The Admirals were shutout 4-0 by Petr Mrázek and the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday night. It’s the third career shutout by Mrázek against the Admirals in twelve career performances. The Ads now have only one win from their last seven games and have fallen down the pecking order in the Midwest Division.
It could have gone much worse but the first period was about as sluggish of a start as the Admirals have had all season. Their first shot came 9:57 into the frame and they were outshot in the period 12-6.
It’s probably no surprise then that the Griffins were able to generate a goal out of that opening period. After a counter rush back up ice for the Griffins, that saw a two-on-one pass for Andy Miele flame out, they capitalized off of an Admirals defense that was scrambling. Scott Czarnowczan stepped up from the point and got to the left side of Marek Mazanec. He fed on over to a wide open back door where Marek Tvrdon had a tap in for his seventh goal of the season.
After Petr Mrazek was called for a trip, the Griffins scored shorthanded in the third period to push their lead to 2-0. Tomas Nosek raced down the left wing and fought off the backcheck of Taylor Aronson before cutting across goal to go forehand to backhand past the extended left pad of Mazanec. The goal was Nosek’s sixth of the season and the Admirals seventh shorthanded goal allowed this season.
Jeff Hoggan scored midway through the third period to make it a 3-0 game. Xavier Ouellet’s stretch pass deflected off of Colton Sissons stick in neutral ice and wobbled its way perfectly in line with the Griffins captain. Hoggan finished off his breakaway with a forehand over the glove of Mazanec to score his eighth goal of the season.
The Admirals finally had enough of being bossed around and things exploded with Rich Clune instigating a small brawl. The fracas spilled into a secondary fight between Triston Grant and Chris Bruton. Grant bloodied up Bruton and the crowd finally had something to cheer about.
In the closing minutes the Admirals burned their timeout and pulled Mazanec in the hopes of a miraculous comeback. That of course didn’t happen. What did happen was a long range empty netter for Landon Ferraro for his twenty-second goal of the season to seal the game at its 4-0 final.
The defeat pushes the Griffins that much further ahead in the Midwest Division. They now have a four-point gap over the Admirals. Combine that with the results out of the Rockford IceHogs tonight and the Ads have fallen to third place in the division.
Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were Miikka Salomaki (upper body), Joe Pendenza (healthy), Joe Piskula (lower body), and Garrett Noonan (healthy). Johan Alm made his return to the Admirals after missing the previous thirty-two straight games due to a wrist injury. Jimmy Oligny returned after missing the last ten games due to a right knee injury. And Ian White returned after missing the last two games with the Admirals due to a family emergency. This was also Anthony Bitetto’s first game in the AHL since 2/15/15 when the Admirals played against the Lake Erie Monsters.
Thoughts on the performance tonight? Could you sum this game up by the Admirals being rusty and the Griffins being hot? What’s happened to the Admirals during the finish to the month of February?