The Admirals picked up a 3-1 win on the road against the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night. Despite conceding the opening goal of the IceHogs, another strong performance for the second consecutive night in net by Scott Darling – along with three unanswered goals – meant the Ads were able to pick up some valuable points on the road against a division rival. The men doing the damage on goal tonight were Miikka Salomaki, Scott Ford, and Simon Moser. Again, those goals all came without reply. Tip that cap to Mr. Darling.
Rockford was able to open the scoring up after a tripping call against Mark Van Guilder. The shot from the point by Brett Skinner was blocked in front of Scott Darling by d-man Joonas Jarvinen. Before anyone could react against the downed puck off Jarvinen – Joakim Nordstrom was able to direct the puck by Darling to make it 1-0.
The second period saw its share of shots: fifteen shots for the Ads and thirteen shots for the IceHogs in the frame. Both goalies were really sharp to open of the game. IceHogs’ Kent Simpson in particular looked locked in through two-periods.
With just fifty-seconds remaining in the second period the Ads finally managed to get a pick behind Simpson to level the game at 1-1. Colton Sissons was able to fire a shot on net – to which Simpson tried pushing it into an open corner. That “open corner” was occupied by Miikka Salomaki who tagged the puck for his sixth goal of the season.
With the start of the third period the Ads immediately carried on. Scott Ford scored his second goal of the season in the opening minute of the period to give the Ads a quick 2-1 lead. There was a great screen in front of Simpson by Van Guilder and Ford was able to wire his shot through traffic to give the Ads their second goal in 1:42 of ice time.
After the Ford goal, the third period saw lots of penalties taken at inopportune times for both the Ads and IceHogs. As a results there were plenty of power-play chances that ended just about as they started, four-on-four hockey, an abbreviated power-play, and repeat.
That’s where the nail in the coffin comes in.
With just thirty-five seconds of an abbreviated power-play coming – the Ads quickly raced up ice and delivered with a goal. Austin Watson managed to power his way towards goal and set up Simon Moser for his fifth goal of the season – and first since 11/22 vs. CHI.
The game went into cruise control from there. It was yet another victorious thirty-four save performance in net for Scott Darling. It might have been a bit of a surprise to see Darling get tipped for tonight’s game over Magnus Hellberg, but I think last night’s effort for him begged for two-games out of this weekend’s three-in-three. Darling repays the team with his fifth win of the season – and continues to play great in net for the Ads.
Other notes for this game: Anthony Bitetto was absent from this game due to an illness. It isn’t clear if he will come back and play in tomorrow’s game or not. That should be made clearer closer to the pre-game skate. Also absent were Patrick Cehlin, Mike Liambas, and Joonas Rask. Cehlin hasn’t played since the start of November – and isn’t expected back anytime soon. Mike Liambas was dinged up in the rough and tumble series against Grand Rapids. The expectation is for him to also be absent for tomorrow’s game. Rask missed his first game of the season after sustaining a nasty hit from Steve Pinizzotto last night against the Rampage. No word on the longevity of his absence, but he missed his first game of the year as a result of that boarding call in last night’s home game.
That meant, for as stacked as camp looked yesterday, the team was actually just able to squeeze out a lineup tonight. Unfortunately, Scott Valentine appeared to pick up an injury to his left leg or foot in the middle of tonight’s game when crashing into the boards. He did not return and its unknown what that could mean as far as tomorrow’s game in Chicago is concerned. Perhaps chicken noodle soup is in order for Bitetto to fill in Valentine’s spot.
Thoughts on tonight’s win? How about this Darling kid? Despite injuries, does a result like this make you feel comfortable about the team’s depth? What can we expect from the Ads tomorrow against the Amtrak Rivals?