Milwaukee even with Rockford after 4-3 loss

Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus
Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus

In a back-and-forth contest, Rockford beat the Admirals for the second time in a row.

The 4-3 win tied the IceHogs and Admirals in points with 75 a piece and will make things a little more difficult down the stretch for the Ads’ playoff hopes.

Magnus Hellberg got his fifth straight loss against the IceHogs despite a solid 43-save performance.

Coach Dean Evason said the Ads struggled to win puck battles and that resulted in a whopping 47 shots from Rockford.

Just eight seconds into their first power play, the Ads got the lead courtesy of a great pass from Brad Winchester to Juuso Puustinen. Puusty was able to whip the one-timer past Henrik Karlsson from the left circle.

Puusty said the Ads tried something a little different on the power play that led to the quick score.

Martin St. Pierre tied the game at 12:39 after Hellberg held off the first two shot attempts of an IceHogs possession. St. Pierre was able to grab the rebound and slide it underneath Hellberg who couldn’t really see it through a crowd.

A long blast from Ryan Stanton deflected in off of Patrick Cehlin to give Rockford the 2-1 lead at 16:42. The Ads had a shot to tie it with just under a minute left in the period, but Brandon Svendsen made a great effort to lay out and block a Mattias Ekholm strike.

Milwaukee was outshot 18-8 in the first period, and needed  to respond quickly to turn the tide. It did just that in the first twelve minutes, outshooting Rockford 8-0.

The Ads couldn’t use their second power play to tie things up, but Austin Watson, Ekholm and Mark Van Guilder all fired off good opportunities.

Paul Crowder had a great chance for his first Admiral goal with eight minutes left. He came in contested on the rush, freed the puck up for Josh Shalla, and it came back to him, but he couldn’t steer the puck past a defender.

Milwaukee finally did get the equalizer with 2:54 left in the period when Watson grabbed a Rockford turnover deep in the IceHogs’ zone. He fed it to Puustinen who fired a sweet pass right to a wide-open Daniel Bang in the slot.

Bang almost gave the Ads the lead taking a pass from Watson on a 2-on-1 rush, but he couldn’t get quite get enough on the shot. The score remained tied at 2-2 heading into the third period.

Rostislav Olesz put the IceHogs back up 3-2, knuckling a shot from the slot through a defender and over Hellberg’s right shoulder. With the awkward flight of the puck, it was tough for Hellberg to get a read on it.

In his first night playing as a winger, Scott Valentine made it 3-3, putting in a Paul Crowder rebound. It was Crowder’s first point as an Admiral and Valentine’s fifth goal of the year.

Olesz quickly sucked the life out of the Bradley Center, and put Rockford back up 4-3 just 33 seconds later. Some sloppy Milwaukee defense led to his second goal that would become the game-winner.

Hellberg hit the bench with a minute remaining, and the Ads couldn’t poke an attempt home on a scramble in front with 39.3 to go. It stayed mostly at Rockford’s end for the remainder of the contest as the IceHogs ran out the clock.

Notes:

Brad Winchester played his first game with an “A” on his jersey after the Martin Erat and Michael Latta for Forsberg deal left the Ads an alternate captain short. Evason said Winchester and Scott Ford will share the “A” with Ford taking home games and Winchester taking the away and third jerseys.

In his first game for Milwaukee Zach Budish skated with Cam Reid and Michael Liambas on a pretty imposing line. Budish didn’t make much of an impact tonight, and the Minnesota Golden Gopher star said fitting in will be a gradual process.

Evason thought both newcomers made solid first impressions.

The coach said Jeremy Smith is nowhere near coming back or even getting back out onto the ice with an unspecified “lower body” injury. He said Kevin Henderson, however, will likely return soon though probably not this weekend.

Questions:

Valentine made a few big hits as a forward and scored that key goal to tie the game late. Evason thought he should’ve played Valentine more.

What did you think of him on the offensive end tonight?

What did you like or dislike about Crowder and Budish?

What’s the problem with Hellberg and Rockford? Tonight, to be fair, he got let down a few times by his defense, particularly on the St. Pierre goal and the Stanton goal.

3 thoughts on “Milwaukee even with Rockford after 4-3 loss”

  1. Valentine played well as a winger. He nearly scored a goal a few minutes into the game. He showed a lot of speed and made a lot of neutral zone hits. Crowder was like a combination of MVG and Henderson. He was all over the ice! I watched Budish, he played okay, but nothing outstanding in his first game for Milwaukee. Puustinen played well, with a goal and an assist. The team needed more offense and more time in the offensive zone. Way too much chipping the puck or dump and chase in this game.

    The defense was porous, especially Ford and Bitetto. Rockford had a quality scoring chance almost every time those two were on the ice. They made a lot of mistakes with the puck near their own goal and looked out of synch with each other. Ekholm was the best D-man, followed by Jaarvinen. Piskula was okay, but Moore looked shaky at times and passed poorly.

    Hellberg made 43 saves. That is too many. The team needed to limit the shots to around 30 or less to win. Rockford had that many by the end of the second period. Too many IceHogs had quality shots on him. In the second period, Hellberg got 1/2 inch of the puck with his glove, just enough to deflect it over the crossbar. If it went in, the game would have been over.

    The 4th goal by Rockford was a heart breaker; and maybe a season ender. With Chicago losing and OKC behind 2-1, this was a golden chance to move up in the seedings. Rockford getting 2 points and Milwaukee none really hurts the playoff chances. I think they need 86 points to make the playoffs, their maximum is now 91 points. They have 5 road games and 3 home games. If they don’t win two against Charlotte and sweep Chicago, I don’t have much hope. They have games next weekend against Grand Rapids and Rockford again and finish the season at Peoria.

  2. Even with a loss, Hellberg had a very good game. Based upon the shoddy defense and slap and hope puck handling, this game could easily have had a lopsided score.

    With only a handful of games left in the regular season, at times it still looks like we’re in the first month of it. While there were some great scoring chances, and also some very good attempts, there were other times where it was almost laughable. Actually, there were times when it was laughable. 4 Ads standing mid ice, and the puck drops from above right in the center of their little huddle. While all 4 are looking at the puck, a Hog skates in and runs with it. Really?

    Tomorrow’s game is going to be a biatch with travel and zone changes. Maybe they’ll be numb enough to pull it off, but I’m not holding out much hope for that.

  3. Agreed with all said. This week was crucial to win and I would not doubt if the losses this week already ended playoff possibility. You can’t blame Hellberg for last night. 3 out of 47 doesn’t sound bad at all. You can’t give the other team 47 sog. The Ads were outplayed all game.

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