Heading into the final month of the season, Milwaukee sputtered against a Texas team clinging for their playoff lives before picking up a desperately-needed two points against Rockford last night.
Now sitting at 32-24-8, Milwaukee has 12 games left to secure third place in the Central Division, giving them a first-round bye in the AHL’s expanded playoff format and a second-round date with the Manitoba Moose. Should they slip to fourth place behind the IceHogs, they would currently play Texas in round one.
- At the NHL trade deadline, defender Alex Biega was acquired from Toronto for future considerations
- Defender Phil Myers was subsequently loaned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies
- Defender Frederic Allard was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for forward Brayden Burke
- Defender Jeremy Davies was recalled to Nashville on Saturday, and defender Jake McLaughlin was subsequently recalled from the ECHL’s Florida Everblades
- On Monday, forward Jachym Kondelik was signed to an amateur tryout contract for the balance of the 2021-22 season
Milwaukee Admirals (5) @ Texas Stars (6)
With newcomers Brayden Burke and Alex Biega in the lineup—and Rocco Grimaldi still out with injury—Milwaukee traveled to Texas last Friday to take on a middling Stars team.
Mitch McLain got the Admirals on the board first with a wrist shot from the far circle. Later in the period, however, Jeremy Davies and Alex Biega let Ty Dellandrea get behind them for a shorthanded breakaway, and he tied things at 1-1. To end the period, Egor Afanasyev intercepted a pass high in the offensive zone and wired his 11th goal of the season past Adam Scheel.
Aside from a Mathieu Olivier goal, Texas dominated the middle frame, putting four goals past Connor Ingram—including a power-play tally from Dellandrea. Ingram stopped just 24 of the 29 shots he faced all night.
In the third period, Brayden Burke set up Tommy Novak for a goal, giving Burke his first point in navy and light blue. Burke, who notched 100+ points in the WHL twice, will hopefully be a catalyst for a team in desperate need of depth scoring. He’s scored three points in his first three games with Milwaukee, and a return to the point-per-game player he was in Tucson (AHL) in 2019-20 would be a huge boost to this club.
Despite a power-play goal from Cole Schenider (who was playing in his first game back from injury) to tie the game late, Milwaukee ultimately fell in a shootout, dropping a critical point in the hunt for the playoffs.
Milwaukee Admirals (2) @ Texas Stars (3)
After a Friday night loss, Milwaukee turned to Devin Cooley between the pipes for Saturday’s rematch with Texas.
The Stars came out largely outskating the Admirals, but the first period ended in a 0-0 tie. The second period was the most eventful with the Stars opening the scoring via a power-play deflection from Curtis McKenzie. Cole Smith answer that goal with a beautiful setup for Jake McLaughlin, who missed the net but subsequently created an easy tap-in chance for Smith. Thanks to Jordan Kawaguchi and Dylan Blujus, the game was tied at two after 40 minutes.
The ice felt mostly tilted in Milwaukee’s favor in period three, but the Admirals’ penchant for taking penalties got in their way again. Milwaukee’s penalty killers allowed two goals on four chances, including the game-winner, with Cooley’s shaky goaltending partially to blame.
It seems obvious that Milwaukee isn’t confident in Cooley’s ability—even before their back-to-back losses against Texas. David Poile has stressed how much the organization is pressing to get Yaroslav Askarov signed and sent to the Admirals next season, and Cooley could be at risk of not even being given a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent.
Milwaukee Admirals (5) @ Rockford IceHogs (3)
With third place in the division on the line, Milwaukee needed their best last night in Rockford. Despite outshooting the IceHogs 14-8 in the first period, the Admirals fell down 2-0 to the IceHogs courtesy of Brett Connolly and Dylan McLaughlin.
Milwaukee responded with one of their best periods of the season. Mathieu Olivier deflected a Marc Del Gaizo shot into the net just seven minutes into the middle frame, and then Del Gaizo potted one of his own via a beautiful setup from Brayden Burke and Alex Biega.
Working on a power-play unit with Jimmy Huntington and Brayden Burke, Graham Knott fed the former with a cross-slot pass towards the end of the period before burying the rebound off Huntington’s shot. With three goals and 12 points in 23 games, Milwaukee has found a third-line center/winger they like in Huntington, and he should earn himself another contract.
McLaughlin tied the game just four minutes into the third (on the power play, of course), but Milwaukee answered with a Cole Smith power-play tally and a Joseph LaBate empty-netter.
The Week Ahead
- Friday, April 1 vs. Chicago Wolves
- Saturday, April 2 @ Chicago Wolves
- Sunday, April 3 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins