On a night that Rockford used to celebrate being named the third most “Miserable City” in the U.S. by Forbes Magazine, the home fans got something to smile about.
In a sloppy game for both sides the IceHogs grabbed a 2-1 win over the Admirals Tuesday night in Rockford.
The loss dropped Milwaukee (75 points in 67 games) from seventh to ninth place in the Western Conference and moved Rockford (73 points in 67 games) to within closing distance of the Admirals in the division standings.
Magnus Hellberg got the start and had a decent night in net with 21 saves, and the Admirals’ offense outshot the IceHogs 32-23. Unfortunately, it didn’t add up to a win as Milwaukee missed some golden opportunities to tie the game in the third period.
Kyle Beach got Rockford on the board at 18:02 of the first period with his 15th goal of the season. Beach fired a low shot from the high slot that beat Hellberg stick side.
A too many men on the ice call late in the second period gave the Ads their third power play chance of the game, and Milwaukee would take advantage to tie the game 1-1 at 15:31.
Brad Winchester started a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play feeding Juuso Puustinen from the far dot. Puusty tipped the puck right to Michael Latta in the slot, and Latta put it past Henrik Karlsson.
Rockford came right back to retake the lead after a questionable turn of events. Scott Ford thought he had his stick knocked away by an IceHog and pleaded for a penalty.
Meanwhile, Rockford started a rush into the Admirals zone, and a furious Fordo looked on as Ryan Stanton scored on a snapshot from the top of the right circle at 18:47. Even Milwaukee assistant coach Stan Drulia said his team “thought they’d be going on the power play” after Ford lost his stick.
The Admirals responded with a good final push in the last twenty minutes, but Karlsson stopped all 14 shots he saw down the stretch to get his first win against Milwaukee.
At 9:23, Brad Mills ran into Hellberg knocking the big goalie to the ice. Magnus got right back up, Mills went to the box for goalie interference, but the Ads couldn’t captialize on their fifth and final power play chance.
With around five minutes to play, Josh Shalla had a great chance against a fallen Karlsson, but couldn’t find the puck.
Hellberg hit the bench with 1:44 to play, but the Ads couldn’t nab the equalizer despite two more good chances in the final minute.
Karlsson stopped a Winchester shot, but couldn’t handle the rebound cleanly resulting in a scramble in front that was eventually covered. Later, Mark Van Guilder had a wide open shot roll right off his stick.
From there, Rockford was able to clear twice and run out the clock.
Kevin Henderson left the game right around the second intermission with an undisclosed injury, and Drulia said he will be reevaluated tomorrow.
Rockford continued a dominant trend improving its record when leading after two periods to 19-1-0. Milwaukee meanwhile has won just five games when trailing after two.
Latta’s goal was his ninth of the season, third power play goal and second in Milwaukee’s last three games.
Peeking up at Nashville, Taylor Beck grabbed two assists in the Predators’ 3-1 win over Colorado tonight.
Things are pretty close in the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff picture. Just six points separate the fifth-place spot from the eleventh-place spot. Right now there are three teams (the Heat, the IceHogs and the Admirals) on the outside looking in but still in contention for postseason spots with Chicago currently holding the final spot with 75 points.
What advantages do you think the Admirals have over the teams left in the field, if any? Do you foresee the Ads reemerging from the pack? They are still 7-2-1 in their last 10.
A year and a day ago the Ads and IceHogs engaged in a massive, memorable bench-clearing brawl at the Bradley Center. Some saw it as a turning point for that Milwaukee team, others saw it as just two frustrated teams hashing things out.
Do you think the Ads need a similar sort of rallying point as the season winds down?
Where does Rockford rank on your list of “most miserable cities” in America? Was Forbes too harsh or too generous?