The Admirals won 5-2 against the Rockford IceHogs at the MSOE Kern Center Friday night. It was a great glimpse for fans in Milwaukee to get their first taste of the 2015-16 Admirals in game action. And they didn’t disappoint. Despite a quick tally for the IceHogs to open the game it was all Admirals for the majority of this contest.
“We were happy with the outcome,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “But we were also happy with a lot of people and their performances tonight. Really liked [Juuse] Saros in net. Was real calm. But there was a lot of people that are still fighting for opportunities and still fighting for jobs. Lot of people showed very well.”
Even for those expecting a fast start from the IceHogs, coming off an exhibition last night against the Chicago Wolves, you wouldn’t have expected them to start this fast. Only seventeen seconds into the game and a Dennis Robertson shot from the right point pelted off of Juuse Saros right pad and into the path of Mark McNeill for the opening goal.
“Everything happened pretty fast there,” said Juuse Saros. “We had a tough start.”
As the opening frame started to heat up the Admirals were able to work themselves more and more into the controlling stakes of game. Puck control and persistent pressure on defense had the IceHogs on the backfoot.
After goaltender Mac Carruth was whistled for a delay of game penalty the Admirals equalized with a power-play goal. A hard shot aimed low through traffic by Conor Allen at the point managed to ricochet out to Max Reinhart who zipped in the rebound to make it 1-1.
Only moments later, Joe Pendenza made a great play behind the net to pick out a wide open Felix Girard in front of the net where he would beat Carruth to the glove side to give the Admirals a 2-1 lead.
In the second period Pontus Åberg was able to extend the Admirals lead to 3-1. The energy in attack spilled into the sandwich stanza and quick passes managed to open up the left wing for Åberg to slot past Carruth.
Then came a scrap. Jimmy Oligny was looking game for a fight in the first period and got his dance partner midway through the second period in Patrick Koudys. There were some clean shots landed from both. I’ll take a guess that Oligny landed the better of the exchanges because he made it to the box and Koudys left for repairs.
The third period resulted in the second goal of the night for Åberg as he roamed the left wing. Adam Payerl provided a great lofted pass from the right wing to tee up Åberg for the back post finish.
A little past the halfway point in the third period and Chris DeSousa decided he had enough. The IceHogs forward crosschecked Girard after an initial faceoff draw and then came the fisticuffs. The bout was more of a quick judo throw and wrasslin’ match on the ice with DeSousa on top. He then proceeded to spout venom at any Admirals player he could see including that one bench he skated past.
In the closing minutes of the game the IceHogs would finally do what they managed to do so effortlessly to start the game, beat Saros. The IceHogs had a two-on-one break which ended with Kyle Stroh burying a puck high blocker side off a feed from Peter Schneider.
The following faceoff was taken with the IceHogs net emptied. Quicker than you could say it – Max Görtz had scored on the empty net to finish this game off at 5-2.
“We’ve got some decisions to make,” said Evason of the roster. “Which is great. We feel that we have a lot of people that can play on a regular basis and we’re looking forward to it shaking down tomorrow night.”
The Admirals play their final exhibition game of this pre-season tomorrow night on the road against the Wolves. The regular season starts Saturday October 10th on the road against those same Wolves and the home opener is Friday October 16th against the Charlotte Checkers.
Ramblings: Tonight’s line combinations were: Salomäki-Reinhart-Moss, Åberg-Kamenev-Payerl, Pendenza-Girard-Görtz, Rissling-Gaudreau-Robinson, Allen-Näkyvä, Noonan-Oligny, Murphy-Diaby, with Saros in net. Tomorrow night Marek Mazanec will start in net and there should be some changes to the skaters that dress and get scratches as well.