Admirals Lose the Track Meet in Rockford, 3-2

(Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs // flickr)
Marek Mazanec made his first start in three games. Despite a barrage of shots put up by the Admirals down at the other end. Mazanec and the Admirals would fall 3-2 in Rockford. (Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs // flickr)

The Admirals lost 3-2 on the road against the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night. It was a shooting gallery tonight as the two teams tallied seventy-three shots on goal. Brendan Leipsic was able to score the first goal in his professional playing career to help the Admirals climb out of a 2-0 hole. Yet, T.J. Brennan’s late power-play goal in the second period would be enough to seal things in Rockford tonight.

Entering tonight’s game, the Admirals were a perfect nine-for-nine in penalty killing against the IceHogs in their previous three meetings this season. That spell was broken in the first period after a double screen blocked Marek Mazanec’s sight line for Kyle Cumiskey’s blast from the point. It’s his first goal of the season and first as a member of the IceHogs.

In the second period the IceHogs were able to extend their lead to two-goals. Zach Miskovic’s shot between the circles was aimed low and he forced a rebound off of Mazanec that went straight to the stickblade of Dennis Rasmussen. It was a simple finish for his fourth goal of the season.

Don’t be too surprised if the Admirals start working on breakaways in the near future. After missing three breakaways last night – Pontus Aberg had a breakaway from the defensive blue line all the way in on Scott Darling. His shot was pushed aside by Darling. And it left another clean chance for the Ads begging.

Garrett Noonan would help ease the sting of the Aberg miss by ripping in a one-timer for his third goal of the season and second scored against the IceHogs. Just as an Admiral power-play was coming to an end, Anthony Bitetto slid a pass on from the point to Noonan on the right wing circle which he took first time. Darling was down and out getting to the placement of Noonan’s shot but he couldn’t get there.

Then came a decent fight between Mike Liambas and Ryan Schnell. This bout spilled over after the two jawed their way to the penalty box following a Liambas goaltender interference that pulled in Schnell for an unsportsmanlike. When they got out of the box they let fly a really passionate facepunching fest. I say give them both a ten in your fight card.

Brendan Leipsic has been leading the Admirals in scoring most of the way this season and doing it by assists alone. Tonight was finally his night to score his first career goal as a professional hockey player. The Ads had a four-on-three odd-man rush on a four-on-four. Taylor Aronson passed from the center lane off to the right wing where Leipsic blistered a shot while down on one knee to beat Darling and level the game a 2-2.

Craziness continued in the second period with another fight. After Stephen Johns was tagged with an interference call, for clobbering Frederick Gaudreau, Garrett Noonan stepped up and decided to drop the mitts. While Noonan may have been coming to the aid of his teammate he lost the fight to Johns pretty badly. Pro, being a great teammate. Con, getting knocked around until you’re off your feet.

The second period ended with the IceHogs regaining their lead. With another four-on-four coming to a close, the IceHogs gained a skater and got a short but sweet power-play chance. T.J. Brennan held the puck and pinpointed a shot high over the shoulder of Mazanec and beneath the crossbar to make it 3-2. It’s Brennan’s fourth goal of the season.

With the net emptied, and both teams burning timeouts in the closing of the third period, the Admirals were not able to get the equalizer on their former-goaltender Darling – who stopped thirty-eight of forty shots on goal tonight. Mazanec also had himself a busy night: thirty saves on thirty-three shots. The win for the IceHogs snaps a winning streak that the Admirals had running on them of eight-straight games dating back to last season.

Ramblings: Marek Mazanec made his first start since 11/12/14 when the Admirals lost 3-2. Apart from the goaltenders being rotated – the roster and line combinations were the same as it has been for a while now. Scratches were Jonathan Diaby (healthy), Joe Pendenza (healthy), and Patrick Cehlin (hip). The Rockford IceHogs were without Mark McNeill for the IceHogs tonight. In his absence they dressed an extra defenseman.

Thoughts from tonight’s game? Is this a difficult loss to take for the Admirals or a case of just getting slightly bested by another quality team? What were your impressions of Marek Mazanec’s return to the Admirals net? Would this game have been all that different if Magnus Hellberg played? What will Brendan Leipsic’s first goal do for his confidence moving forward?

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