Isaac Ratcliffe recorded four points and goalie Yaroslav Askarov stopped 43 shots to lead the Milwaukee Admirals to a 6-3 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday at Van Andel Arena.
Milwaukee has won six straight games. The win clinched a playoff spot in the 2022-23 Calder Cup Playoffs for the Admirals. It is the 17th time the Ads have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs since the team joined the American Hockey League (AHL) in the 2001-02 season. Overall, it’s the 38th time Milwaukee has qualified for postseason play since becoming a professional organization in the old International Hockey League in the 1977-78 season.
The Admirals improved to 15-5-2-0 since Feb. 1, a winning percentage of .727. For the first time in franchise history the Ads have won five straight on a single road trip.
Milwaukee jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period. The first goal came while the Admirals were on a power play. Zach Sanford rimmed the puck from the left point around the Griffins net to the right circle. John Leonard carried it from the wall toward the net and flipped the puck over the glove of Grand Rapids goalie John Lethemon for the tally at 3:42. It was Leonard’s 14th goal of the season and his sixth on the power play. Isaac Ratcliffe and Sanford recorded the assists.
The Ads made it 2-0 at 9:38. Ratcliffe tapped a pass from the left circle to Tim Schaller near the goal line. Schaller took a couple strides to the net and lobbed a backhander inside the opposite post for his eighth goal of the season and his 150th AHL point.
Defenseman Jordan Gross used a Schaller screen of Lethemon to give Milwaukee a 3-0 lead at 16:50 of the first frame. Gross snapped a high shot from the right point past the Griffins netminder for his ninth goal of the year.
Grand Rapids got on the board with 1:16 remaining in the first period as they packed a lot of bodies in front of goalie Askarov. Seth Barton’s snap shot from the right circle found the back of the cage.
Ratcliffe gave the Admirals a 4-1 lead with a power play goal at 5:32 of the second period. Jordan Gross’ shot from the point bounced off Ratcliffe in the slot straight up into the air. It dropped into the blue paint of Lethemon’s crease and rolled into the net. The goal was Ratcliffe’s second with Milwaukee and fourth in the AHL this season.
Ratcliffe scored again at 7:04 of the second period when he pulled a puck out of a pile in front of Lethemon, moved to his right and roofed a backhander into the cage. That signaled the end of the night for Lehtemon who was replaced by Dylan St. Cyr.
The Griffins scored a pair of goals just 1:10 apart in the third period to make the game tense for the Admirals. Drew Worrad scored at 5:37 after a puck bounced off a defender’s skate. Danny O’Regan scored a power play goal at 6:47 to make the score 5-3.
Admirals forward Anthony Angello scored into an empty net at 17:08 of the third period to close the scoring.
Askarov stopped 43 shots to win his fourth straight decision.
The Admirals return home Sat., Apr. 1 to play host to Laval at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.