The Milwaukee Admirals bested the Rockford IceHogs 2-1 after a ten round shootout at the MSOE Kern Center Friday night. The lone goal of the entire shootout came from Mathieu Tousignant to give the Ads a victory to start the 2013-14 campaign. The regulation goal for the Ads was scored shorthanded late in the second period from Charles Roussel. Ex-Admiral Brad Winchester managed the lone IceHogs goal of the night in the third period.
The opening period of the Ads season started fast and furious. Both sides managed to produce chances in open ice within the opening three minutes of the game. Mark Van Guilder nearly took the opening face off scramble clean to goal, and shortly after that chance Joshua Shalla powered a wrist shot from the left face off dot wide of IceHogs goalie Antti Raanta. The IceHogs Alex Broadhurst then managed a mini-breakaway only to be denied by the glove of second-year Admiral netminder Magnus Hellberg.
“One of the areas we talked about was coming together as a team,” said Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We were really happy with the way we stuck together and played together.”
The Ads managed to outshoot the IceHogs 10-4 in the first period much in part to three power-play opportunities. The cycle of passing by the Ads did manage to see quality shot chances for Joonas Rask and Miikka Salomaki. The only thing lacking was a quality finish to the Ads man-advantage.
The IceHogs held the majority of possession and chances in a very gritty second frame. Yet, the breakthrough would come with less than a minute remaining for the Ads while shorthanded. The IceHogs lost the draw in the Ads zone to start the face off and nearly gave the puck to Van Guilder for a breakaway. The goal would come in the slot from Roussel who blasted a shot through Raanta to give the Ads a 1-0 lead.
With their power-play carrying over into the third, the IceHogs managed to net an equalizer through former Admirals forward Brad Winchester. The IceHogs were held in check during a brief 5 on 3 power-play, but capitalized off of the proceeding man advantage by working wide and finding Winchester creeping inbetween the face off circles.
Regulation wasn’t enough for this physical contest. OT was a blur, and the two teams netminders locked horns in the shootout. Through nine full rounds of the shootout both goalies were a perfect 9-9 in shootout saves.
The crowd finally erupted after Ads center Tousignant slid his shootout attempt beneath the pad of Raanta and to the back of the net. Hellberg capped off a perfect 10-10 in shootout saves by denying Adam Clendening and capping off a stellar pre-season game.
The start of the evening was Ads netminder Hellberg who saved 33-34 shots and all ten in the shootout en route to the win. Considering how well his rookie season went, this could be a sign of maturity and solid development on his part.
“Everything was new to me last year,” said Hellberg. “New impressions, new style of hockey. I think that this year I feel more prepared. It feels good to be back.”
The Ads will officially open up the season on the road with a Friday/Saturday doubleheader against the Abbotsford Heat, Oct. 11th and 12th. The team will then take to Grand Rapids the following Friday ahead of the home opener at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Oct. 19th against the Chicago Wolves.
“We’re going to keep pushing our group,” commented Evason. “They’ve already set the standard as far as their work ethic and they way that they have competed. I think the effort that you saw tonight is going to be a consistent thing for us.”