Hockey’s back. Can I get a hallelujah?
The Admirals opened their pre-season schedule in Rockford on Thursday night, and the IceHogs came back from a 2-0 first period deficit to edge the Admirals 3-2 in a shootout.
While of course they wanted to win the game, Coach Evason says that there’s more to the pre-season games than just that.
Jani Lajunen has the distinction of having the first Admiral goal of the fall. After Juuso Puustinen’s shot/pass went wide of Carter Hutton, Lajunen was behind the goal-line and banked the puck off of Hutton and in the net.
Eight minutes later while on the power play (#furythefury), Anthony Bitetto’s shot was deflected by Juuso Puustinen off metal. Daniel Bang was right in front of the net and finished the job.
In the second period, the IceHogs scored a pair to even things up. Marcus Kruger fired a hard one-timer from the top of the near circle that went off Smitty’s glove and in at 6:23. And then while the Admirals were down two men, Ben Smith poked home the goal after a scramble in front of Magnus Hellberg.
In the shootout, Hellberg allowed goals on the first three shooters he faced, while the Admirals could only get two past relief netminder Mac Carruth.
Jack MacLellan – Michael Latta – Taylor Beck
Daniel Bang – Jani Lajunen – Juuso Puustinen
Josh Shalla – Ben Ryan – Austin Watson
Patrick Cehlin – Andre Bouvet-Morrisette – Cam Reid
Of their 20 dressed players, the Admirals played 9 rookies and 2 additional guys making their North American debut, while the IceHogs had some familiar names and some NHL experience. Names like Nick Leddy, Jimmy Hayes, Andrew Shaw, Ben Smith, and one of the Brookbanks.
No, Rob Flick did not play.
Coach Evason likes how they stacked up against the veteran IceHogs.
The team did some good things, and they did some bad things. The penalty kill was good overall, but they also found themselves down 5-on-3 on three different occasions. Guys would make some solid plays, and then take a Yonking penalty.
But it’s the first game, after three practices. This was a good starting point against a good and seasoned IceHogs team, that already had a pre-season game under their belts. Plenty to build on and work on from tonight’s game. We asked Coach if he was pleased with how the things they worked on in practice translated into the game situation.
What should we expect with the roster for Saturday’s game at the Kern Center?
We also got our first look at hybrid icing in action.
Patrick Cehlin: On a line with a couple of guys that seem destined to be playing hockey in a city other than Milwaukee, Cehlin stood out in a big way with his speed, stickwork, and drive to the net. Looking forward to seeing more.
Victor Bartley: He wore an “A” on his jersey and picked up right where he left off at the end of last season. Great puck mover, solid in both ends, and he even came to the defense of a teammate in the sort of way that you’d see Scott Ford do it last year. Jimmy Hayes had a really big hit on Anthony Bitetto behind the Admiral goal in the 2nd period, and Bartley took exception. He ended up getting a roughing penalty on the play, but there was zero hesitation on his part. His teammate got rocked, and he jumped in.
Scott Valentine: Overall, a solid game, but what stands out to me was what a one-man-wrecking crew he was down low as the Ads were killing off a 5-on-3 in the third period. He was blocking passes in the lanes, he was winning races to pucks, disrupting timing, and he was without a doubt the best player on the ice that shift. I’m concerned that he may be on the short end of a numbers game once Ryan Ellis gets healthy, but he played well tonight.
Daniel Bang: Played on the line with Puustinen and Lajunen, and wasn’t afraid to drive to the net. Great net presence, and got rewarded with a goal.
Joonas Jarvinen: Got the second assist on both Admiral goals, and was solid in his own end. Dropped the gloves against Brookbank and fought to a draw. Neither guy got any particularly good shots in, which for Brookbank, must be a huge disappointment. Joonas held his own fine, and made good decisions throughout the night.
Jeremy Smith: VERY sharp. And needed to be early on. How did he spend his summer? Getting even better. I think we’ll be in good shape with him again this year.
Austin Watson: Had some good plays on the forecheck and backcheck, but didn’t notice much else.
Josh Shalla: Didn’t notice him much at all. After the stellar junior career, was hoping he’d have more of an offensive impact. But it’s just one game…hope we’ll see him Saturday.
Andre Bouvet-Morrisette: Probably going to Cincy. Didn’t do much to help his cause to be kept here. Cam Reid didn’t help himself much either.
Charles-Olivier Roussel: Played much better than the last time we saw him. Not afraid to jump in the play, but the flip side is that he can get caught up ice when the puck goes the other way. Ok in his own end. Probably a Cincy guy with our depth charts the way they are.
Magnus Hellberg: The return of the big goalie! Good positioning and reactions. Made some big saves in the third period. A bit scrambly at times. Played well overall, but I think there’s plenty that Mitch Korn will want to work on with him.