The Admirals lost 2-1 against the Chicago Wolves Saturday night. The undoing to this game came in the opening minute of the second period when the Wolves scored two goals from two Bryan Rodney turnovers. Credit where credit is due, the defensive game the Wolves played tonight was tough for the Ads to crack – and AHL All Star netminder Jake Allen’s twenty-five save performance only backed that up.
It was a rather slow start for both teams – the Ads in particular. After ten minutes the shots were four to one in the Wolves favor and the lone Ads shot was a long range dump in the forced Jake Allen to paddle the puck aside.
Where the Ads period appeared to pick up was after a Mike Liambas hit at center ice which set loose his linemates Mathieu Tousignant and Joonas Rask. The hit freed the puck. Tousignant raced it in and fed to Rask who almost marked his return to the ice with a crafty sliding backhand shot. He tried working Allen to the five-hole but received nothing but pad.
The Ads responded just after that shift with a power-play goal from Vinny Saponari. This goal was really created once the puck settled on the tape of Anthony Bitetto’s stick. He was on the right wing door step of Allen’s net and held it long enough that the All Star goalie became impatient. The shot from Bitetto came after Allen was way out of position. The eventual puck scramble went to Saponari who floated the puck into an open net for his fourth goal of the season.
Bryan Rodney’s start to the second period was one to forget. He turned the puck over twice to tee up two goals by the Wolves in the space of fifty-seconds to turn a first period lead into a second period deficit fast.
Dmitrij Jaskin was able to pick Rodney’s pocket and pop a backhander past Magnus Hellberg to level the game at 1-1 twenty-one seconds into the second period. After the Ads picked up a power-play it was again Rodney who set up a Wolves goal. The Ads like setting up their power-play unit with a defenseman atop the middle of the blue line, forwards on the wall, and one on the goal mouth. The puck alluded Rodney who then awkwardly swatted at it to turn Keith Aucoin on a shorthanded breakaway. The veteran Aucoin buried the shorty and, in a blink, give the Wolves a 2-1 lead.
Despite a late rush with an extra attacker on, featuring multiple offensive zone face offs, the scoreline would stay 2-1 to the Amtrak Rivals. The Wolves are now 4-0-0-1 against the Ads this season with Aucoin scoring the game-winning goal in the last two meetings. Every single Amtrak Rivalry game has been decided by one-goal. Of the two games in the rivalry that didn’t spill into overtime: both have been Admirals home defeats. This one more than most is a tale of what could have been. Two goals in fifty-seconds. That was the sucker punch that cost the Ads tonight.
Joonas Rask returned to the lineup for his first game since injuring his right shoulder 12/20/13 vs. San Antonio. Tonight the healthy scratches included Zach Budish and Scott Valentine. Still out injured is Patrick Cehlin who missed his 26th straight game with an undisclosed injury. Magnus Hellberg made his first consecutive starts in net since 11/27/13 @ Rockford and 11/30/13 @ Charlotte. Ads d-man Charles-Olivier Roussel was caught with a high stick tonight and required eight stitches to his left eyebrow – after the game he told me you could see bone. Naturally he played the rest of the game.