The Milwaukee Admirals got their second-round playoff series off to a better start than the Predators did, beating the Houston Aeros (affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) 3-1. Evidently they did fine despite having top-pair defenseman Teemu Laakso recalled to the Predators a couple days ago, as they were joined last night by Ryan Ellis, playing his first professional game after his Windsor Spitfires were eliminated in the OHL playoffs. Ellis even earned an assist in this one, helping on a Taylor Beck score.
Follow after the jump for the Ads' press release which sums up the action...
The Milwaukee Admirals captured the first game of the best-of-seven West Division Finals series by taking down the Houston Aeros 3-1 Friday night at the Bradley Center to win their fourth game in a row.
The Admirals managed to kill all five Aeros power play opportunities and used a hard-hitting approach to set the tone early and picked up two goals within 41 seconds of each other in the first period to jump out to an early lead.
The Aeros gave up the first goal in all four games of their first round sweep over the Peoria Rivermen, and tonight was no different as the Admirals lit the lamp halfway through the first period. On a pending Aeros penalty, the Ads pulled goalie Jeremy Smith for an extra attacker and it proved successful. Ryan Thang found center Mark Van Guilder on a long pass and Van Guilder controlled the puck, spun, and found a wide open Steve Begin. Begin flew down the slot without an Aero in sight and blasted a slap shot past Houston netminder Matt Hackett for the first tally of the series.
A mere 41 seconds later the Admirals were able to find the net again at 10:30 as rookie forward Taylor Beck wowed the crowd with his second postseason goal. Gabriel Bourque dished the puck to Beck who skated up the right side, flipped the puck towards the net, but it was deflected and came down just in front of Hackett where Beck short-hopped the puck into the Aeros net. Newly signed defensemen Ryan Ellis, playing in his first professional game, also earned an assist on the goal.
For the next 30:00 the Ads tightened up their defense and fended off four penalties in the second period, only allowing six shots and getting some spectacular goaltending from Smith.
The third period got off to a hot start as Thang put the Ads up 3-0 just 32 seconds into the period. With Houston on the attack Begin pick pocketed the Aeros skater and slid the puck to Thang racing towards the blueline. Thang approached the near circle uncontested and unleashed a screaming slap shot that froze Hackett and found the back of the net for his third tally of the playoffs.
With time dwindling down in the third the Aeros found a glimmer of hope as they managed to get one by the stingy Smith. The Aeros leading scorer in the playoffs, Patrick O'Sullivan, controlled the puck at the right point and found Warren Peters flashing to the net where Smith turned away his shot. However, Colton Gillies was there to immediately put away the rebound at 6:53 to make the score 3-1.
Houston pulled Hackett with over 2:00 to go for an extra attacker and the Ads fended off multiple Aeros attacks with the help from Smith, who ended the night with 25 saves to earn his fifth victory in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Ads offense was paced by Begin (1g-1a) and Thang (1g-1a) who each had multiple point nights. The points earned by Thang and Van Guilder (1a) tonight now gives them points in four straight games
The Admirals and Aeros return for game two of the West Division Finals on Sunday at 5:00 pm at the Bradley Center. Fans can purchase tickets by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or logging on to milwaukeeadmirals.com, while fans looking for playoff packages, group tickets or more information should call the Admirals office at (414) 227-0550. Don't forget to follow the Admirals on Twitter (@mkeadmirals) and on Facebook!