The Admirals lost 4-2 on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday night. The Griffins score three goals in the space of 3:17 at the end of the first period to really put the stranglehold on the Ads tonight. The Ads did receive goals from Joonas Rask (his first of the season) and Colton Sissons (his team best tenth of the season) but just didn’t have enough late in the third period to claw back even before the Griffins empty netter sealed the result.
Long story short: this game was pretty darn intense. Mike Liambas against former-Admiral Tristan Grant would become a staple of this game and it all started just five-minutes into the game. Joonas Rask skated through the neutral zone and was sandwiched by Grant and Tomas Jurco. Grant went high. Jurco went low. Liambas came to the rescue and landed some good ones on Grant before having his jersey pulled around his head to end the fight.
Then came a moment I’ve been awaiting for the better part of this season. That’s right. Joonas Rask scored his first goal of the season. The Fin was Johnny-on-the-spot to secure a rebound and smack a backhander past Tom McCollum to give the Ads the game’s first goal. For Rask, this was his first professional goal since his debut with the Ads last season: 4/19/13 vs. Charlotte.
Then came another moment.. this one being much more surprising. Similar to the opening fight of the game an Admirals player came to the rescue of a teammate on the end of a big hit. The man who was hit? Mathieu Tousignant. The man to his rescue and drop the gloves? Rask. In a matter of moments Rask was an assist shy of a first period Gordie How hat trick. He went toe-to-toe with Brennan Evans. Rask clearly lost the bout but also won over plenty of respect from more than just his teammates by stepping up to the plate.
Grand Rapids leveled the game at 1-1 through a quick-fire power-play goal from Ryan Sproul. The rookie d-man hit a rocket past Ads goalie Scott Darling. It was his sixth goal of the season.
The Griffins were then the recipient of an incredibly awkward bounce off the glass behind Darling’s net. The puck spanked off the glass, fooled Darling, and fell right in place for Mitch Callahan to take care of the rest. Just like that it was a 2-1 hockey game.
Grand Rapids wouldn’t stop there to end the first period, either. Teemu Pulkkinen scored from a rebound to net the team’s third goal in the span of 3:17. That was Pulkkinen’s tenth goal of the season.
The second period was very intense but started with an Admirals goal. Colton Sissons tallied his team leading tenth goal of the season. Sissons was able to take a rebound from McCollum and backhand it past him to draw things back to a one-goal game at 3-2.
Then came the rough stuff – and I mean rough. Liambas and Grant were reunited on the ice and Grant crushed him with a high elbow near the head. Liambas went down incredibly hard and stayed down for awhile before getting up and skating over to the bench. As was the case with previous fights in the game, an Ads player came to the rescue from this heavy Griffins hit. This go-round it was Tousignant who went after Grant. As was not the case with previous fights, despite them occurring in roughly the exact same circumstances, Tousignant was stamped with a ten-minute misconduct for instigating. The coaches on the bench were heated in regards to that call – with good reason. I still don’t understand that decision versus letting the other fights happen without an instigator.
In the late staged of the third period, with the game still 3-2 Griffins, the wacky calls from the referees continued. Ex-Admiral Jordin Tootoo tripped Miikka Salomaki. The call on the ice was a trip on Tootoo and a dive by Salomaki. This made absolutely zero sense what so ever to me. If it is a dive by Salomaki – it’s a dive and no trip should be called. If it is a tripping call – then how can it possibly be a dive?
The call meant the game would be ending with four-on-four hockey instead of the Ads having a power-play chance with an extra attacker to follow once Darling emptied the Admirals’ net. Instead, it was an empty net five-on-four for the Ads. The Griffins managed to miss the empty net three times and iced the puck a few times in the closing seconds. They eventually capped the game off by hitting that empty net through Landon Ferraro.
Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda. These two are back at it tomorrow night.
(Unfortunately the “Game Highlights” from Grand Rapids cut out the opening fight between Liambas and Grant.. and the Griffins announcers can’t pronounce Ads names correctly.)
Thoughts on this game? Will there be more fireworks tomorrow night? Will Joonas Rask’s goal be a lift for his game? How do you feel Scott Darling played in this game? Is it positive to see the team stick up for one-another through fights or would you rather see the team avoid drawing additional penalties?