The Admirals won 3-2 in overtime against the Iowa Wild Friday night. The Ads held a 2-0 lead in the third period only to see the Wild race back and push this game into overtime. With fifty-seconds remaining in OT, Bryan Rodney produced the goods to end the Ads two-game losing skid overall and six-game losing skid on the road.
“It was a pretty good hockey game,” said Assistant Coach Stan Drulia on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP after the game. “Obviously we’re pretty happy we found a way to get it done in overtime. Not crazy that we gave up a two-goal lead again here. But, a win on the road – and it’s a big win for our group.”
Austin Watson opened the scoring in this one to give the Admirals a 1-0 first period lead. Kevin Henderson made a pass from behind the net to Watson on the right wing faceoff circle. His sniper of a wrist shot beat Johan Gustafsson over the far shoulder for Watson’s eleventh goal of the season.
After a slow and methodical second period it didn’t take that long for the action to explode in the third. Just 1:32 into the final period of regulation the Admirals extended their lead. Miikka Salomaki’s shot zipped through a hefty net front screen of Vinny Saponari and two Wild defenseman to beat Gustafsson. The goal would be credited to Saponari after the game after a confirmed deflection. For Saponari, it is his eighth goal of the season.
“[Salomaki] managed the puck real well tonight,” said Drulia. “He works hard. That’s his DNA. You get him into these situations where you want meat and potatoes – you want hard work along the boards. You look at some of the scrums that he’s been in throughout the year. He goes to those hard areas.”
Then came the pressure from Iowa. After Marek Mazanec recorded his first ever AHL game without conceding a goal in the opening two periods – the Wild roared back with two unanswered goals to tie the game.
The shutout bid for Mazanec ended after a heavy slap shot from Carson McMillan. The shot beat Mazanec low to the glove side and made it a 2-1 game. Then, with just 5:12 remaining in regulation, a defensive lapse for the Admirals put Jim McKenzie in front of goal with tons of space to set up shop. Mazanec was able to disrupt the initial chance but McKenzie bashed in his own rebound before the defense could close him down.
The game rolled into overtime – which has not been kind at all to the Admirals this season. The Ads lead the entire AHL with six overtime defeats this season and were fresh off of the one to the Rockford IceHogs. With fifty-seconds remaining in OT, enter Bryan Rodney and a game-winning goal that ended the Admirals two-game skid overall and six-game road losing streak. Rodney, creeping in from the right wing, was picked out by Salomaki. The shot near the slot beat Gustafsson for Rodney’s third goal of the season. The Ads have yet to lose against the Iowa Wild in five meetings this season.
Patrick Cehlin returned to the lineup tonight for his first game since 11/3/13 @ Iowa. In tonight’s game he was a -1 with two shots on goal. With his goal tonight Austin Watson now has thirty-one career goals as an Admiral – which ranks him twenty-third in the AHL history of the team with Andrew Hutchinson and former linemate Juuso Puustinen. Tonight’s lone scratch was forward Zach Budish. The team dressed seven defensemen and rotated a wing spot on a line with Henderson and Watson throughout the night.