The Admirals won 3-2 on the road against the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night. Marek Mazanec put in a first star performance with thirty-one saves. And Joe Pendenza’s first career goal as a professional hockey player ended up going down as tonight’s game-winner.
Being that this was the opening game of the season for the IceHogs you’d have expected their energy levels to be very high. They were by far the more lively team in the opening period and it seemed as if the Admirals were looking to head into the locker room at a 0-0 deadlock.
The IceHogs were finally rewarded for all their first period pressure after a quick back-and-forth of chances. Teuvo Teravainen ripped a two-on-one chance just wide of Marek Mazanec. Then, after a turnover by the IceHogs, Brendan Leipsic was in-behind the defense and missed on a breakaway chance.
The next rush back up the ice resulted in a shot by Matt Carey leaking through Mazanec and trickling closer and closer to the goal. Ryan Hartman won a race to insure that the puck went in and gave the IceHogs a 1-0 lead after the first twenty-minutes.
Austin Watson recorded his second goal of the season and did so twenty-one seconds into the second period. Mark Van Guilder won an in-zone faceoff and Watson was waiting for it as if he were a quarterback. He fired off the successful draw and beat IceHogs goaltender Michael Leighton. Watson scored twenty-two seconds into the third period last night.
Van Guilder would give the Admirals a one-goal lead after he crashed the net and put in a loose puck. The line that features Watson, Van Guilder, and Salomaki were buzzing around the net and the puck spilled to the Admiral veteran who has now scored a goal in five seasons for Milwaukee.
Mazanec was really looking solid during the course of the first two periods in this game. It looked like the IceHogs were really in need of an ugly goal and that is precisely what they got with four-minutes remaining in the second period. Zach Miskovic’s shot from the point went into traffic, took a deflection, and beat Mazanec. The goal was credited to Hartman – his second goal on the night.
The fourth line of the Admirals would come through with the game-winning goal in the third period. After a puck fooled Adam Clendening behind the IceHogs’ cage, Frederick Gaudreau pounced, collected, and threw a nearly blind backhanded pass out to the left wing side of the net. Joe Pendenza was the man on the spot for Gaudreau’s feed and earned his first career goal as a professional hockey player.
Rockford emptied their net after an icing call with 1:19 remaining in the third period. The man who stood out the most in this game, Mazanec, held his own yet again. He had thirty-one saves tonight – including a big time blocker save with only seconds remaining. For my money that was the best performance Mazanec has put together as an Admiral. He came up big multiple times.
The Admirals next games are in Iowa this coming Friday and Saturday. They should get some more time to comb over things from an opening weekend that saw them grab all four points. It’s possible, with nine defensemen on the roster, that we could also see a shake up as well. Still. When you’re winning games. It’s hard to change something that is working. And the defensive effort the Admirals had in the third period was outstanding.
Ramblings: The Admirals dressed the exact same roster as they did in yesterday’s opener. That meant healthy scratches for Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, Mikko Vainonen, Jaynen Rissling, and Josh Shalla. Patrick Cehlin (hip) and Mike Liambas (undisclosed) remain out with injury.
Thoughts on tonight’s performance? Would you have expected the Admirals to win both games here on opening weekend? What is your long term outlook for the Ads season? Would you change anyone on defense? Would you consider Magnus Hellberg for either of next weekend’s games in Iowa?