The Admirals won 4-2 against the red hot Texas Stars Saturday night. A great second period effort from the Ads propelled the team to victory after trailing by two goals in the first period.
“We were fortunate we were only down two,” said Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Five on five we weren’t bad in the first period. We just weren’t as detailed as we thought we should have been.”
Colton Sissons continued his outstanding start to the season by scoring two goals. Joshua Shalla and Austin Watson both tallied their first goals of the season. While a great 26 save performance in net by Marek Mazenec helped secure the victory at home.
Former Admiral Chris Mueller started for the Stars and won the opening face-off in his first game against his old team. The popular Admiral was the go-to guy in the pre-game skate as several players and members of the team talked to Mueller. Everyone was quite happy to see him back around the rink.
“It’s always good to see guys who you went to war with,” smiled Mike Liambas.
The Ads earned the opening power-play chance from an interference call by Texas while they were in their offensive zone. The Ads produced two good chances off the stick of Anthony Bitetto. His shots were clean to the net but failed to produce a goal.
The unfortunate then took place. A turnover from the Ads blueline lead to a shorthanded breakaway chance for Travis Morin. Bryan Rodney insured that would not happen by hitting Morin square in the head with a shoulder. The intent for a head shot wasn’t there. Looked like he was going in body-to-body but the pace of Morin altered the angle of impact.
Nevertheless, power-play gone – 4-on-4 hockey with a power-play to the Stars instead. The Stars cashed in just as the 4-on-4 expired. A great pass from Maxime Fortunus reached Morin whose slapper deflected off of Curtis McKenzie for a PP goal.
With the Ads earning another power-play, the Stars PK unit outpaced and simply suffocated the Admirals in their own zone. This lead to a turnover right in front of Mazanec and an unassisted shorthanded goal by Stars center Taylor Peters.
The first intermission was much needed for the Ads who were very over-powered in the first period. How do they start the second frame? Hot. They battled the boards strong and seemed to work the Stars onto their back-foot.
Reward would come after a great shift by the Liambas-Sissons-Rask line put the Ads on the scoreboard. Liambas tossed a puck to the net that Cristopher Nilstorp couldn’t trap. Sissons was right on top of the net to tap in the loose puck for his third goal of the season.
Persistence continued for the Ads as they equalized late in the second period after a silky series of passes. The break into the zone started off with Bitetto, who slowed down to find Van Guilder, and he picked out Joshua Shalla who one-timed it past Nilstorp for an equalizing goal.
The Ads didn’t let off the gas after the equalizer. Just one minute and thirteen seconds after Shalla’s goal Sissons tagged the net for his second of the game. Sissons took a great backhanded feed from the wall by Taylor Beck and deposited his wrister under Nilstorp’s blocker arm. That would be goal number four for him now.
With the Stars beginning to tilt the ice, the Ads and Austin Watson came from nowhere to push the lead to 4-2 in the closing stages of the third period. Watson skated in from the right wing and ripped a shot over the glove of Nilstorp for his first goal of the season.
Texas managed a strong push with their net empty (as well as a man-advantage from a Scott Ford boarding call), but the Ads held on for a 4-2 win over the visiting Stars. A really solid effort by the team after a sluggish start that saw them trail 2-0 and that deficit could have been even larger after the opening period.
Standout player of the evening was netminder Marek Mazenec. He posted 26 saves in the victory. More importantly he made some stellar “last line of defense” saves with the speed of the Stars attack getting the jump on the Ads defense. He looked very confident in net and the rest of the team really believes in the young Czech.
“We said right from the start that Mazenec and Hellberg were going to be 1 and 1-a,” commented Evason. “We didn’t come into the season that [Hellberg] was one and Mazenec was two. We planned on flipping them and seeing where we sit. It’s a nice thing to have two guys that we feel are real good prospects. [Mazenec] showed it tonight.”
The two will lock horns again Wednesday night and I, for one, can’t wait for the sequel.