Two guys playing in their first games for Milwaukee made all the difference in a 5-3 Admiral victory over Salt Lake Friday night before 3,410 at the Salt Palace.
Garry Valk, a 22-year-old rookie out of North Dakota, scored a hat trick in his first professional game, while goalie Steve Weeks, a 32-year-old NHL veteran, held off a furious flurry by Salt Lake in the final period to preserve the victory in his first minor league game in five years.It was the first win of the year for Milwaukee, which had lost two home games last weekend. "When you're trying to get your first victory, you'll take anything," said Milwaukee Coach Mike Murphy.
Eagles Coach Bobby Francis was happy with his team's 3rd period play when they didn't score any goals, but not so happy with the first two periods when the Eagles fell behind 4-3.
"We were very tentative, we didn't play desperate like we did in the third period," said Francis. "We have to play desperate to be successful. It takes 60 minutes of hockey."
Milwaukee scored early on the Eagles, who had held their opponents scoreless in seven of nine previous periods played this year. Valk knocked in a rebound off a shot by Jack Capuano at the 7:42 mark against rookie goalie Warren Sharples, who had a couple of fine outings in San Diego last week. Goalie Wayne Cowley, who shut out San Diego Wednesday, sat this one out.
Salt Lake tied it 31 seconds later when Paul Kruse scored from six feet out on the right angle off an assist by Bryan Deasley.
Then the Eagles took their only lead of the day when Marc Bureau was in the right place for a rebound off a Rich Chernomaz try. Valk got the equalizer for Milwaukee two minutes later with a straight-in shot from 15 feet out.
The three goals in the second period came in a bunch. First Todd Hawkins scored off a deflection at the 5:12 mark, followed by another Valk goal at the 6:23 mark. For Valk, who sat out the past month with a knee injury, getting a hat trick in his first pro game was surprising, to the say the least.
"I had just one (hat trick) in three years of college," he said. "This hasn't even sunk in yet. Some days they go in the net and some days they don't."
After Valk's third goal, Salt Lake responded just 18 seconds later as Todd Harkins scored off an assist by Kevan Melrose.
The third period belonged to Weeks, who stopped 15 shots (32 for the night) and all the boxing fans in attendance. At the 17:50 mark, several fights broke out sending four players to the locker room early and a couple more to the penalty box.
One bout involved Salt Lake's Kerry Clark, who has quickly gained a reputation as the Eagles' enforcer after coming from Phoenix. He squared off with Steve Veilleux and got in several good licks. Decision: Clark.
Another invloved the Admirals' Hawkins and the Eagles' rookie defenseman Mark Osiecki. Hawkins really pounded Osiecki before being pulled off. Decision: Hawkins.
The other skirmish was between the Eagles' Chernomaz and the Admirals' Patrice Lefebvre who battled to a draw.
Clark, Veillux, Hawkins and Osiecki all received roughing, major fighting and game misconduct penalties. The other two received major fighting penalties only.
Salt Lake was on the attack the rest of the period, but Weeks stopped everything. "Weeks came up large for them when they needed it," said Francis.
Milwaukee added an empty-net goal in the final minute by Murano.
The two teams go at it again tonight in the Salt Palace at 7 p.m. It'll be interesting to see if tempers have cooled by then.