The Admirals capped off the 2013 calendar with a 4-0 shutout against the Iowa Wild Sunday afternoon. For the third time this season, second in Iowa, Scott Darling produced a shutout to provide the backdrop for an equally as impressive offensive night for the Ads.
The game opened with a taste of the opening meeting of the season between the Admirals and Wild: five for fighting. Mathieu Tousignant fought Carson McMillian. Mike Liambas scrapped it out with Jake Dowell. This was the third time these two teams have met this season and, already, there have been a combined five fights and a sum of 122 combined penalty minutes.
The Ads broke through in the first period from Colton Sissons team best twelfth goal of the season. Vinny Saponari was able to tee up his fellow rookie on the opposite post to give the Ads the game’s opening goal.
After a roughing call against Corbin Baldwin – the Ads answered within seconds on the power-play. The Ads won the face off, controlled, and Bryan Rodney zipped onto the tape of “Mr. Power-Play” Anthony Bitetto for his ninth goal of the season – and sixth goal scored on the power-play.
The time between the Ads opener from Sissons to the PPG for Bitetto was a mere fifty-three seconds apart. What’s more shocking than that was how badly outshot they were while doing it. Prior to the goal from Sissons the Wild outshot the Ads 8-1 in over twelve minutes of the first period. After Bitetto’s goal the Ads led 2-0 on four shots on goal.
In the second period the shots kept pouring in on Scott Darling – twenty-four shots through the opening forty minutes. The Wild had four chances on the power-play in the second period alone. Despite those opportunities for Iowa to make a dent against the Ads with the man-advantage they were not able to solve the penalty kill. The Wild went 0/5 on the power-play in this game. The Admirals penalty kill is now 18/19 in their last five games.
Despite their opponent’s woes on the man-advantage, the Ads special teams continued to shine with more success on the power-play. This go-round Vinny Saponari came up trumps with his third goal of the season. Saponari was stationed on the wall, skated in on the left faceoff dot, and fired past Iowa netminder Johan Gustafsson for a goal.
The last bit of damage from the Admirals offense came from rebound work in front of the net. Joe Piskula’s shot from the point rebounded to Kevin Henderson – his follow up shot was spilled loose – and the puck fell to Austin Watson who was able to backhand the rebound by Gustafsson for his eighth goal of the season.
Yet again, the quiet hero of this game is Scott Darling between the pipes. He made thirty-three saves in his third shutout of the season. His month of December is just extraordinary: he has played in eight games, made seven starts, has a record of 6-1-0-0, has allowed 1.12 goals a game, has a 0.964 SV%, and two shutouts. If the AHL is wise, they’d do well to recognize his efforts for the month. It has been fantastic work from him in net.
Thoughts on this game? Is it just me or is Scott Darling making this eventual goaltending situation, when Pekka Rinne returns, that much more intriguing? What do you make of the Ads through the 2013 side of the calendar – positives/negatives?