The Admirals managed to shutout the Iowa Wild 1-0 on the road Saturday night. Scott Darling, making his second career AHL start, earned his first AHL decision with a 32 save shutout victory on the road. The lone goal of the game came late in the first period off of a Colton Sissons redirection for his seventh goal of the season.
The news going into this one was interesting to follow. Just prior to the game it was announced that Magnus Hellberg suffered a “lower body” injury during the middle of last night’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago Wolves. He played through the rest of that game and did travel with the team to Iowa. Yet, he was officially listed as “out” for this game.
Filling in for him, as the emergency goalie, was 46-year old coach, off-ice official, and Des Moines area resident Derek Hender. This wasn’t the first time Hender has served in this capacity in Iowa this year. He filled in as an emergency goalie for the Texas Stars earlier this month.
This meant Scott Darling was going to get the start in net and his response was really good. He faced a total of 32 shots. Didn’t allow many rebounds. Denied the Wild on a few breakaway and odd-man rush opportunities. And he held the fort in the dying seconds of the game when the Wild had a power-play with the extra-attacker on the ice. The shutout victory goes down as his first career AHL decision in net.
The lone goal of the game came after a rather tame first period for both sides. The Admirals goal came with less than three minutes remaining in the first period thanks to a deflection. Joonas Jarvinen’s shot to the net bounced off of Colton Sissons’ skate, fooling Darcy Kuemper in net, and giving the Ads a first period lead. The goal for Sissons is his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
The action picked up big time in the late stages of regulation. With four minutes remaining and the Admirals on the power-play Darling was required to deny a shorthanded effort. Miikka Salomaki tossed a puck towards Anthony Bitetto and it managed to get in-behind him. Racing after and claiming the loose puck was Jake Dowell who was then off on a shorthanded breakaway. Darling made a crucial stop to keep it 1-0 and bail out the failed connection from Salomaki to Bitetto.
With 1:02 remaining, Ads defenseman Bryan Rodney was called for holding and the Wild decided to take their timeout and pull their goalie. The Wild did establish some pucks to the net but they passed themselves out of the attacking zone and then went offsides with seventeen seconds remaining.
The best chances to win the game for the Wild were behind them the moment the puck left the zone. The Ads managed to hang on by the strength of Scott Darling and a deflection off of Colton Sissons to get the Ads back in the win column.
Thoughts on Scott Darling’s performance tonight? How good of a response was this by the team after a less than stellar game against the Wolves just 24 hours prior? If Hellberg is out for an extended period of time do you now feel confident that Darling could hold down the net in that time? Though the defense was good tonight, any concerns in the offense only scoring one goal from thirty-four shots tonight?