With six regular-season games to play, the playoffs are officially in sight for the Milwaukee Admirals. The Preds’ farm team clinched their spot in the postseason last week despite going 1-2-0 in their last three games.
The Admirals are still relying on a patchwork roster but have stayed competitive in what has become a two-horse race for the Central Division title. Milwaukee currently sits in second place, a point behind the Texas Stars, who also have six games left to play. Regardless of whether they finish first or second, the Admirals will receive a first-round bye in the AHL’s expanded playoff field.
- Last Thursday, Milwaukee recalled forward Todd Burgess from ECHL Norfolk
- Over the past week, Kevin Gravel (D), Spencer Stastney (D), and Michael McCarron (F) have been recalled to Nashville while Jordan Gross (D) was reassigned to Milwaukee
- On Sunday, Milwaukee signed goaltender Gustavs Davis Grigals to an amateur tryout (ATO) for the rest of the season; Grigals has also signed a one-year AHL deal for next year
- Markus Nurmi (F) has reportedly signed a three-year deal with TPS of the Finnish Liiga beginning next season; Nurmi has 24 points in 28 games this season
Milwaukee Admirals (6) @ Grand Rapids Griffins (3)
On Friday, Milwaukee traveled to Michigan to begin their weekend, facing off against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Admirals got off to a quick start with John Leonard striking on the power play three minutes into the contest. Minutes later, after sustained pressure from the Isaac Ratcliffe-Tim Schaller-Austin Rueschhoff line, Schaller backhanded a second goal past John Lethemon to double Milwaukee’s lead.
Jordan Gross then made it 3-0 before the Griffins got one back before the end of the first period.
In the middle frame, the aforementioned third line continued their hot night as Isaac Ratcliffe added two more goals—one on the power play and one at even strength. That trio combined for three goals and seven points against the Griffins in what was the start of a strong weekend for all three.
As the Admirals chased Lethemon from his crease, Yaroslav Askarov was busy too, stopping 43 of the 46 shots he faced. Converting on just one of their five power-play chances, Grand Rapids made things interesting with two third-period goals. But, Anthony Angello’s empty-net goal with three minutes remaining sealed the victory and a postseason appearance for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Admirals (4) vs. Laval Rocket (6)
In the second game of their three-in-three, the Admirals welcomed the Laval Rocket to town in a penalty-filled affair.
Halfway through the first period, Cole Schneider danced through the Rocket’s defense before dishing a cross-ice pass to Anthony Angello, who buried his second of three goals this weekend. A few minutes later, former Pred Gabriel Bourque tied the game on a power play before Tommy Apap retook the lead for Milwaukee as the opening frame winded down.
In the middle frame, Laval tied the game with another power-play goal, delivering an uncharacteristically mediocre night for the Admirals’ penalty killers. Around a minute later, Joakim Kemell crashed the net on a breakaway, and Navrin Mutter slammed home the rebound for his first AHL goal. But the second period was highlighted by trips to the penalty box and a game misconduct for Isaac Ratcliffe.
Despite his expulsion, Ratcliffe’s line was really solid through the weekend’s first two games. Ratcliffe, Schaller, and Rueschhoff combined for seven shot attempts and six primary shot assists. The trio recorded a 54.2%, 54.5%, and 55.6% Corsi at even strength, respectively, and Ratcliffe was especially strong in transition; he had a 50.0% zone exit success rate and a 62.5% zone entry success rate. Since coming to Milwaukee, Ratcliffe has been excellent, recording three goals and 13 points in 15 games, and in three games I’ve tracked, he’s posted a 58.2% Corsi rating at even strength.
Regardless of some strong play from Milwaukee’s third line, Laval jumped on the Admirals early in the third period, taking a two-goal lead before the halfway mark (thanks in part to Anthony Richard). Tye Felhaber’s late power-play goal was futile as Devin Cooley allowed five goals on 35 shots and Milwaukee lost 6-4.
Milwaukee Admirals (2) @ Chicago Wolves (5)
To finish off the weekend, Milwaukee traveled to Chicago, and Yaroslav Askarov was back between the pipes. The Wolves dominated a scoreless first period, peppering the Russian netminder with 13 shots.
Early in period two, Nathan Sucese shoveled a puck past Askarov, but Anthony Angello responded a few minutes later after a great individual effort from Joakim Kemell. Milwaukee’s penalty killers were back at their best, going a perfect six-for-six on the night. But, Chicago was deadly at even strength.
In period three, Askarov stumbled trying to slide across his crease, giving Tuukka Tieksola an empty net for the go-ahead goal. The Wolves then scored twice more before Felhaber could respond with a shorthanded goal, adding to his impressive tryout with Milwaukee (six goals and nine points in 15 games). The Admirals ultimately fell 5-2, surrendering 37 shots on goal and ending their weekend on a deflating note; Yaroslav Askarov has now faced the third-most shots in the AHL this season (1329).
The Week Ahead
- Wednesday, April 5 vs. Chicago Wolves
- Friday, April 7 vs. Rockford IceHogs
- Saturday, April 8 @ Rockford IceHogs