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ADMIRALS DOWN GOLDEN EAGLES, SEND SERIES BACK TO SALT LAKE

SHARE ADMIRALS DOWN GOLDEN EAGLES, SEND SERIES BACK TO SALT LAKE

The Milwaukee Admirals stayed alive in their Turner Cup quarterfinal playoffs with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, erasing a 3-2 Eagle lead en route to a 6-3 victory Saturday as the Admirals' David Bruce scored all three of his hat-trick goals in Milwaukee's four-goal third period.

The Eagles had hoped to end the playoff series by claiming their clinching fourth victory in Saturday afternoon's Game 5 at the Bradley Center. However, the loss dropped Salt Lake's game advantage to 3-2, with the series switching back to the Salt Palace.After the fight-marred game, Eagle Coach Bob Francis was expressing concern about the series being extended by the Admirals; however, he wasn't ready to sound like the Emergency Broadcast System. "This game gave them a purpose," he said. "But again you can't panic. We're up 3-2 (in the series) and we're going home. We've got to take care of business at home."

The two teams return to action Monday at the Salt Palace, with Game 6 starting at 7 p.m. And Game 7 - if necessary - is set for Tuesday, with the Admirals looking to be the third team in International Hockey League history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series.

The Eagle-Admiral winner goes on to meet Indianapolis, which already advanced to the semifinals by beating Peoria four games to one.

The Admirals earned first-goal honors Friday - for the first time in the series - with Ian Kidd scoring unassisted by slapping one in while crossing the blue line just 35 seconds into the game. Salt Lake answered 90 seconds later, as Martin Simard earned his third goal of the playoffs with a wrap-around effort behind the net and past the outside shoulder of Milwaukee goalie Troy Gamble.

The Eagles first held off the Admirals despite a two-man disadvanate soon thereafter and took the lead at the 8:08 mark as Marc Bureau tipped a quick-attack pass from the left to a streaking Mark Holmes, who in turn easily tapped in his first playoff goal past Gamble.

Milwaukee knotted the score at 2-each early in the second before Salt Lake regained its one-goal advantage as Chris Biotti scored late in the period. Biotti was making his first appearance of the series.

The Eagles had a chance to increase their margin in the closing moments, but Gamble made a spectacular stop of a Salt Lake shot by Tim Sweeney to keep the score at 3-2. Members of both teams said that Gamble's save may have been the most important play of the game.

Then Bruce and teammate Rob Murphy took control in the third and decisive period - Bruce earning his hat trick in the 20-minute stretch by scoring three goals, with Murphy tallying three of his four assists of the game during the same stretch.

While Bruce was scoring his three goals in the third, Jay Mazur put in the eventual game winner at the 11:27 mark when he took a ricochet off the end boards and slapped it home from the right angle for the 4-3 lead.

"It at least shows how much heart we had," said Gamble of the Admirals' turnaround third period.

And then both teams showed how much spunk they had.

With :51 remaining to play in the contest, the rink transformed into a three-(boxing)-ring circus. The main event was an ongoing battle between Salt Lake's Rick Hayward and Milwaukee's Peter Bakovic, with a bout pitting the Eagles' Rick Lessard and the Ads' Don Gibson headlining the undercard. While the rink was being cleared, the heated exchanges spilled out into the runway from the Eagle bench to the locker room and expanded to involve more than just playing personnel.

"Don't write about that," said one Salt Lake player. "There wasn't anything going on."