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Milwaukee Admirals

Admirals Steal WCF Game 3 After Cooley’s Masterful Performance



Admirals goaltenders Devin Cooley and Yaroslav Askarov

The Milwaukee Admirals are now 4-2 on home ice this postseason after earning their first-ever win over the Coachella Valley Firebirds 3-1 on Monday night at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

Making his first start since April 14, Admirals goaltender Devin Cooley subbed into the starting lineup for Yaroslav Askarov. The 26-year-old, who had a 15-8-2 record with a 2.92 goals-against average and .909 save percentage during the regular season, stopped 28 of 29 shots 28 saves and limiting the Firebirds to one goal or fewer for just the second time this postseason.

Cooley last played in the playoffs on May 27 of last season, falling to the Chicago Wolves 5-1.

“Yeah, after the first few saves it’s like riding a bike again,” Cooley said. “After the first few saves, I was feeling pretty good. By the second period, I felt like I was back to my normal self. That’s a credit to all the other non-game players and [Scott Ford] and [Greg Rallo] for putting together skates before games.”

“He played well I thought we made it easy on him tonight,” Ads coach Karl Taylor said of Cooley’s performance. “He made the saves he had to and played really calm, very difficult situation for him coming into a game. He’s been doing the right things and he was ready to go today in a big moment for himself and the hockey team.”

The lone Firebirds goal was scored by 2022 No. 4 overall pick Shane Wright at 4:08 of the second period. More high-danger chances came for Coachella Valley, but Cooley wasn’t conceding much.

“You never know when it’s going to happen or when you’re going to be called upon, so you try to be ready whenever that comes,” Cooley said.

Taylor was pleased with his team’s performance in its first home game since May 13.

“The guys were ready to play from the start tonight and I thought we played an excellent game,” Taylor said. “We weathered the storm when they had their pushes, but I thought it was a good effort by our group and it was a great win. Now we know we can beat this team. We have belief and we feel good about what we’re doing.”

Red-hot Admirals defenseman Marc Del Gaizo scored his fourth goal of the playoffs at 7:13 of the second period, answering Wright’s goal that put Milwaukee down 1-0.

Then top Predators prospect Joakim Kemell flashed his goal-scoring prowess, scoring his team-leading seventh goal of the playoffs to put Milwaukee ahead 2-1 before the second intermission. Kemell now has 13 goals in 25 games since joining the Admirals in mid-March. Six of his goals have come on the power play.

In the third period, Admirals defenseman Keaton Thompson added an insurance goal to seal the 3-1 win. It was Thompson’s first playoff goal since the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs with the San Diego Gulls. The 27-year-old blue liner had to reach back to keep a pass from forward Mark Jankowski from going past the blue line. Once he was set for a move, Thompson let one rip past Firebirds goalie Joey Daccord.


After Cooley’s performance, the Admirals have to decide whether to ride the hot hand or turn back to Askarov, who started Milwaukee’s first 12 playoff games and posted a 6-6 record with a 2.70 goals-against average and .903 save percentage before Cooley got the Game 3 start.

Milwaukee will have a day off before getting ready for Game 4 on Thursday night at 7 p.m. CT.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @KieserNick

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