MILWAUKEE – Ads goaltender Magnus Hellberg turned away all 30 shots he faced, while Brad Winchester and Mattias Ekholm contributed a goal each in the 2-0 win over Peoria Wednesday night.
Rookie forward Austin Watson ripped a wrister from the top of the slot to give Milwaukee the edge midway through the first period, or so I thought. I didn’t realize it, but there was discussion immediately following the goal as to if it was Watson’s shot or a tip in by Brad Winchester that lit the lamp. After the completion of the game, the goal was switched from Watson to Winchester, which was later confirmed by Winchester in the locker room.
A couple of interviews ago (back on March 3rd), I asked coach Evason why he split up the Watson-Bang-Puustinen line. When Bang went down with an injury, lines got switched around and the three of them never really were put back together. I’d be lying if I didn’t smirk when i saw the starting line up. It was armchair quarterbacking at its finest.
I’ll be waiting by the phone for the call up from press row to assistant coach. If Oklahoma City can have two assistant coaches, so can Milwaukee. Just call me Rocky Thompson. That line is lucky, kind of like the kid from Angels in the Outfield.
Moving right along. Puustinen. Wow. Kid was getting the looks tonight. It took 22 minutes for the whistle to blow, but when it did it was in favor of the Admirals. Puustinen put three quality back-to-back shots on Peoria goaltender Mike McKenna even with traffic down low. In that 10 seconds alone McKenna earned his paycheck for the week. The good part? The Admirals looked stunning on that first power-play even though they didn’t light the lamp.
“We thought our power-play, especially the first one, gained us momentum. We had a ton of opportunities. Our power-plays been good so we want to be on that power-play for two minutes, and give ourselves the opportunity to score goals.”
Which leads to the bad news… The next two power-plays they had they immediately negated with penalties of their own. Michael Latta took a boarding call (which Evason was not pleased about) during the teams second man-advantage, and Brad Winchester took a high-sticking call to negate the third.
Mattias Ekholm put on a hard hat and dug the puck out from the far boards on a 4-on-4 during the second period, which he turned into Milwaukee’s second goal of the game. He sent a snap shot in on McKenna from the top of the far circle for his 6th of the season.
The game marked the third of shutout of the season for the 21-year old Uppsala, Sweden native Hellberg, who just happens to be the leagues reigning CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month. The Admirals continue their four-game home stand Saturday night when they face the Grand Rapids Griffins for the third time this month. Milwaukee lost the previous two March contests, both by a score of 5-1.
Also worth noting, the Admirals didn’t have a single healthy scratch from tonight’s game. With Chris Mueller and Victor Bartley called up to Nashville, the team has every healthy player on the ice. Had one player gone down, we may have had to start going section to section to see if any fans had a pair of skates handy.