The Admirals lost 5-4 on the road against the Charlotte Checkers Saturday night. The game was by far and large the nuttiest and most dramatic game of the season. Nine goals. One-hundred and eight penalty minutes. One line brawl. One goalie fight. The tagline can simply read, “If you loved Slap Shot. You’re going to love this.”
Despite a hot start for the Admirals in attack – it was the Checkers that popped in the opening goal from their first push on offense. Trevor Carrick blasted a shot from the right point that was just narrowly deflected by Chris Terry in front of Magnus Hellberg for a goal. Terry has scored four goals from seventeen-games in the NHL for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2014-15. This goes down as his first in the AHL this season.
The second period certainly didn’t lack for entertainment. The two teams scored five goals. All goals were scored from special teams scenarios. One of the goals came from a shorthanded penalty shot. And, just for good measure, why not a fight while we’re at it?
With a Checkers power-play nearly expiring they tossed a puck from long range in the hopes of a junk goal and were rewarded. Phil Di Giuseppe threw a shot on Hellberg that got coughed out in front of him. The Admirals defense was unable to clear out the front of the net and it allowed Justin Shugg to dump in the garbage for his sixth goal of the season.
The Admirals received a power-play immediately following the goal by Shugg. Taylor Aronson was in two-minds at the point and it sent Ben Holmstrom off on a shorthanded breakaway. Pontus Aberg caught up with him and took him down to draw a shorthanded penalty shot for the Checkers. Holmstrom ripped a wrister underneath the left pad of Hellberg to score his second of the season.
Then, off of that same power-play, the Admirals made it a one-for-one. Anthony Bitetto hit Austin Watson on a stretch pass that sent him in off the right wing on a break. Watson dished off in front of the net to Garrett Noonan to score a power-play goal and his fourth tally of the season.
Mike Liambas then got the boom show going with a nice fight against former Rockford IceHog Kyle Hagel. Plenty of punches from the two landed. Liambas punching Hagel’s helmet off may have been the heaviest blow thrown. I say mark it 10 each in your fight cards. Nice tilt.
The Admirals power-play continued their lightning fast passing and it resulted in two goals for Aberg off of one-timer shots. The first power-play goal by Aberg was set up by Brendan Leipsic on a half-wall to half-wall feed. The second was set up by the point man Aronson to draw the game equal at 3-3 after the Admirals trailed by three-goals only 7:24 of ice time prior.
If the second period wasn’t crazy enough – the third period took things up to eleven. Rasmus Rissanen, who ended the second period by mugging Colton Sissons, caught Rich Clune with a knee on knee it that sent him flying. Liambas went to go get him. The Checkers gathered. And then all hell broke loose.
Every player on the ice started swarming around the Checkers net and, as soon as metminder John Muse went to grab Liambas, Hellberg raced in from center ice and went to brawl with his opposition in net. There were twenty-six penalty minutes prior to this incident taking place. This line brawl resulted in eighty-two total penalty minutes. Liambas was ejected as a result of two fighting majors. And both goalies were given game misconducts for persisting a fight.
Last season, after Scott Darling fought Sami Aittokallio, I talked to Hellberg about goalie fighting for an edition of the Chatterbox. He said, “I think it’s awesome. I love goalie fights. I don’t think I’m the guy who is trying to fight guys all the time but I think that’s a thing that every goalie wants to experience in their career. I don’t think I would say no but it has to be at the right time. I won’t jeopardize a win or a tight game or something like that.”
Then came some of the dramatics on the ice from the second period in the goal scoring department. Bitetto turned the puck over right in front of Marek Mazanec and it fell kindly to Brock McGinn who beat the fresh goaltender for his fourth goal of the season to restore the Checkers lead after losing a 3-0 advantage.
For those watching this game live at home on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel – you didn’t see the Admirals equalizing goal by Sissons to make it a 4-4 game. Aberg whipped a backhander wide of the net but Leipsic was able to gather it behind Drew MacIntyre’s net before feeding the puck to Sissons for his fifth goal of the season.
With 1:30 left in the game the Checkers scored the game-winner. Carrick’s initial shot kicked up on Mazanec and he didn’t know where the puck spilled to. Di Giuseppe was able to bash in the loose puck in the crease for his third goal of the season – putting an end to a dramatic 5-4 defeat for the Admirals in Charlotte.
Ramblings: Tonight’s healthy scratches were Frederick Gaudreau and Jimmy Oligny. With the scratch tonight Gaudreau has now played in less games this season than any current Admiral forward.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Is the scoreline a reflection of two teams just trying to be too up-tempo? What are your thoughts on the Admirals line brawl and subsequent goalie fight by Magnus Hellberg? What should be expected in tomorrow’s rematch?