WINNIPEG – For the second straight night an unfavourable second period cost the Manitoba Moose dearly. The Moose surrendered three-second period goals in 5-2 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday at MTS Centre. The Central Division leading Admirals swept the back-to-back games in back-to-back nights to complete the eight game season series. The Moose were 4-3-1 against Milwaukee this season.
“It wasn’t hard to see that we didn’t play our best game.” Andrew MacWilliam said.
“Obviously they have a good squad over there, so if we didn’t play our A-game we knew the outcome was going to be like that.”
Pontus Aberg had two goals and one assist including the game winning goal to lead the Admirals to the victory. Vladislav Kamenev, Felix Girard and Jamie Devane also lit the lamp for Milwaukee.
“They certainly turned up their game.” said Dan DeSalvo. “They’re skilled, but at the same time it might have been our fault too as well, not coming ready to play.”
After sitting out two games with an injury last week, Eric Comrie made his first start since March 26. He stopped 32 of 37 shots. MacWilliam and Darren Kramer scored goals for Manitoba.
“It’s just disappointing.” Kramer said. “What we have in our control is how hard we’re going to work. I think at times that got away from us tonight.”
DeSalvo recorded a pair of assists. With three goals and seven assists in just 13 games, DeSalvo has been a pleasant surprise since being brought in from the East Coast Hockey League. But with seven recently acquired players in the lineup, the first place Admirals were just too tall a task.
“I thought they pushed as hard as they could.” head coach Keith McCambridge said. “That’s a good team and you got to be realistic on whether you’re going to be able to have success or not and I thought we pushed pretty hard.”
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After failing on the first opportunity with the man advantage, the Moose powerplay went back to work midway through the opening period. Brendan Lemieux drove hard to the net but failed to stuff it past Admirals tender Marek Mazanec.
The Moose came close again only minutes later. From behind the net, Kramer made a pretty centring pass. Ben Walker stepped into the one-timer but Mazanec was again in perfect position to make the stop.
With a little over five minutes to go in the first period, MacWilliam teed it up from the blueline. His slap shot bulged the mesh for his first goal of the season. DeSalvo and Austen Brassard picked up the assists on the game’s first goal. The shots were 11 apiece in the opening 20 minute.
Moose newcomer Jansen Harkins took a minor penalty for tripping near the start of the second period. On the ensuing Admirals powerplay, Girard found Kamenev at the top of the circle and he buried the one-timer behind Comrie. Aberg also picked up an assist on Kamenev’s 14th goal of the season.
The Admirals took their first lead with 4:33 remaining in the middle frame. Comrie made the initial stop on Max Gortz, but Girard, parked on the doorstep, swiped in the rebound for his fifth goal of the season. Matt White had the second assist and Milwaukee took a 2-1 lead.
Just a few minutes later Aberg came streaking in down the wing. He picked the top corner on Comrie. Corey Potter had the only assist as the Admirals took a 3-1 lead.
As the final seconds ticked off Walker broke in on a breakaway, but Mazanec made the stop and Milwaukee went to the dressing room with a two goal advantage. The Admirals carried the play in the second period outshooting Manitoba 18-9.
The Moose cut the gap in half with eight minutes to play. Sean Escobedo threw the shot towards the net. It came right to Kramer in front and he tucked it around Mazanec for a pretty goal. DeSalvo also picked up an assist on Kramer’s seventh goal of the campaign. The Moose were down by only one.
But the Admirals immediately re-took the lead. On a 2-on-1 Joe Pendenza sent it across to Devane and he popped it in the wide open net. His sixth goal of the season restored Milwaukee’s two goal advantage. Potter also had a helper.
The Admirals were only getting stronger. Aberg made a nifty deke to outmaneuver Comrie before tucking in the puck for his second goal of the game and 22nd of the season. Kamenev and Frederick Gaudreau had the assists and the Admirals held on for a 5-2 triumph.
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Josh Morrissey and Scott Kosmachuk were among the Moose players sitting out with injuries, while Brenden Kichton and Nic Petan remain up with the Winnipeg Jets.
The Moose have just two home games remaining, Saturday and Sunday against the Rockford IceHogs.
WATCH: Moose players and head coach Keith McCambridge discuss the 5-2 loss to the Admirals