(Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus)
The Admirals won 4-2 against the Rockford IceHogs Friday night. Goals scored by Shalla, Salomaki, Bitetto, and Beck powered the Ads to their third-straight win. The victory also holds the point streak to seven consecutive games. The Ads have yet to lose in regulation this season.
The Ads finally snapped two ugly stretches by scoring the opening goal of the game on the power-play. Entering the contest, the Ads were on an 0-9 run on the power-play. Plus, it was the first time since the opening game of the season where the Ads managed to score the first goal. How? Scott Valentine took a one-timed howitzer that IceHogs goalie Kent Simpson couldn’t get full grasp of. Right there to reap the benefits was Joshua Shalla who poked the puck in for the opener and his second goal of the season.
“We were great in the first period,” said Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We took the game to them. We were physical. We didn’t turn pucks over. We got pucks to the net. [The team] did exactly what they wanted to do in order to give them a chance to have success.”
Mark McNeill managed to score his seventh goal of the season to tie things up quickly for the IceHogs. McNeill was on the Marek Mazanec’s doorstep after a deflected shot from the point knuckled in on goal. Mazanec was down and out with the entirety of the net for McNeill to shoot into.
After a two-on-one between Watson and Rask broke down on the way to goal, the puck fell behind Miikka Salomaki who spun around and let fly. The 20-year old Fin managed to sling his shot past Simpson for his first career AHL goal to restore the Ads one goal lead..
In the second period an outstanding shift put in from a line consisting of Liambas-Tousignant-Budish led to an Anthony Bitetto goal. Crafty skating and puck movement by Tousignant set the stage for a series of passes that eventually went to the tape of Bitetto, who skated in, went with a backhander, and snuck one by Simpson. That’s Bitetto’s fourth goal of the season.
“It’s a good story,” said Evason of Anythony Bitetto’s performance this season. “He got sent down last year. Came back with absolutely the right attitude. He was in tremendous shape. We asked him to drop his body fat, to get into shape, that he’s going to be a key guy for us this year and or the Nashville Predators organization. He did all the right things. He came in [this season] in tremendous shape and it shows. You watch him carry the puck up and lug it out of our zone. The best breakout is if a defenseman can carry it all the way down to the other end and make a play with it. He does that every game.”
Rockford clawed back with a power-play goal after an unnecessary play from Salomaki saw him off for interference. The goal was set up by a behind the net pass by Dylan Olsen that picked out Alex Broadhurst on the right wing. Broadhurst let fly and scored his fourth goal of the season and close the score to a 3-2 Admiral lead.
Taylor Beck put the finishing touches to the game by scoring an empty net goal on an Ads power-play. The goal for Beck is his second of the season and acted as a nice reward for a good defensive night for the more typically offensive puck wielding Beck.
Another game and another win under the belt for goaltender Marek Mazanec. It wasn’t as flashy as some of his outings during this four-game homestand, but he is proving more and more reliable as he gets the chance to start games on a regular basis. Tonight’s game he produced twenty-eight saves and the two goals he allowed weren’t soft by any means.
The Ads are now off to Iowa where they begin the first of a four-game road trip.
How long will the point streak last? Who impressed you the most this opening homestand? Discuss! Discuss!