The Admirals lost 5-4 in a shootout against the San Antonio Rampage Thursday night. This game was all over the place: Ads trailed 2-0 early, came back to tie things up at 2-2, took the lead at 4-3, and then lost in the shootout with starter Magnus Hellberg getting injured late in OT forcing the Ads debut of Hannu Toivonen in net. Silver lining: by earning a point on the road tonight the Ads are now tied for second in the division with the Chicago Wolves.
The Ads started the game by earning an early power-play chance only eighteen-seconds into the game. Sadly, they just were not able to capitalize off of it and the Rampage came off of the kill flying. 4:06 after the Ads power-play expired the home-side earned a chance of their own from a Mike Liambas boarding call. The result was a deflected goal from Joey Crabb for San Antonio’s first power-play goal against Milwaukee in ten chances over three games.
The pressure stayed on and Wade Megan stepped into the attacking zone and roofed a shot to the shortside over Magnus Hellberg’s shoulder to make it 2-0 Rampage. It was Megan’s fourth goal of the season.
2:31 after the Megan goal it was the “Soft Hands, Hard Hands” line of Liambas-Tousignant-Rask pulling back a goal to make it a 2-1 game. After some solid forecheck work, including a hit from Joonas Rask in the right wing pocket, the puck came free to Liambas at the right trapezoid line and he delivered a backhanded pass in front of the net. This teed up Mathieu Tousignant for a goal against his ex-team in San Antonio for his third goal of the season.
The second period had a real momentum swing to start the frame. Joonas Jarvinen and Vinny Saponari both took hooking penalties to give the Rampage a very brief 5-3 power-play opportunity. The Ads were able to kill off both chances and charged forward for an equalizing goal so soon after the Rampage man-advantage. The play by Austin Watson was instrumental in setting this goal up. He skated in from the ring wing and delivered a very hard low wrist shot on Jacob Markstrom. The puck ricocheted off his pads and right to Kevin Henderson who took care of the rebound for his fifth goal of the season and his fiftieth career point as an Admiral.
A boarding call on Jarvinen set the backdrop on the Rampage’s second power-play goal of the game. Taylor Beck actually was denied on a shorthanded breakaway just before this play happened down at the other end. Again, momentum swings a plenty out of the transition game tonight: attack one way – attack the other way – repeat. The goal by Crabb was a bomb from the slot for his second of the game on the power-play and sixth of the season. In his career, Crabb has scored fifteen points (four goals, eleven assists) in thirty-three games against the Admirals.
To start the third period there was a goaltending change by the Rampage. Markstrom gave way to the ex-Checker Rob Madore. No word on any sort of injury to Markstrom but one has to assume that’s the lone reason a change was made.
Looking to get the jump on the cold netminder, the Ads quickly pounced to attack and earned a power-play inside the opening minute of the period. On the first shot that Madore faced the Ads scored a goal on the man-advantage from Taylor Beck. A cross ice pass from the Olympian Simon Moser set him up for his eleventh goal of the season to make it 3-3.
Moser responded with a goal of his own a few minutes later to give the Admirals their first lead of the game. The play went under review after Moser’s shot hit post and knuckled down. It would hold up to the microscope and the Ads lead 4-3. With the assist on that goal – Taylor Beck moved past Scottie Upshall for thirteenth on Ads all-time AHL scoring with 106 points.
Then perhaps the game’s backbreaker. Just forty-one seconds after earning the lead the Ads conceded a goal that tied the game back up at 4-4. There was a big scrum in front Hellberg in net and Bobby Butler was able to find the loose puck and pop it in for his twelfth goal of the season.
The game would go into overtime. Scott Valentine nearly cost the Ads by taking a swipe to the back of the head of Vincent Trocheck – earning a roughing penalty in the early stages of the OT period. The Ads were able to kill off the penalty and last through OT but not without some bad news.
After another net front scramble, Magnus Hellberg injured his right leg as he sprawled out of the net. He needed some assistance, stayed in the game momentarily, but with four-seconds remaining in the OT period gave way to Admiral debutant Hannu Toivonen. The twenty-nine year old Fin was a former first-overall draft choice by the Boston Bruins and this was his first appearance in the AHL since the 2010-11 season with the Rockford IceHogs.
The game went to a shootout. Both starting goalies, in a nutshell, injured. Back up goalies in. Away they went. There wasn’t a goal until the fourth round when Rampage’s Trocheck beat Toivonen off the crossbar and down. The Rampage did have a chance in the final round to cap it but Toivonen stopped Denny Urban and gave the Ads hope. Miikka Salomaki scored off of a forehanded shot to force sudden death in the shootout. Logan Shaw beat Toivonen to the five hole off of a forehand shot. And Moser’s forehanded effort went begging to give the Rampage a shootout victory – their second over the Ads in San Antonio this season.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Will we be seeing Marek Mazanec back in an Admirals sweater come Saturday night? How do you feel the Ads can do without Hellberg or Darling – if both are out for an extended period of time? Will the Ads lose a forward in the near future, Forsberg or Beck?