Hockey season is here. Hallelujah.
Lots of new faces this year, and we had a result that we didn’t see very often last year too: a shootout win. 3-2 was your final over the Rockford IceHogs. (We’ll link to the game recap once it is posted….)
Chris Mueller and Mark Van Guilder scored in the shootout, and Jeremy Smith stopped four of five shootout chances, and turned aside 33 of 35 shots in the game for the win.
He didn’t get any style points in the process, though. He was pretty shaky playing the puck behind the net, and had some rebound control issues — some of which led to the two Rockford goals.
“I thought he battled hard,” coach Lambert said after the game. “The problems that he had and gave himself were playing the puck, but that’s a little bit of communication and that’s something that isn’t probably going to be great the first game.
“And rebound control — he created some second and third opportunities for them that happened off of, really for me, easy shots.”
Coach also said that Chet Pickard should be in net for the full game Saturday at Kern Center.
First impressions on some of the new guys.
Defenseman Brett Palin made a great first impression for me. On the power play, he played like he had quarterbacked those kinds of things before. He looked poised and always under control. Never panicky. Especially with a young team, I think he’s going to be one of the unsung heroes of the squad this year.
Gabriel Bourque has speed, physicality, and skill. Killing a penalty in the 3rd period he created a turnover, shifted into overdrive, and went in on a breakaway chance. His shot was denied by IceHogs goalie Alec Richards. But late in the game, he still seemed to have plenty of gas left in the tank. If he plays on Saturday (and if he wears the same number), keep an eye out for #19.
Mike Bartlett played for the Ads during the playoffs last season, and held his own. He more than held his own in this game.
“Mike Bartlett has got a real element of speed that we want, and we can use,” said the coach. And he’s absolutely right. Bartlett was winning battles in the corners and positioning himself well on both sides of the ice. Bartlett played on a line with Dylan Hunter and Chris Mueller, and one could make the argument that they were the best line tonight.
Ryan Flynn – His reputation preceded him a bit. He had a great camp in Nashville. He was okay tonight. Some great speed and some nice shots, but a couple of turnovers that ended offensive rushes prematurely. Just one game. I imagine that if he plays tomorrow, he’ll be better.
Connor Shields — Played some center, played some wing, and scored the game tying goal. Coach has noticed him in practice too, and he was the first name Coach dropped when I asked if any of the free agents had impressed him thus far in camp.
“Connor Shields is a guy I want to take a look at because he plays the game with detail.”
Maybe he’ll be this year’s Wacey Rabbit?
See you at the Kern Center!