Photo by Greg Hamil
The 2011-2012 Milwaukee Admirals were barely able to squeeze into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season with a win against the Charlotte Checkers. One main reason things were so tight is because they were dominated all season by the Rockford IceHogs. Last season, Rockford held a 10-1-0-1 mark against Milwaukee, and picked up 21 out of a possible 24 points against the Admirals. Tonight, the Admirals traveled to Rockford for the first of 12 contests vs Rockford this season hoping for a different outcome.
The Admirals got off to a quick start as Chris Mueller started the scoring just 1:54 into the game. Taylor Beck and Daniel Bang came in on a 2 on 1 break. Beck tried to get a pass across the ice to Bang, and the pass was deflected back towards the slot where a crashing Mueller found it between the circles and buried it for a 1-0 lead. However, just like last night, the lead after the first goal didn't last long. Rockford was able to tie the game less than 7 minutes later. Center Peter Leblanc moved a pass up ice to Brandon Pirri who stopped at the top of the circle and quickly delivered a wrist shot that beat Jeremy Smith over the glove. Pirri's 6th of the year tied the game at 1 and that was the score after one period of play.
As of late, it seems Milwaukee may have found it's scoring touch. After a 7 goal output last night, Milwaukee picked up 3 more in the 2nd period tonight. Admirals captain Mike Moore has been an unlikely source of offensive firepower. Coming into this season, Moore's highest goal scoring output for a season has been 5 goals. In the last 4 games, he has 4 goals, including two in the 2nd period tonight. After a penalty to Rob Flick for cross checking, Michael Latta fed a pass to Patrick Cehlin, who found an open Moore who was able to beat Rockford goalie Alex Richards with a wrist shot over the glove to give the Admirals a 2-1 lead. A few minutes later, the Admirals were able to extend the lead on another goal by Moore, just as a power play ended. Victor Bartley found Cehlin this time, and Cehlin tried to shoot this time. The puck deflected off the body of a diving defenseman, and Moore was able to fire a quick back hander from the right circle between the legs of Richards. Only 36 seconds later, the lead was extended to 4-1 as Kevin Henderson found rookie Austin Watson with a pass who skated around a sliding Adam Clendening and was able to fire a wrister past Richards. Rockford was able to cut the lead to 2 later in the 2nd period on a goal by Jeremy Morin, but that was all the scoring for the night. The Admirals were able to kill off a 4 minute high sticking penalty to Latta the carried over from the end of the 2nd period, and that was the last excitement of the night. Smith finished with 24 saves on the night for his 4th win of the season. Milwaukee was able to win back to back games for the first time on the young season and will take the week off before heading to Oklahoma City next weekend.