The Admirals won 3-1 against the Rockford IceHogs Tuesday night. The Ads moved one step closer to punching their ticket into the 2014 Calder Cup playoffs on the strength of a penalty kill unit that was a perfect six for six tonight. Colton Sissons also made his mark in his return from Nashville with a power-play goal that finished off the scoring in tonight’s game.
“I felt like we were kind of hanging on there for a long time,” said Sissons. “We obviously had some calls that we didn’t exactly like but we also took some silly penalties. It’s tough. It wears you down – mentally and physically. We were hanging on there and we needed a goal to separate ourselves a little bit. I was fortunate enough to find the back door and [Taylor Beck] found me.”
It took just eleven seconds in this game before we saw Milwaukee Admirals history. Mike Liambas took a slashing penalty shortly after the opening draw. This gave him an Admirals AHL record for most penalty minutes in a single season with 267. The previous record was 266 penalty minutes by Jordin Tootoo during the 2004-05 season.
Unfortunately for Liambas he did not return to the game following his penalty. He appeared to awkwardly finish off a check as the delayed penalty was on at the start of the game. It was unclear as to what he may have injured – but the Admirals played a forward short for effectively the entire game.
The Ads picked up the opening goal with under two minutes remaining in the first period. Francis Wathier was skating down the right wing and dropped a puck off behind him for Mathieu Tousignant. With Wathier still up ice – it gave Tousignant the space to fake a shot, move towards the slot, and slide the puck underneath Jason LaBarbera for his seventh goal of the season.
“I don’t know what else you can say about that guy,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of Tousignant. “He’s a hockey player. That’s what you have to say about him. Yes, he gets under people’s skin but he kills penalties for us, scores goals for us, scores shootouts. He just plays the game. He doesn’t care where he plays – he just wants to play hockey. That’s pretty refreshing.”
In the second period Bryan Rodney scored an outstanding goal for his fifth of the season. The veteran puck moving d-man faked out two IceHogs with two fake wind ups on a slap shot, moved in on goal, and finally let that slapper loose to beat LaBarbera to make it 2-0 Admirals. The primary assist on the play went to Jonathan Diaby – who was making his professional hockey debut tonight.
Marek Mazanec lost his shutout bid in the third period following a goal from Mark McNeill. Pat Mullane made a wrap-around move, left wing to right wing, and passed out in front to Stephen Johns. The blueliner fired to the net and the luck was redirected by McNeill for his eighteenth goal of the season.
With the IceHogs continuing to buzz around the Admirals defensive zone – Brad Mills was given an interference minor that the Ads quickly turned into a power-play goal. Colton Sissons, fresh from his one month stay with the Nashville Predators, scored his twenty-fifth goal of the season after a great pass by Taylor Beck picked him out in the low left wing circle. It was a tight shooting angle but, with the pass from Beck, Sissons had the time to catch, measure, and beat LaBarbera to re-establish the Ads two-goal lead.
The game would end by the scoreline of 3-1. It is only the second time this season that Mazanec has accomplished that feat in net. He stopped twenty-six of twenty-seven shots on goal and was quite possibly the team’s best penalty killer tonight. The Admirals kill unit was a perfect six-for-six in tonight’s victory.
“We thought we held our composure,” said Evason. “Some of the penalties are our responsibility. It was a tough game for the penalty kill and they came through.”
Ramblings: Jonathan Diaby made his professional debut tonight. He recently finished up his junior career with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. Tonight’s unhealthy scratches included: Mark Van Guilder, Simon Moser, Scott Ford, and Scott Valentine. The healthy scratches consisted of: Joe Pendenza, Mikko Vainonen, and Kirill Gotovets. Celebrity Corbin Bernsen took a massive airborne spill during the second intermission. He was attempting to throw a puck into the net baseball style and lost his footing. He appeared on the jumbotron, bandage on the back of his head, near the end of the game. Still not sure what he was thinking – but he seemed to still be having fun regardless.
Thoughts on tonight’s win? What impressed you the most from tonight’s game? What was Corbin Bernsen thinking?