Admirals top the Checkers, 6-4
MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Admirals came back in the third period of Friday night’s regular season home finale at the BMO Harris Bradley Center to earn a 6-4 victory against the Charlotte Checkers. With all parties involved in the race for the eighth seed, the Ads now need just three points to clinch a playoff spot after this win and control their own destiny with a game at hand over Rockford.
The big story of this game was the third period comeback by the Ads. The team trailed 4-3 at the start of the period but goals by Joe Piskula, Joshua Shalla, and a shorthanded empty net goal by Zach Hamill paved the way for a thrilling and victorious home finale.
Making his first start of the season for the Checkers tonight was Mike Murphy. This added a slight wild card element to a huge game, and the Admirals made the jump on that mystery element at 10:31 of the first period.
Zach Budish took a firm wrist shot from the left wing that spilled in front of the Checkers netminder. Breaking to the net and finding the loose puck was Van Guilder who chipped in the opener for the Ads and scored his 13th of the season.
The pressure continued off of the opening marker and was capitalized on by Ads forward Cehlin. A shot by Mattias Ekholm dinked off Murphy and in the path of Cehlin who scored his first goal since March 2nd.
After a scrum between Cehlin and Zac Dalpe, the Checkers scored their first goal of the game while the sides were 4-on-4. A pass from Zach Boychuck dropped right in front of the net to Jeremy Welsh, who had enough time to square up with Magnus Hellberg and deposit the puck over his blocker side to make it a 2-1 game.
The Ads had a very successful first period in the shots department. With the urgency to pepper Murphy in his first start of the year the Ads managed to outshoot the Checkers 17-8. There was also a strong emphasis on crashing the net with the amount of rebounds being allowed by Murphy, the cause for the Ads opening two goals.
Making his AHL and Admirals debut tonight was Joonas Rask. The younger brother of Bruins goaltender Tukka, Rask made an instant impact on his debut by scoring his first AHL goal. With traffic in neutral ice, Joshua Shalla flicked on a soft pass for Rask who raced into the Checkers zone with a full head of steam. Rask dangled past a defender and ripped a shot through Murphy’s blocker side to make his debut a memorable one.
After a Winchester roughing call, the Checkers scored a power play goal from Zach Boychuck. The play started from the blueline before Boychuck was able to skate in on goal, and fire a shot past Joe Piskula, Brett Sutter, and Hellberg to narrow the game to 3-2.
The Checkers equalized after a stretch pass by defenseman Rasmus Rissanen reached a breaking Dalpe. The reception of the pass by Dalpe was met by a delay and wrist shot that fooled an exposed Hellberg to knot the contest up 3-3.
The Checkers run continued after a at 18:17 when they took their first lead of the night. A blast from the blue line by Justin Krueger hit Hellberg in the chest and the puck fell toward Matt Marquardt. The puck was quickly backhanded past a sprawling goalie and the Checkers went ahead 4-3.
The Ads tied the game up at the 11:38 mark of the third after d-man Joe Piskula scored his first goal in an Admirals uniform. Ryan Ellis kept the puck from leaving the offensive zone, took a slap shot off the end boards which was corralled by Juuso Puustinen who sent the puck out to Piskula on the point. His slap shot blistered traffic and Murphy to equalize for the Ads.
Just moments later, Joshua Shalla scored off of extensive offensive pressure produced off of the equalizing goal. A hard drive to the net by Rask resulted in a great kick save from Murphy. However, the puck was kicked towards Shalla who managed to beat Murphy on the glove hand. The Ads reclaimed a one goal lead, 5-4.
A holding penalty by Ekholm with 1:45 left in regulation nearly resulted in a penalty shot for the Checkers. Charlotte, on the PP and with the net empty with an extra attacker on, were set to throw everything but the kitchen sink to send this game to OT. With 0:38.8 left on the clock, Zach Hamill closed out the big PK for the Ads by scoring a shorthanded empty net goal to send this game to a 6-4 final.
The Ads will finish off their regular season with back-to-back games on the road against the Chicago Wolves (Saturday, 7:00pm) and Peoria Rivermen (Sunday, 5:05pm). The Ads can officially eliminate the Wolves with a win tomorrow and, with a win and Rockford loss, could clinch a playoff spot tomorrow night. If both the Ads and Rockford win tomorrow, the Ads will need only one point to set up an AHL calder Cup playoff birth.