The Admirals won 3-1 against the Rockford in Friday night’s pre-season opener from the MSOE Kern Center. Despite giving up the opening goal off of a shorthander – the Milwaukee Admirals never looked the lesser of these two teams. It was a good controlled effort for the Ads first competitive outing of the season.
“We’re very happy with a lot of guys,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “There’s still jobs up for grabs and playing time. A lot of guys showed very well.”
Milwaukee came out of the gate with two early penalty kills. The opening shift from the line of Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons, and Austin Watson had a slow exchange on the bench that resulted in a too many men on the ice penalty. That was followed up by Zach Budish flipping a puck into the stands for a delay of game.
It wasn’t until the midway point in the period until the Admirals really started to sustain offensive pressure against the IceHogs. Mike Liambas was decked at center ice by Ildar Telyakov which drew an interference penalty to give the Ads their second power-play of the period. It was then an unfortunate puck that skipped along the boards to the tape of Alex Broadhurst on a shorthanded breakaway. He flew in off the right wing, suckered Magnus Hellberg with a forehand, and scored on the backhand.
Liambas was able to respond in kind. A poor turnover in front of Kent Simpson allowed for a clean took up close. Liambas wripped a wrister on the shortside for an equalizing goal in the first period.
The Admirals took their first lead of the game after some great combination work around the net by Josh Shalla and Budish. The two worked around Simpson for a loose puck that was flung into the net by an on-rushing Sissons. Rockford had more numbers around the cage and missed Sissons coming off the bench. I’d have to imagine the IceHogs didn’t know he was charging towards the net.
Just over the halfway mark of the second period, both Hellberg and Simpson gave way to their back-ups on the evening: Rob Madore and Mac Carruth. Madore was greeted into the game with a five-on-three penalty kill that the IceHogs failed to capitalize from. They had thirty-seconds to work the three man kill of the Admirals only to have Anthony Bitetto and Triston Grant link up and get the clear.
In the third period the Ads managed to score the final goal of the game from a power-play. Jamie Wise sent a puck up into the Kern Center girders for a delay of game. This set the stage for Aberg’s first Admiral goal. It wasn’t the prettiest. It was a clunky effort in net from Carruth that left Aberg a wide open net to redirect a skipping puck into. It made it a 3-1 contest.
“I didn’t see where the puck went,” said Pontus Aberg. “It came right to my stick and went up in the air. I scored with like a volley.”
Wise would figure into this game right before action concluded. He hit Miikka Salomaki from behind and into the boards by the penalty box. Felix Girard instantly grappled Wise, looked as though he landed at least one good punch, and both were given minors: boarding and a roughing call. All things told. Not a bad roughing penalty.
“I think anyone watching could tell who the better team was tonight,” said Rob Madore. “For the first time really playing together as a team I thought we were awesome defensively.”
Ramblings: After scoring his goal, Mike Liambas did not return to the game – possibly due to the hit he sustained in the first period. In his absence it appeared as if Colton Sissons did a lot of double shifting on that line combination that lost Liambas. The lines were as follows: Aberg-Sissons-Watson, Salomaki-Girard-Arvidsson, Shalla-Pendenza-Budish, Liambas-Gaudreau-Grant, Bitetto-Vainonen, Aronson-Rissling, Noonan-Oligny.
Thoughts on the pre-season opener? Were there any certain players tonight that stood out to you? What will the addition of Joe Piskula and Johan Alm mean for the rest of the defensemen on-board right now?