The Admirals lost 4-2 on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday night. This game saw the Ads drop their fourth consecutive game after blowing a late lead. The Griffins only lead of the night came with 3:34 left in regulation and they achieved it by scoring the game-winner only fifty-six seconds after equalizing.
Colton Sissons put the Admirals on the board first in the opening period. This goal was neatly set up by a pass by Joe Pendenza as he broke down the left wing and lead his pass to the center lane drive of Sissons who put a stick to the puck before Tom McCollum could make a play on it. The puck banked off the post, back off of the netminder’s skate, and over the line for Sissons ninth goal of the season.
In the second period, Mike Liambas was ejected from the game after delivering an illegal check to the head of Louis-Marc Aubry. It was a blindside hit and Liambas appeared to catch Aubry with an elbow to the face. This triggered Brennan Evans to engage Liambas and they had a decent enough tilt. Evans had the better of the exchanges. As for Aubry he would not return for the rest of the game.
The Liambas penalty gave the Griffins a full five minutes of non-stop major penalty to work with on the power-play. To the Admirals credit, they were twenty-seven seconds away from killing off the entire penalty without even allowing a shot on goal. Unfortunately one shot was taken. And it was a blast from the center of the point, through traffic, taken by Anthony Mantha – who scored his sixth goal of the season.
In the third period the Admirals would regain the lead after Mark Van Guilder scored his fourth goal of the season. Triston Grant, making his return to Grand Rapids for the first time since leaving the Griffins, made a strong play off the forecheck and passed over to Van Guilder who shot on goal almost immediately. The quick release shot was aimed near post, top corner, and beat McCollim to the blocker.
Teemu Pulkkinen celebrated his birthday by scoring his nineteenth goal of the season to level the game up at 2-2. Alexey Marchenko slid a pass over to the Finn on the right wing and he hammered a slap shot off the blocker of Magnus Hellberg, off the far post, and in. It is Pulkkinen’s seventh straight game with a goal.
Less than a minute later the Griffins would take their first lead of the night courtesy of a breakaway goal by Landon Ferraro. The fifth year Griffin was able to get through Jonathan Diaby and set himself off to the races on the right wing. He beat Hellberg underneath the blocker just before Joe Piskula could cut down his shooting angle.
Ferraro would add the empty net tally to seal the game off at its 4-2 final. He fought of Piskula to get to a loose puck along the left wing and beat make-shift goaltender, Austin Watson, for his second goal of the night and twelfth goal of the season.
Ramblings: Prior to tonight’s game Miikka Salomäki and Viktor Stålberg were called up by the Nashville Predators. It is Salomäki’s first career NHL call up. Tonight’s lone scratch would be Johan Alm – who has now missed eleven straight games with an upper body injury. As far as milestones go: Taylor Aronson played his 200th game as a professional tonight (143 ECHL games, 57 AHL games), Magnus Hellberg played his 75th career game as an Admiral to pass Jan Lasak on team’s AHL games played list for goaltenders, and Mark Van Guilder tied Steve Tuttle for eleventh on Admirals all-time games played list with 339 games.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Why are the Admirals unable to finish off games such as this? What needs to change? And can it be solved by tomorrow night?