The Admirals won 6-5 in a shootout against the Rockford IceHogs Friday night. It wasn’t as physically destructive as last weekend – but it was one heck of a game to watch.
“We knew that they were going to come hard at us,” said Calle Jarnkrok. “We beat them pretty big two times. Great battle today. Good win for us. Big win.”
The game was fairly wide open from the first period forwards, saw many quick response goals, and trucked into the shootout where the Admirals took the final point after a Vinny Saponari game-winner.
Marek Mazanec stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout to win his first career shootout on North American ice. In the game he stopped twenty-four of twenty-nine shots on goal for his twelfth win of the season.
Francis Wathier scored his first career goal as an Admiral to kick off a first period that saw seven-combined goals. Mark Van Guilder tied up with Terry Broadhurst in the low left wing and caused the puck to flip up. When it settled back down on the ice Wathier was in a shooting position and smacked it by Jason LaBarbera for his sixth goal of the season.
“It was nice to get the first [goal],” said Francis Wathier. “You always want to help your new team to succeed. To get the first one – was a little bit over-excited but that’s how much I wanted that one.”
The IceHogs managed to score the next two goals off of the tape of Jeremy Morin. His first goal of the night came from a left wing drive where he barreled in on Marek Mazanec and coolly slid the puck between the wickets. On his second of the night, he was able to cash in on one-timer on the power-play following a Mathieu Tousignant faceoff violation. Morin now has twenty-four goals on the season – five of which came against the Admirals
The Ads responded thirty-three seconds after the second Morin goal with a beauty of a passing play. Wathier dropped the puck behind him as he entered the zone to Anthony Bitetto. Mark Van Guilder was working his way down the slot – and was greeted by a phenomenal shot pass at the blue line from Bitetto. It was begging for a redirection to goal – something Van Guilder did with ease for his eleventh goal of the season.
Brad Mills, the pest from last weekend’s festivities, picked up a goal for the IceHogs following a sloppy shift from the Admirals in their own zone. Scott Ford and Scott Valentine were both in scramble mode following failed clearances – and it put Mills right between then for his fourth goal of the season.
The Admirals were able to equalize and claim a late first period lead after successive goals in the span of seventeen seconds.
Patrick Cehlin marked his return to the ice with a power-play goal. LaBarbera allowed a rebound to get away from him and, after much grinding on the side of the net, Cehlin was able to squeeze the puck past the veteran netminder for his fifth goal of the season.
“I felt good,” said Patrick Cehlin on his return to the ice. “I was a little bit out of shape but I got to play with two great guys. So, it was easy coming in. It felt good.”
Only seventeen seconds later, an Austin Watson pass found Taylor Beck all alone in front of LaBarbera. Beck actually seemed to freeze in front of the net – but had the time and space to get a shot off. It might not have gone in, but LaBarbera’s initial save gave Vinny Saponari plenty of net to shoot on as he belted in the rebound for his thirteenth goal of the season.
“I can’t even remember it,” laughed Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason about the wild first period. “My gosh, we were just reeling. We were up. We were down. Up. Down. Emotionally we were all over the place.”
In the second period the IceHogs were able to equalize from an impossible angle shot. Joakim Nordstrom was skating down the left wing wall, almost right in the corner, and tossed a puck to the net. It appeared to catch Mazanec off guard and he allowed the puck to jump up and by him to make it a 4-4 game. It was Nordstrom’s sixteenth goal of the season.
Calle Jarnkrok was able to net his fourth goal against the IceHogs in a week at the start of the third period. Filip Forsberg found his fellow Swede all alone on the left wing faceoff circle, fed him, and Jarnkrok’s wrister beat LaBarbera far post and down. It’s his seventeenth goal of the season – and he now has six since becoming an Admiral.
The IceHogs were able to score yet another lightning quick power-play goal to level the game at 5-5. Following the faceoff win, Adam Clendening’s point shot took a redirection by Mills for his second goal of the game.
After some really open hockey to finish off the third period, and overtime, the game required the shootout.
Milwaukee chose to shoot first and put Tousignant out for the opening attempt. It was Patrick Kane-like on the stickhandling. No joke.
“[Mathieu Tousignant] is cocky enough,” said Evason on selecting Tousignant first in the shootout. “He doesn’t care where he is. What he is doing. He has confidence that he is going to score a goal. That’s what we love about him.”
That set the stage for a Mazanec save followed by a Beck shootout goal – swinging from the left wing and softly placing a shot against the grain on the near post.
Mazanec, never having won a shootout on North American ice, did not allow allowed an IceHogs goal during the shootout.
Having seen Jarnkrok’s bid at ending the game after three shooters go bust – followed by another Mazanec save – it was up to Vinny Saponari to deliver the goods. He skated in, pumped, and went underneath LaBarbera to finish off a fantastic game in the Admirals favor.
What do you take from this game? How are the newbies, Calle Jarnkrok and Francis Wathier, looking the more the settle in?