The 2015 portion of the calendar started for the Milwaukee Admirals this past weekend with two games and Tuesday with two headline stories. Defeat. Suspension. Victory. All Star selection. Even in the world of the bullet point the Ads have been up down. At least things are finally starting to trend upwards.
This past Friday the Admirals played their first road game of the season against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The two sides are battling for third place in the Midwest Division. Entering the game they were trending in different directions: Ads down, Griffins up.
The result of the game was a 4-2 loss for the Admirals despite them leading with over four minutes remaining. Colton Sissons scored to give the Ads the early lead on his ninth goal of the season but Anthony Mantha‘s howitzer leveled things up at 1-1. Mark Van Guilder‘s tally in the third period held for awhile but the backbreaker came from a quickfire double to put the Ads down and out. Teemu Pulkkinen scored a goal for the seventh straight game to equalize and then, less than a minute later, Landon Ferraro scored the game-winner off a breakaway.
If that wasn’t bad enough the news that would come Tuesday afternoon from the AHL was. In the game, Mike Liambas was given a match penalty for an illegal check to the head of forward Louis-Marc Aubry. Liambas was suspended for three games by the AHL. He had sat out the follow up game to serve an automatic one game suspension by the league. He now only has to serve two more games to fulfill his suspension. Aubrey didn’t return to the game following the hit by Liambas. You can watch the full incident in the Griffins video highlights of Friday night’s game.
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With all the bad results there had been many bright spots to the Admirals recent struggles. Both goaltenders, Marek Mazanec and Magnus Hellberg, have been weathering much of the storm for the team and doing solid work. The offense showed signs of life and a capacity to score goals in different ways other than making skilled and flashy one-on-one plays. The lone thing that was missing seemed to be the ability to wire together a complete sixty-minute game.
In the follow up to their road loss, their Saturday night effort against the Hamilton Bulldogs saw a simplified game and a return to the win column. The Ads won 4-1 and were even able to score their first home power-play goal since late November.
The Ads had gone thirty-two consecutive power-play chances at home without a goal. Joe Pendenza managed to end that drought by crashing the net and getting a rebound for his sixth goal of the season. Simply out-working and throwing pucks to the net was the entire story to this game. The Admirals outshot the Bulldogs 31-16 in the game. Viktor Arvidsson, Frédérick Gaudreau, and Zach Budish scored to send them heading towards a collision course with the division leading Rockford IceHogs on a major high note.
Speaking of high notes, the good vibes did come back for the Admirals following the suspension news for Liambas. The 2015 AHL All Star Classic roster was revealed and the Ads will have Swedish netminder Hellberg traveling out to Utica, New York at the end of January as their representative. The AHL All Star Classic takes place from January 25-26.
Milwaukee seems to be regaining their identity after some rotten form in December. If the Admirals can get through their upcoming three games in three days set it will do them a world of good. They get a back-to-back against the IceHogs: first in Milwaukee, then in Rockford. The last of the three-in-three will see the Charlotte Checkers return to Milwaukee for the first time since the season opener.