The Admirals won 2-1 on the road against the Utica Comets Friday night. It was a last second thriller that saw Mark Van Guilder steal the win for the Ads tonight on his fifth goal of the season. Magnus Hellberg had yet another stellar performance in net and the Admirals have matched the winning streak that started the season with six straight victories.
Mike Liambas returned to the Admirals lineup for the first time since being suspended three games for his illegal check to the head of Grand Rapids Griffins’ Louis-Marc Aubry. Liambas had sat out the last two games as a healthy scratch. And what better way to return to the ice than with a fight in your opening shift. He dropped the gloves with Tom Sestito and both landed some nice punches. Sestito finished it off. I’d give the slight edge in the fight column to the Comets bruiser.
The Admirals would get on the board first after Rich Clune put away his second goal of the season. Ian White’s shot from the point flew in through traffic and into Jacob Markstrom. The puck took some bounces around the cage, near Austin Watson, before falling over to the right wing side of the net to Clune who cleaned up the garbage.
In the second period, after checking Viktor Arvidsson down at one end of the rink, Andrey Pedan had to answer for his actions down at the other end. Jonathan Diaby was the man who paired up with Pedan and landed serval jabs flush before the Comets defenseman landed some decent blows to earn a take down.
After wave upon wave of offensive pressure the Comets finally solved Magnus Hellberg late in the third period. A puck fell to Hunter Shinkaruk who made a spectacular spinning pass against the grain to the opposite post to give Dustin Jeffrey a tap in for his eleventh goal of the season. Hellberg was a perfect 27/27 prior to the equalizing goal for the Comets.
With thirty-four seconds remaining in regulation Mark Van Guilder played spoiler to the Utica Comets comeback bid. Despite being over-matched from the second period onwards the Comets were burned in transition as Van Guilder was free in space on the right wing and beat Markstrom on a wrist shot to the five-hole for the game-winner. The goal for Van Guilder is his fifth of the season and sees the Admirals winning streak match its season high of six games.
It was yet another great night in net for Hellberg who improved his already impressive stat totals to 1.68 goals against average with a 0.936 save percentage – both of which are tops in the AHL this season. With the win tonight he has officially double the amount of wins he earned for the Admirals last season with ten.
Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals included Joe Pendenza (healthy), Frederick Gaudreau (healthy), Kevin Fiala (has yet to join the team), Taylor Aronson (undisclosed injury), and Johan Alm (upper body). Aronson has now missed the last two games due to an undisclosed injury. Alm has now missed seventeen straight games due to an upper body injury. Fiala is yet to join the Admirals and is expected to arrive in Milwaukee on Monday with a chance to debut for Wednesday’s home game against these very same Comets.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Did the Admirals just get away with robbery with that late goal? Is Magnus Hellberg making his point that he should be up in the NHL right now?