The Admirals won 4-0 against the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday night. Magnus Hellberg recorded his eighth career AHL shutout by stopping all twenty-two shots on goal. Colton Sissons also scored twice tonight to double his goal scoring output to four on the season. The Griffins have now lost five-straight games.
“We talked afterwards that we’re able to play any game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “If it becomes a physical game we feel we have that group. If it’s a skill game, and up and down, we think we can play that as well. It’s great to know that you can play any way the other team wants to play.”
Joe Pendenza put the Admirals on the board first with a crafty defensive play to set it all up. The 23-year old rookie intercepted a breakout play from the Griffins and linked up with Viktor Arvidsson. The puck trickled in on goal and Pendenza has a few cracks at it before getting it behind Tom McCollum for his third goal of the season.
It was then Colton Sissons turn to score his third goal of the season. A great rush into the zone, started by Brendan Leipsic, ended with Viktor Stalberg tossing a pass into the center lane drive of Sissons. The Griffins may have had a chance to intercept and clear the puck but failed at doing so. In turn, Sissons benefited from the fumbled clearing attempt because McCollum’s hesitation on the play opened up the five hole. It was 2-0 Admirals after 12:26 of play.
The chippy element was then brought to the fore front in the first period after an ugly hit by Brennan Evans. The Griffins defenseman slid over from the right side of defense and hit Felix Girard in the head with a shoulder. There wasn’t a penalty on the play until Rich Clune instigated a fight. The referees didn’t seem to inclined to let these two swing for the fences and, instead, wrapped it up rather quickly.
Mark Van Guilder made it 3-0 and three-for-three on the night for Admirals goal scorers notching their third goals of the season. After a failed swatted clearing attempt foiled the Griffins defense, Austin Watson was able to swoop to the right wing walls and claim the puck. He dropped a pass off behind him to Van Guilder who fired from an awkward angle. McCollum was standing in the net when the shot was taken and it hit him off the right skate and in. It looked as if he never knew Van Guilder had shot on goal.
Evans was at it again in the second period for the Griffins. He leveled Stalberg low with a hip check and got him airborne. Stalberg, who was on the last game of his conditioning assignment, remained down for a long time before Admirals trainer Doug Agnew came to assist him off the ice. Before that could happen – Jonathan Diaby became the second Admiral to instigate a fight with Evans.
“He’s a physical guy,” said Triston Grant of his former Griffins teammate Evans. “Those hits ten-years ago maybe aren’t as questionable as they are today, but he’s a great guy who just plays hard.”
The third period saw two more fights. Clune psyched out Chris Bruton off a faceoff. Bruton tossed his mitts into the air and Clune left him high and dry. However, Liambas decided to give him a bout. The final fight from the night was with Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan locking horns with Jimmy Oligny. The Admirals ended the night with sixty penalty minutes and the Griffins had twenty-eight penalty minutes for a combined eighty-eight minutes worth of penalties.
After Colton Sissons capped the game off with an empty netter it was time to exhale for Magnus Hellberg. He missed out on a shutout in the dying moments in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Wolves but got it tonight.
“I think I’m more relaxed,” said Magnus Hellberg of his start to the season. “I know it can go either way pretty fast but just be relaxed. Try to play my game and I’ve been doing a lot of good with David Rook now.”
It was the eighth career AHL shutout for Hellberg. He stopped all 22-shots he faced tonight. And now has gone three wins in three starts with only two goals allowed for a 0.64 GAA and a 0.973 SV%.
“He’s playing great,” said Evason of Hellberg. “He’s playing like he did two-years ago. Credit to him. He stayed sharp, deserved to get in there tonight, and got the job done.”
Ramblings: Scratches tonight were Pontus Aberg, Frederick Gaudreau, Patrick Cehlin, and Garrett Noonan. Stalberg, who did not return to the ice after injuring his knee in the second period, was walking around without crutches in the Admirals locker room. It was the last day of his conditioning assignment and he is due back to Nashville tomorrow – regardless of injury.
Thoughts from tonight’s game? Are all games in the Midwest Division going to be this physical this season? What will Marek Mazanec need to do now to earn time in net over Magnus Hellberg?