The Admirals won 5-2 on the road against the Iowa Wild late Sunday afternoon. Penalties were pretty abundant in this one: 64 combined penalty minutes. Yet, goals from five different Ads (Budish, Beck, Rodney, Cehlin, and Van Guilder) kept the point streak alive through eight games. The Ads have yet to lose in regulation this season. Netminder Marek Mazanec now has five wins in five starts. How about this team right now?
“It was not the type of game we expected today,” said assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “We knew [the Iowa Wild] were playing three games in three nights and we had a fairly late travel day coming over yesterday. We were hoping to play a game of five-on-five hockey, but we got into all the penalties, power-plays, penalties. It shut a lot of guys down in certain situations. It was kind of feast or famine for both teams.”
As expected, the defense was given a slight shake up ahead of the game. Bryan Rodney returned to the lineup after serving his two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head. Also suiting up, for the first time all season, was Joonas Jarvinen who had been sidelined with an undisclosed injury. The roster shake up meant Teddy Ruth was sent down to the Cincinnati Cyclones. Ruth had played in four games for the Ads, didn’t score a point, and had neutral plus-minus. Perhaps the time down in the ECHL could help Ruth in the same way it did Bitetto last year.
The Ads managed to score the opening goal for the second straight game. Zach Budish scored his first goal of the season off of a one-time shot beat Wild netminder Johan Gustafsson. The goal was set up by Mark Van Guilder and Miikka Salomaki.
Iowa tied the game up in the final minute of the first period on the power-play. A shot from Steven Kampfer was denied by Marek Mazanec. Another robbery by Mazanec took place on Erik Haula. Yet, all the net front pressure meant that any rebound would be a tap in. That’s exactly how the power-play for the Wild would end when Jason Zucker backhanded the rebound to tie things up with thirty-nine seconds remaining in the first period.
Just forty-five seconds into the second period the Wild put a puck past Mazanec to give them a 2-1 lead. The goal, scored by Steven Kampfer, squeaked through the arm of Mazanec on the short-side.
Fight I. was between Mike Liambas and Corbin Baldwin in the second period. Talk about fearless. Liambas (5’9”) versus Baldwin (6’5”). With Aaron Sims call, this sounded like a pretty good one. Here’s hoping the YouTube machine cooks up some footage!
Fight II. took place moments later. This go-round was Mathieu Tousignant against Raphael Bussieres. Much quicker scrap. Take down for Bussieres in the end.
Fight III. was between Anthony Bitetto and Jake Dowell. Bitetto was called for slashing and lined up the experienced tough-man Dowell. The tussle was the third fight in the space of 3:02 of ice time. Egads!
The Ads responded to the Wild’s late first period goal with one of their own to end the second period. Taylor Beck managed to knot the game up at 2-2 with twenty-six seconds remaining in the period.
Bryan Rodney scored a power-play goal in the third period to give the Ads a 3-2 lead. This has to feel great for Rodney. First game back after suspension and he scores a rocket on the Ads PP unit. That is his first goal as a member of the Ads.
“[Rodney] is a real presence on the bench,” said Drulia on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “Saying the right things. Leading the group. On the back end, adding Jarvinen today for his first game of the year. The [defensive] core changed drastically overnight with the insertion of those two players. We have so much veteran leadership on the back end. They play hard. [Rodney] is so calm, cool, and collected with the puck. He makes things happen.”
Rodney continued his good return when one of his shots from the point would be cashed in by Patrick Cehlin. That’s Cehlin’s second goal of the season and it put the Ads up 4-2.
The third period, much quieter by the second period’s standards, was capped off by a Van Guilder empty netter. It would seem the three-in-three did just have a slight effect in the third period. The Ads were in relative control most of the period. Shots on Mazanec were managible. The game finished 5-2 and the Ads remain the AHL’s lone team to not have a loss in regulation.
“They have tremendous work ethic,” said Drulia on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “I think it goes to your leadership group. Scott Ford, we brought him back last year for a reason. We didn’t want [Ford] to leave when he opted to sign with St. Louis and end up in Peoria. Bringing [Ford] back is a huge factor for us. [Ford] makes a difference on and off the ice. I think we’re just a calm group.”
Thoughts on Rodney’s return performance? How about Mazanec’s run in net? Hey, how about this team in general? In the words of Aaron Sims in his post-game show, “What is going on?” The Ads are the only team in the AHL unbeaten in regulation. They have earned a point in all games played. What do you all feel is the biggest factor in this great start to the season?