It has been an eventful last few games for the Milwaukee Admirals. From Rich Clune making a WWE style post-game on ice interview claiming that the Chicago Wolves were a soft hockey team. To Magnus Hellberg racing from one end of the ice to the other for a goalie fight. All the way up until their last game on Sunday that culminated in a shootout loss. In those three games they only won once. And, as was the case last night for the Nashville Predators, things didn’t seem to go to plan in the state of North Carolina.
Let’s start with the Admirals lone win of the last week which took place one week ago. It was a with the Chicago Wolves that saw the Ads get the better of their Amtrak Rivals 4-1. The offense was on point and Marek Mazanec was nearly perfect in net. It was the Czech’s first win in over a month after he started the season with five-successive wins. The goal scorers were Pontus Åberg, Miikka Salomäki, Austin Watson, and the aforementioned Clune.
While Clune scoring a goal from a breakaway is certainly a sight worth seeing. It was the sounds he was making after the game that were perhaps even more eyebrow raising. He was selected as the first star in the game and took part in a post-game interview on the ice. He called out the Wolves for being a soft hockey team and continued on to say the following comments.
“I would be nice to them if they just shut their mouths and took what was coming to them,” said Clune in regards to the Chicago Wolves. “But, they seemed to like to throw personal comments out toward me. None of them are really tough enough to really deal with me in a fight. They just don’t match up with us at all, toughness and speed. I love running them over every night.”
The next game between the Admirals and Wolves will not be until the night of Boxing Day. I guarantee that those comments made will take an already high-intensity game environment between those two rivals and amplify it. The names and numbers are surely already written down on both sides of the ice.
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Then came one of the rare road trips for the Admirals on the East Coast. They had a weekend two-in-two against the Carolina Hurricans affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers. The two teams met on the Admirals season opener and that was a game they took rather convincingly, 6-3. Once again, the Admirals played outstandingly well against the Checkers. The difference this go round was that the Checkers were equal to the challenge.
The first game of the two-in-two is the one that had everyone buzzing. After all, it isn’t every day you see a goalie fight. The game alone was about as crazy and entertaining a game as I have watched the Admirals take part in, period. They may have lost 5-4, but the Admirals overcame deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 to keep things tight until the dying seconds of regulation. If the goal scoring wasn’t madness enough then what transpired in the third period was.
Rasmus Rissanen‘s attempt to stand up Clune’s offensive zone entry was botched to the point of a knee-on-knee collision at the red line in neutral ice. Rissanen was playing the right wing wall. Clune ducked out from the wall and swooped towards the open ice on his left before getting upended and losing his helmet as he tumbled down. Rissanen, already a marked man for his bullying cross-checks throughout the game to Colton Sissons and many more, was instantly targeted by Mike Liambas. The Checkers tried to protect their defenseman. But, from that moment, it became chaos.
John Muse, the Checkers netminder, went from being a spectator to having the mess in front of him go to his net. Rather than do what most goalies do in this situation, which is skate to a corner and let the skaters deal with it, Muse went to grab Liambas off of Rissanen. This forced Admirals goaltender Hellberg from his net to center ice. Muse was bowled over as he attempted to get Liambas off Rissanen. Once he got up he tried to get involved again. The numbers were in the Checkers favor. So, Hellberg dropped his mask, his glove, his blocker, and made the race for Muse.
Hellberg ripped Muse off of Liambas and proceeded to unmask and land about two clean shots on his netminding counter-part before slamming him down on the ice. When the dust settled, and the referee delay to do some maths was completed, 82 penalty minutes came from the line brawl between the Admirals and Checkers. You can watch the entire altercation on Hockey Fights Video.
You’d have expected the encore to be far more subdued as a result of emotions calming down and officials clamping down chippy play the moment it occurred. Truth be told, there wasn’t much of either on the follow-up game that took place less than 24 hours after the Saturday night melee. The game ended in an Admirals shootout loss of 3-2.
Former-Admiral goaltender Drew MacIntyre was the story of the Sunday game. He stopped 39/41 shots on goal and all three attempts by the Admirals in the shootout. MacIntyre was nearly unstoppable for the Toronto Marlies against the Admirals in last season’s playoffs that saw him sweep his former team. It felt like a continuation of just that. It took an odd man rush for Triston Grant to score and the lightning fast passing of the Admirals power-play for Sissons to beat him.
These weren’t bad performances by the Admirals in Charlotte. The Checkers just had that little bit more. Saturday night’s game was head over heals insane. Sunday, the team just came up against a hot goaltender. Nothing the Admirals should fester about for too long. And they look to rebound back into the win column against the top team in their division, the Rockford IceHogs, on Thursday. In addition, they have another Saturday-Sunday set with the Oklahoma City Barons and Grand Rapids Griffins coming to town.
Milwaukee will be gaining the services of Patrick Cehlin for the first time all season. The Swede missed the start of the 2014-15 hockey season as he recovered from off-season hip surgery. He played his first games of the season with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL where he logged three games and scored a goal in his last outing before being reassigned. He should be on the ice in the Admirals game against the IceHogs on Thursday.