After a couple of gutsy performances against division-leading Chicago last time out, Milwaukee had a similarly tall task last week in traveling to Manitoba to face the second-place Moose.
The Admirals finished the week at 1-1-1 and now sit third in the Central Division with a 25-20-5 record and a 0.550 points percentage. 7-2-1 in their last ten, Milwaukee is still rolling and will need to keep that up to build more separation between them and fourth-place Rockford.
- With Connor Ingram re-entering the lineup, goalie Tomas Vomacka was reassigned to ECHL Florida last Friday
- Forward Cole Smith was returned to Milwaukee from Nashville on Saturday
- On Monday, Nashville recalled forward Matt Luff before heading to Florida last night
- Connor Ingram leads the AHL in appearances with 36, making some wonder if his workload is too much; only two other goalies—Justus Annunen and Calvin Pickard—have appeared in more than 30 games
Milwaukee Admirals (1) vs. Rockford IceHogs (4)
With a four-game win streak under their belts, Milwaukee hosted a Rockford team last Wednesday that’s chasing them closely in the Central Division standings. Given that urgency, the Admirals came out with the worst possible start to the game, including several unforced turnovers, 15 shots against, and a shorthanded goal allowed.
Milwaukee improved in the second frame, and Graham Knott tied things up early with a laser wrist shot right off of an offensive zone draw. Rockford, however, persisted and scored two more goals in quick succession to end the period with a 3-1 lead.
The Admirals let their penalty problems resurface and the penalty killers allowed two goals on four chances in front of an uncharacteristically shaky Connor Ingram, who faced 36 shots in total.
Milwaukee Admirals (3) @ Manitoba Moose (4)
If Wednesday’s start was bad, Saturday’s was far worse. Milwaukee escaped the first period down just 1-0, but they were outshot 22-3, failing to register their first shot on net until there were a few minutes remaining in the opening frame. Cole Maier added Manitoba’s second goal in a far more even middle period.
In period three, the Admirals got to work with Cole Schneider cleaning up a rebound on the power play to open their scoring. Schneider and Cody Glass then executed a clean two-against-zero break to tie things up. The latter has been playing a quiet but confident game lately; he’s winning puck battles in the defensive zone, pushing transition in the neutral zone, and finding the scoresheet consistently with four goals and 13 points in his last ten games. 22 of his 39 points this season were primary ones scored at even strength.
The Admrials’ second line of Novak, Smith, and Mismash struggled overall, but Novak was a bright spot and continued to catalyze play at five-on-five. He recorded a 58.3% Corsi, three shot attempts, three primary shot assists, and converted at a 75.0% rate on his offensive zone entries. On top of that, he set up Jeremy Davies in the slot for the game’s leading goal on Saturday.
Unfortunately, Manitoba converted on a power-play chance late in the third period, and Connor Ingram was beaten through the five-hole by Jeff Malott off of a Davies’ turnover in overtime.
Milwaukee Admirals (4) @ Manitoba Moose (2)
Hoping to make up ground on the second-place Moose, Milwaukee came out slowly once again, getting outshot 15-6 in the first period. But the score was one-to-one thanks to a power-play goal from Rocco Grimaldi—his 22nd of the season.
Leon Gawanke notched the Moose’s second power-play marker of the day just 30 seconds into the second period, but Grimaldi answered again, 18 minutes later, getting behind the Manitoba defense thanks to a great assist from Cody Glass.
As the game progressed, Milwaukee improved their neutral-zone play in particular. Even though they’re not the fastest team in the AHL, the Admirals can use space and time in the neutral zone well to break their opponents’ habits and find offensive seams when playing their best game. Speaking of, Milwaukee’s third line took a Manitoba turnover into the go-ahead goal from Mitch McLain early in period three.
Cole Schneider added an empty-net goal, and Connor Ingram turned aside 30 of 32 shots to get Milwaukee back in the win column.
The Week Ahead
- Wednesday, February 23 @ Manitoba Moose
- Saturday, February 26 vs. Colorado Eagles
- Sunday, February 27 vs. Colorado Eagles