The Admirals won 4-1 against the Chicago Wolves Saturday night. Austin Watson was front and center in this installment of the Amtrak Rivalry. He scored the teddy bear toss goal and scored two more to get the hats flying in the Admirals first regulation win against the Wolves this season
Jonathan Diaby recorded his first fight as a pro hockey player tonight. He squared up with recent Wolves signing Yannick Veilleux. It wasn’t a lengthy bout. Not nearly as exciting as you would have hoped the big man Diaby’s first fight would have been. Still, he and Veilleux did each other a favor with this one. I’m certain both are trying to make a quick impression.
The first period finished with a flurry of open ice activity. Filip Forsberg was turned loose on a breakaway against Wolves netminder Matt Climie. The shot was pushed wide but, shortly after the clearance, Austin Watson and Forsberg raced right back in on a two-on-one. Watson’s shot whipped past Climie. The first period shots, despite the late action, were only 7-6 in the Admirals favor.
After a high sticking call from Chris Chelios’ kid against Simon Moser – Austin Watson’s power-play goal gave the Admirals the opener. Vinny Saponari passed down towards the left wing side of the net to Patrick Cehlin – who quickly stepped up – passed acorss Climie – and found a one-time shot by Watson who scored for his nineteenth goal of the season. It wasn’t just a power-play goal. It was the teddy bear toss goal! Great turnout from the Milwaukee fans in that respect.
Excitement levels jacked up following some Finn on Finn crime. Jani Hakanpaa was given a boarding minor as he hit Joonas Rask behind Climie’s cage. We then saw a shorthanded goal and power-play goal scored thirty-six seconds apart from one another.
The Wolves shorthanded goal was scored, for all intensive purposes, from a two-on-zero break by the Wolves. Nathan Longpre pushed a puck over to Christian Hanson and he beat Marek Mazanec to tie the game. It is the Wolves fourth shorthanded goal of the season. They have twice as many shorthanded goals against Milwaukee as they do power-play goals.
Only thirty-six seconds later Watson scored his second power-play goal of the game. The play was incredibly similar to the first Watson goal: Saponari to Cehlin to a one-timer from Watson – same spots on the ice.
The Watson show wouldn’t end there either. He scored his twenty-first goal of the season to complete his hat trick to finish off the second period. Taylor Chorney’s clearance attempt hit Watson square in front of the net. The Michigan native gathered himself and flipped a wrister past Climie for his first professional hat trick – each goal scored from the power-play – and the Admirals first hat trick since Watson’s former linemate Juuso Puustinen did it last season against the Oklahoma City Barons on 1/25/13.
The Admirals scored their fourth goal of the game just moments after a another power-play chance expired. This time it was Miikka Salomaki doing the damage as he smashed in a skipping puck that trickled between two Wolves defensemen. It goes down as Salomaki’s nineteenth goal of the season.
Mazanec continued to perform big time in net for the Admirals. If not for Watson’s hat trick he would have easily been tonight’s first star. He stopped twenty-eight of twenty-nine shots on goal – including numerous breakaway chances by the Wolves. This is the first time since the opening five-game winning streak in which Mazanec has won three straight games.
Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches included Scott Ford, Mikko Vainonen, Mike Liambas, Scott Valentine, Kirill Gotovets, Mark Van Guilder, and Francis Wathier. Of the players listed as scratches tonight – only Vainonen participated in the pre-game skate. Teddy Bear Toss Total, 1,195 teddies.