did a really good job too.”

The funny business at the end of the game seemed to stem from a number of moments earlier in the game, and also from the way Milwaukee was storming through the Coachella Valley defense all night. But it also could have been the Firebirds’ way of trying to rip the momentum back from the Admirals at the last minute.

“I’m not going to worry about the [Firebirds] in that area of the game,” Taylor said, when asked about his team’s ability to get under the Firebirds’ skin. “Obviously we’d love to get them off their game. They’re trying to do the same thing to us, right? That’s how the game’s played.”

The Admirals take on the Firebirds in Game 5 on Saturday night at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

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