A spearing major/game misconduct penalty against the Eagles nearly did them in on Saturday night in Peoria, but the same penalty called by the same referee Sunday afternoon against the Admirals helped Salt Lake skate off with a 4-3 victory to disappoint a crowd of 12,087 in the Bradley Center.
The Eagles thus won the season series against Milwaukee, the first-place team in the West Division of the IHL, 7-5, and that would give the Eagles the edge in postseason tiebreaker procedures should Milwaukee and Salt Lake end up with the same number of points and same number of wins for the season.The win also moved the Eagles to within two points of Milwaukee. Milwaukee, with a 42-19-3 record, has 87 points, and the 41-20-3 Eagles have 85. If they are to meet again this season, it will be in the playoffs.
Saturday in Peoria, referee Terry Koharski called a stick major against an Eagle defenseman, and that gave the Rivermen a power-play goal and two-goal lead to end the first period. The Eagles came back for a 3-2 win.
Sunday in Milwaukee, Koharski called Admiral Randy Boyd for spearing the Eagles' Jim Johannson at 18:49 of the second period with Milwaukee up 3-2, and Boyd received the major penalty and mandatory game misconduct.
Eagle defenseman Jim Leavins, who joined the club two weeks ago after playing most of the season in Finland, scored his first of the season with a slap shot on that major power play at 19:06 of the second period to send the Eagles into the intermission with a 3-3 tie and several more power-play minutes left.
They didn't score again on the major, but less than a minute after it expired, 4:51 of the third period, Eagle Marc Bureau planted a ricochet behind Admiral goalie Frank Caprice for the ggal that became the game-winner as both goalies played shutout from there on.
Johannson, who's beginning to score again like he did last season at this time when he joined the Eagles off the Olympic team, opened Sunday's game with his 28th goal of the season at 3:26 of the first period on a rebound of a Paul Ranheim shot. He and Ranheim had worked together for Saturday's final score, the game-winner at Peoria.
Milwaukee's Dan Hodgson tied it 1-1; Steve Guenette had stopped him on a breakaway, but as he skated toward a shift change, his shot from center ice snekaed in at 9:19 of the first.
Eagle Rich Chernomaz scored on a power play at 13:49, but Milwaukee opened the second period with two goals, by Ernie Vargas and Hodgson, to take a 3-2 lead.
Both the Eagles and Admirals are idle until Wednesday, when Milwaukee travels to Saginaw and Salt Lake plays at Fort Wayne. The Eagles return to the Salt Palace for a seven-game homestand starting Thursday.