In a crucial home contest against the IceHogs, the Ads came out a bit flat. Ten surrendered power play chances heavily contributed to a 3-1 loss that knocked Milwaukee down a spot to ninth place in the West.
Magnus Hellberg’s three-game winning streak came to an end as the big goalie stopped 33 of 36 shots he faced. He looked solid, but as coach Dean Evason reiterated in his postgame overview, two of the goals he allowed were last touched by Admirals.
Evason felt some of his team’s ten two-minute minors were earned and others weren’t, but as a whole they kept the Ads “chasing the game.”
The Ads went on the penalty kill for the first time just 2:12 into the game after a high sticking call on Ryan Ellis.
Brad Winchester had a great chance for a breakaway shorty, but Carter Hutton got a piece of the shot and sent it over the net.
Mike Liambas tried to bait Garret Ross into an unsportsmanlike conduct call, but the refs didn’t call it after Ross dropped his gloves. Instead both players dropped the gloves on the next faceoff and Liambas dominated the ensuing fight, knocking Ross to the ice twice. Liambas would play the rest of the first and the second period wearing No. 19 due to blood on his jersey.
The Ads got 1:10 of power play after a too many men on the ice call negated another Ellis high stick. The Winchester-Zach Hamill-Juuso Puustinen line got some good chances on net, but failed to score.
The Ads got another power play chance after a Martin St. Pierre slashing call, but the Ads PP unit again couldn’t capitalize despite some good puck movement.
At the end of a scoreless first period, Rockford led 10-7 in shots. The IceHogs would outshoot Milwaukee 18-6 in the second thanks to six Admiral penalties.
After a holding call on Anthony Bitetto, who filled in for an injured Mike Moore, gave Rockford another early power play chance, Adam Clendening’s long slapper found its way into the net. It looked like it may have bounced in off Ellis.
Rockford added to its lead at 14:08 with another power play goal. This one was tipped in to an empty net by Ben Smith after a Jeremy Morin shot was initially held out by Hellberg.
At 12:47 of the third period, Klas Dahlbeck’s redirected slapper beat Hellberg five-hole to give the IceHogs a three-goal cushion.
Juuso Puustinen finally got the Ads on the board with five minutes to play, backhanding in a Patrick Cehlin rebound for his seventh point in eight games.
That would be all for the Ads, however, as 32 shorthanded penalty minutes kept them from getting into a consistent offensive rhythm.
Evason said he has no report or timetable on Moore’s return as he hasn’t been officially evaluated yet by team medical staff. He did, however, say we could see Joonas Rask as early as Tuesday. He hadn’t been cleared to play Saturday.
We caught up with Hamill and asked him about the experience of joining a team battling for a late playoff spot, and how he views his game.
The Ads are now two points behind Rockford for the eighth spot with four games left to play next week.
Saturday felt like it could have been a turning point either way for Milwaukee. After some really solid outings on the road, this one felt like a reversion. How big a blow is this to the team’s postseason hopes (if any at all)?
How many of those calls did you feel the Ads deserved? How much do you think it affected their rhythm as the game progressed?