Steve Guenette said he had something to prove, taking the blame for the goal Wednesday night that let the Milwaukee Admirals tie things in regulation and gain a point in the standings even if the Eagles did win it in overtime 5-4.
Friday night in the Salt Palace against the same Admirals, and in front of a 20-year record hockey crowd, Guenette proved himself all right.The 23-year-old goaltender acquired from the Pittsburgh chain 18 days ago pitched the first Eagle shutout since Rick Heinz won one on Nov. 6, 1986.
Guenette stopped 28 shots by the best team in the International League, by record, and the Eagles got two goals from Peter Lappin and two short-handed goals to whip Milwaukee 5-0.
Witnessing was a standing-room-only crowd of 11,231, the largest to ever see a Golden Eagle game, breaking by seven the previous record set May 18, 1981.
Oh yeah. It was Bikini Night.
"I felt I had to make up for the other night when I played so badly and single-handedly gave Milwaukee a point," said Guenette.
"Goaltenders always tend to be hard on themselves," said Eagle Coach Paul Baxter. "Tonight he was excellent in all areas. He handled the puck well, smothered the first shot and handled the second if there was one."
The Eagles took a 1-0 lead at 9:54 when Lappin knocked down a clearing pass at the Milwaukee blue line and scored unassisted, but the Admirals were playing well until Eagle captain Rich Chernomaz scored another unassisted goal, this one short-handed, at 18:49.
"The momentum changed when they scored the short-handed goal," said Milwaukee Coach Rick Ley.
The Eagles went up 3-0 on Lappin's second goal, at 7:14 of the second period, and Paul Ranheim scored another short-handed goal two minutes later to put Milwaukee in a hole.
Milwaukee wasn't totally out of it, even down by four, because the Eagles gave the Ads a long 5-on-3 power play in the middle of the second period.
The Eagles killed that, and then Milwaukee started to come apart. It was called for too many men on the ice and compounded it 40 seconds later with a tripping penalty
nd a misconduct for complaining. Before that 5-on-3 was killed, Milwaukee drew another minor for too many men, and then Marc Crawford slashed the referee across the wrist at 17:30 for a game misconduct that could turn into something worse.
The Eagles didn't score, but Randy Bucyk goaled on a Randy Boyd cross-checking minor to open the third.
Ley said the first too-many-men call "was terrible; the second one we deserved." He didn't like the call for tripping, saying it wasn't a scoring chance and the Eagles should have gotten the penalty instead.
"That's when we lost our cool. We lost our composure, including the coach. But we kept going and tried to make a game of it," Ley said.
Guenette credited his defense for the big night. "The guys were ready to play," said Guenette. "I don't think they had a screen shot or a rebound all night." Guenette allowed that he made a couple of good saves. "You make a couple saves, there's no reason you shouldn't get a shutout," said Guenette, who had four in Muskegon and one in Pittsburgh in the past 11/2 years.
"This will keep Milwaukee thinking the rest of the way," Guenette added.
The Eagles are second to the Admirals in the standings, six points back. Milwaukee is 33-11-3; the Eagles are 30-16-3.
"I'd have to say Guenette played outstanding," said Lappin. "Every time they had a chance, he'd stop them, and they got frustrated and took dumb penalties that disrupted the flow."
Chernomaz and Lappin both noted that the Eagles have found they can shoot low to the stick side against Troy Gamble.