MILWAUKEE 3, HOUSTON 1
Steve Begin (pictured) and Ryan Thang posted a goal and an assist apiece, and Milwaukee cruised to a 3-1 win over visiting Houston on Friday at the Bradley Center in Game 1 of the West Division Finals, handing the Aeros their first loss of the 2011 postseason
The Admirals will host Game 2 of the best-of-7 series on Sunday afternoon.
Milwaukee looked to take advantage of a Houston squad which had played just five games since Apr. 2 and got out to a quick start. At 9:49, Begin buried his first goal of the playoffs off assists by Thang and Mark Van Guilder.
It marked Begin’s first AHL playoff goal since Game 4 of the 2001 Calder Cup Finals, when he scored for the eventual champion Saint John Flames against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Taylor Beck stretched Milwaukee’s lead to 2-0 just 41 seconds after Begin’s goal. Defenseman Ryan Ellis, drafted 11th overall by Nashville in 2009, picked up an assist on the play in his professional debut.
After a scoreless second period, Thang made it a 3-0 game only 32 seconds into the third frame, with Begin registering the lone helper.
Smith stopped the other 25 shots sent his way, though, and improved to 5-2 this postseason.
The Aeros, who swept Peoria in the first round and had nine days off between games, surrendered the first goal for the fifth straight time this postseason but were unable to come back on this occasion. Rookie goaltender Matt Hackett finished with 16 stops in the losing effort.
West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W2-Houston Aeros
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 29 – MILWAUKEE 3, Houston 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 4 – Thu., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Houston at Milwaukee, 6:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 10 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00