The Admirals lost 4-3 in a shootout against the Utica Comets Sunday afternoon. A late goal from Francis Wathier pushed this road game into overtime but the Comets went 3-2 in five rounds of the shootout to take home the extra point.
“I thought both teams played hard,” said assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “We had an unfortunate couple of bounces but we were resilient. Showed some real good poise as a group to get a point.”
After a Kent Huskins cross-checking minor, the Admirals used their opening power-play to crash the net and get the opener just as time had expired on the man advantage. Vinny Saponari was in the right spot in front of the net to dump the puck past Joacim Eriksson for his fourteenth goal of the season.
“Since Vinny has come up from Cincinnati he has done a fantastic job,” said Drulia. “We had a big debate at the end of the exhibition schedule whether he was going to make our hockey team or not. Right now, he’s done everything he can to stay in our lineup. He is a regular now. His game has come so far as this season has progressed and the credit goes to his determination to get back here and be a factor.”
In the opening period there was a fight between Anthony Bitetto and Brandon DeFazio. The fight stirred from a hit by Bitetto on former Admiral Cal O’Reilly. DeFazio took exception, jumped in, and the two engaged.
Compare that situation to the second period when the exact same situation happens in reverse. Darren Archibald hit Josh Shalla hard in front of the Comets’ bench, Scott Ford took exception, the two fought, and the officials gave an extra roughing minor to Ford for the altercation. Why? I’m not sure if the officials even know why.
Only ten seconds into that Ford roughing minor the Comets found an equalizing goal from the power-play. They managed to win the face off and Frank Corrado’s shot to the net was deflected by Alexandre Grenier past Scott Darling to make it a 1-1 game. The goal for Grenier was his seventeenth scored this season.
The Admirals did answer back with a goal of their own in the second period – thanks to a brilliant individual effort from Mathieu Tousignant. The master of all things chirping jumped up at the blue line, gloved a puck down to himself, and was in on Eriksson with a mini-break. Tousignant beat him to the glove side to restore the Admirals lead and pick up his sixth goal of the season.
Archibald created the Comets second goal of the game in the third with a great outlet pass that found David Marshall. Once he was in the zone he turned to Pascal Pelletier who beat Darling to the glove on the short-side for his fourteenth goal of the season.
Following a Charles-Olivier Roussel interference call – the Comets managed to score their second power-play goal of the game. DeFazio was set up in the high slot and wired a puck past Darling to give the Comets a 3-2 lead from his fourteenth goal this season.
Francis Wathier was able to earn the Admirals an equalizer with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. Austin Watson made a strong play behind the net that set up Wathier on a wrister for his seventh goal of the season and second goal since joining the Admirals from the Texas Stars. Watson now has a seven game point streak: two goals and five assists.
“We liked [Austin Watson] on the wing,” said Drulia. “[Dean Evason] and I have talked about it and he has been a real good winger the last little while.”
The Admirals survived a last second penalty in regulation that spilled into overtime – and worked their way to a shootout.
After an ice delay, the Admirals shot first with Tousignant who scored fivehole on Eriksson. Pelletier was able to answer straight back with a forehander. After misses from Beck and Saponari, Miikka Salomaki was able to level the score at 2-2 in the shootout after scoring backhander to the stickside. With the Admirals shooting first – this meant Darling needed a save to keep the shootout level heading into round five. Marshall beat Darling off the crossbar and down – in what would be the game-winning goal following a failed attempt from Wathier.
“Pretty good,” said Drulia of his assessment of the weekend. “Obviously, we didn’t like the way we played Friday but big game yesterday – big effort again today. If we can find a way to get a win in Rochester we’re going to put ourselves in a good spot here.”
Ramblings: Before the game, Filip Forsberg was recalled to the Nashville Predators and the Admirals recalled Josh Shalla and Paul Crowder from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Both Shalla and Crowder started today’s game – Zach Budish was listed as the lone healthy scratch. Joonas Jarvinen, Simon Moser, and Michael Young – are out with injury.
Thoughts on the game today? All things considered, was this still a good result for the Admirals? Can the days off before the Rochester game set them up for a strong finish to this four-game road trip?