GAME 3 Capper

Milwaukee, Wis. - Marc Del Gaizo and Fedor Svechkov scored, but the Milwaukee Admirals were unable to overcome an early four-goal rally from the Coachella Valley Firebirds and ultimately dropped Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals by a 5-2 decision.

“It just seemed like we couldn't get out of our own way in the first period,” Admirals Head Coach Karl Taylor said. "And that's what happens. You get exposed at this time of the year and it’s hard, but you’ve got to stay on it. That team doesn't need a lot of chances to score and they're showing that. So for us, there were some good things as the game went on. We didn't go away, we kept trying and kept pushing. I liked how the guys stayed together, trying to come back into the game. But close is not very good at this time of the year.”

The result sees the Nashville Predators’ American Hockey League affiliate pushed to the brink of elimination in their best-of-seven series against Coachella, with a do-or-die Game 4 set for UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Thursday.

“We’ve got to just stick with it,” Del Gaizo said. “It's all about us in the room and the leadership. We have really good leadership and it's going to be a really gutsy effort here on out. And the leaders are going to have to drag everyone into the fight. We’re going to go out swinging, for sure.”


A Shaky Start

Though they mounted a gutsy comeback effort in the second and third periods, an unanswered four goals scored by the visitors within the game’s first 22 minutes - and on their first 12 shots - proved too much to overcome for the Admirals.

“We go out first shift and they got a goal and we weren't able to stop the bleeding and didn't give our goaltender a chance there,” Del Gaizo said. “[Troy Grosenick] has been unbelievable for us all playoffs and all season and we just couldn't give him a chance tonight.”

“They scored four goals on 12 shots, that's not a reflection of our goal at all,” Taylor said. “[We gave Coachella] two 2-on-1s and Grade-A opportunities that we can't give up against a veteran, savvy team that can really make you pay. There was lots of good in the game, but we weren't close enough. You can’t put yourself behind the eight ball that early in the game at this time of year, that’s for sure.”

Prospect Goals

Despite the result, Tuesday evening saw three Predators prospects crack the scoresheet for Milwaukee.

Crashing the net behind a breaking Wade Allison and collecting a last-second dish in front of the crease, Del Gaizo scored his fourth of the postseason to get the home team on the board in the second period. Forward Reid Schaefer picked up his second assist of the postseason, chipping the puck ahead to Allison to kickstart the play.

Forward Fedor Svechkov would bring the Admirals back within two just eight minutes later, collecting a pass from Ozzy Wiesblatt above the circle and firing a laser past Coachella netminder Chris Driedger for his fourth goal of the postseason.

“Marc’s got a lot of will in him and a lot of try,” Taylor said. “He comes from a great family, just good people, and his care factor is through the roof. He won a national championship in college for a reason, because he's a winner. And Svechkov through the last five or six games has been our best forward and might be our best player on the ice. He looks like he's in the wrong league out there. He's playing really well. He's holding onto pucks, he's making plays. And that's what we need. We need someone to catch a puck like that and rip it in the net. And we haven't been able to do that enough in this series. That was a really good, quality scoring chance and Svech’s game has really grown in the last five games. You can see something coming there where he's setting himself up for down the road.”

Familiar Territory

Now facing elimination for the third time in the postseason, the Admirals find themselves treading over familiar ground as they look to Game 4 on Thursday. 

With a 4-0 record in elimination games this postseason, the Admirals know they have what it takes to keep their season alive - it’s now simply a matter of focusing on the immediate task at hand.

“I think when you're one game away from elimination, you're desperate and you're just trying to fight another day, and that's what our mentality has to be,” Del Gaizo said. “We have to focus on the next game, watch the tape, learn from this one and just be able to fight another day. Our backs are against the wall now and we’ve just got to win the next game.”

“They've handled a lot of adversity through the season and through playoffs,” Taylor said. “We're not going to be an easy out. And you saw it today. [Coachella] is up 4-0, and do they let off the gas a little bit? Probably. That's a hard situation for the other team when they're in that situation, but our group kept trying to claw our way back in. So I appreciate the effort and what the guys did. The last game is a hard one to win, but I believe we're going to play our best and try our best to extend the series and give ourselves a chance to push it to Game 5.”


Puck drop for Game 4 is set for 7 p.m. CT at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, with the game available to stream with a subscription to AHLTV.