The Admirals won 8-3 against the Rockford IceHogs Friday night. It was another great offensive display for the Ads that was highlighted by the debut of Calle Jarnkrok – who picked up pair of goals in his first game in the Nashville Predators system.
“We thought we did a lot of right things early in the hockey game to give ourselves the chance to be up,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason following the game. “You don’t expect to score eighth goals but we did a lot of good things for sure.”
The game would eventual spiral into a very toxic game – stirred by two cheap shots delivered by the IceHogs that injured both Patrick Cehlin and Simon Moser. The game had 12 fighting majors assessed and a combined 108 penalty minutes. Both Cehlin and Moser are expected to be out long-term following this game.
“We think they’re terrible,” said Evason in regards to the hits against Cehlin and Moser. “Yeah, the game is out of hand – but I just don’t think you go seeking people out regardless of if it’s to the head, or if it’s high, or he leaves his feet. That’s for the league to determine. I just don’t like the factor that people are seeking people out with the intent to hurt them in a game like that. The game should be played the same way.”
The Admirals earned the opening power-play of the game after a holding call against Alex Broadhurst. The unit of Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, Taylor Beck, Filip Forsberg, and Bryan Rodney hit the ice – and the team’s structure on the man-advantage looked rather the same with the inclusion of Jarnkrok. Rodney at the center of the blue line, Forsberg at the top of the left wing faceoff circle, Beck on the opposite circle, and Sissons and Jarnkrok jamming up the middle. After a set up from Beck – Sissons took a half-slapper from between the circles and was rewarded with his team best twenty-first goal of the season.
In the second period the Admirals were able to strike for their second power-play goal of the game. A terrible turnover on the penalty kill from Theo Peckham trickled out in front of the net. There to pick up the loose puck was Vinny Saponari – who then deked Kent Simpson out of position before scoring on the forehand. It’s Saponari’s twelfth goal of the season.
The next goal for the Admirals came even strength. A solid shot by Mathieu Tousignant in the slot spilled to the side of Simpson. There to crash the rebound was Miikka Salomaki who pushed the puck in from the right wing side of the net and in for his thirteenth goal of the season.
There was plenty of focus put on Jarnkrok’s Admirals debut tonight – but the center that took the show tonight was Sissons. It seemed like he was playing at the work rate and speed of Salomaki tonight all while being in the perfect spot on the ice to do damage. Case and point: the Admirals third power-play goal of the game. The Ads won the faceoff, Forsberg passed over to Rodney – who one-timed it, the puck bashed off of Simpson’s pads, and Sissons was all alone in front of the net for the rebound effort and his twenty-second of the season – and second goal of the game from the power-play.
Marek Mazanec’s shutout bid ended after a second period goal from the IceHogs on the power-play. The fault here could be pinned to Mazanec who was overly aggressive on a skipping puck that was played close to the net between Garrett Ross and Mark McNeill. Mazanec was far from his cage when Ross settled the puck down – and it was as easy of a goal as he will score all season. It goes down as his fourteenth goal of the season.
It wouldn’t be the last piece of action from the second period, either. After Mike Liambas made a fantastic stop while skating back on defense – the counter rush by the Admirals saw Patrick Cehlin wielding the puck with Tousignant racing in on the opposite side wing. Cehlin’s pass from right wing to left was perfect. All Tousignant needed was a bit of elevation on his tap in to beat a sliding Simpson. It’s Tousignant’s fourth goal of the season and first goal since 1/16/14 @ San Antonio.
Jarnkrok made sure to make his debut with the Milwaukee Admirals memorable and did so in the third period while shorthanded. After generating a turnover in neutral ice he managed to skate clean of the Jeremy Morin, pulled forehand to backhand, and beat Simpson over the blocker for his fourteenth goal of the season and first as an Admiral.
“Calle Jarnkrok is a quality player,” said Evason following the game. “You don’t give up a player like David Legwand and not get a quality player. So it certainly helped.”
The IceHogs responded with their second power-play goal of the game just under three minutes later. A great feed from Drew LeBlanc, as he skated around the left wing corner, flew to just above the hashmarks where Brandon Mashinter was waiting to strike. His shot snuck through traffic and Mazanec for his eleventh goal of the season.
After another great play from the Admirals, generating defense directly into offense, Moser was taken down on a breakaway and awarded with a penalty shot. Off of his penalty shot Moser swung wide and looked to sneak a shot past the five hole of Simpson. His shot hit him on the left pad – no goal.
Then came the rough stuff. Where the game all gets out of hand starts with Brad Mills targeting Patrick Cehlin in the attacking end for the Ads. Cehlin never saw him coming – and Mills blatantly targeted him with a forearm to his head. Cehlin remained down on the ice for a long time and required the assistance of athletic trainer Doug Agnew to leave the ice.
“I’m not going to comment on if they’re suspendable or not – that’s not our call,” said Evason. “I guess, as an ex-player, you get what they are doing but you are going out looking to hurt another guy. The fights you can likely deal with. You ask a guy to fight and he either accepts it or doesn’t. But to actually blindside people – I don’t think it is the right way to play the game.”
Mills wasn’t assessed with a penalty for the illegal check to the head.
That meant the Admirals Judicial System took center stage with Mike Liambas squaring off with Mills. It would be the first of two altercations between the two following the Cehlin incident. Next, Scott Ford dropped the gloves with Mashinter. It was only the beginning of a roller coaster finish to the game.
When all was said and done from those fights – the Admirals had a power-play and their debutant had an answer. The Ads passed around the zone rather casually before handing the puck off to Jarnkrok. His finish on the wrister torched Simpson to the roof of the net and gave him a two-goal night on his debut, extending his season total to fifteen goals, and pushing the score up to 7-2 Admirals.
“It was great,” said Calle Jarnkrok of his Admirals debut. “I think we played good the whole game and it was easy for me to fit in. I’m very happy to be here.”
With the game miles out of reach, the league’s newly crowned player of the month Jeremy Morin went toe-to-toe with Anthony Bitetto. Morin’s thirteen-game point steak came to an end in this game and, in hindsight, he probably should have left it at that. Bitetto hit him so flush to the face he knocked Morin’s mouthguard loose.
Clear win for the Admirals in the fight department – just as was reflected on the scoreboard. Perhaps that set the stage and was the answer for the incident that followed.
Moser was racing through the neutral zone when he received another high impact, high to the body hit from the IceHogs. The man responsible for delivering the blow to Moser was Bobby Shea – who was then greeted by no less than three Admirals players who all had their gloves off. It was a line brawl.
“We play them [again] tomorrow,” said Mathieu Tousignant. “So I expect the guys to step up for each other. Mike Liambas did a great job. Scott Valentine. Scott Ford. Charles-Olivier Roussel. All those guys all stepped up for each other. We need to stick together. I think we did a great job of that.”
Both goalies skated out towards their respective blue lines together and, for awhile, not much was going in that department. Then Mazanec gave a little wave, Simpson gave a bigger wave, and the two were off. Mazanec tossed his mask aside ready to brawl at center ice. Both goalies crossed paths on the center faceoff dot – but the officials cut them off before contact could even be made between the two.
“I was laughing all the time, smiled Marek Mazanec about his near-fight. “I just tried to have some fun and make some fun for people here.”
“Of course,” said Taylor Beck when asked if Mazanec would have won the goalie fight. “He’s from the Czech Republic he knows what he’s doing. That’d have been fun to see.”
After that dust settled – an IceHogs goal from the power-play was added to the frenzy. A shot rang off of the post and spilled into the path of the recently acquired, former Iowa Wild d-man, Brian Connelly. He was able to get a shot by a diving Mazanec to get the IceHogs their third goal of the game – and third from the power-play.
There were twenty-seconds remaining in the contest. Just for good measure, Vinny Saponari teed up Tousignant for his second-goal of the game to finish the laughable 8-3 scoreline for the Admirals. Saponari patiently scooted towards the back of the net and pushed a saucer pass to the center lane drive of Tousignant – who just got his blade on the puck for his fifth goal of the season.
The game ended with two more fights. Liambas and Mills, round two. Scott Valentine then rocked the daylights out of Shea. They weren’t ejected for their hits to Cehlin or Moser – but the Admirals continue to prove they are not one to be shoved around. Everyone sticks up for everyone on the Admirals roster. Despite the injuries, that was the statement made from the Admirals tonight against a divisional opponent that they needed to take points from. They did just that and have the opportunity tomorrow, against these same IceHogs, to claw back more crucial points.
I expect Rockford’s phone to be busy with calls from the league office tomorrow morning. It wouldn’t be the first time an IceHogs player would be suspended for illegally hitting opponents of the Admirals to the head either. Theo Peckham was given a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Simon Moser on 2/22/14.
Ramblings: Scott Ford played in his 350th game tonight with the Milwaukee Admirals. Mark Van Guilder passed Kelsey Wilson on the Admirals AHL games played list tonight by playing in his 295th for the Ads.
What are your thoughts from this game? What will the suspensions be from this game? How did Calle Jarnkrok look in game number one with the Admirals?