The Admirals lost 4-2 at home to the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night. Despite putting in a much better effort than the previous outing at the BMO Harris Bradley Center the Admirals just weren’t enough to get the better of the rival IceHogs.
“We’re not happy with the end result,” said Milwaukee Admirals forward Cody Bass. “I thought we played well enough to win but attention to details I think, a couple of turnovers, cost us.”
For the first time this season the Admirals were able to get a regulation lead. A crafty piece of stickhandling by Pontus Åberg to avoid the sprawling Kirill Gotovets led to a pass back to the right wing rushing Stevie Moses. The finish by Moses was taken on the backhand with a swat that hopped up and over the right pad of Michael Leighton and in. The goal is Moses first of the season and first in North America since 4/13/12 when he was a member of the Connecticut Whale in the AHL.
Just before the midway point in the game Brandon Mashinter leveled the score at 1-1. Kirill Gotovets threw a shot towards the net and the IceHogs captain managed to flail a stick on the puck in front of Juuse Saros to score his second goal of the season courtesy of the deflection.
Three minutes later the IceHogs were able to take a 2-1 lead after a crazy skipping puck alluded everyone but Tanner Kero. Jake Dowell’s initial shot was blocked by Kristian Näkyvä and the puck carried on bouncing towards the goal crease where Kero was able to pop home his team-best sixth goal of the season.
It was forty-seconds after the IceHogs took the lead that the game hit a flashpoint. Kevin Fiala was taking a shot from the left wing blue line as he entered the zone and was hammered violently off his feet and into the boards by AHL debutant Chris DeSousa. The IceHogs forward was handed a five-minute major for boarding. Fortunately for Fiala he would return a mere two minutes into the five-minute major power-play opportunity for the Admirals and looked very lively following the heavy collision.
In the third period the Admirals were the recipient of a tic-tac call that put them on the power-play for a fourth time. Ryan Hartman was caught offside and just as the whistle was blowing against him for that he clipped Conor Allen head high with a hit and was called for roughing. This set the stage for Max Reinhart’s first goal as a member of the Admirals as his one-timed slap shot on the right wing faceoff circle blazed past Leighton and in for a power-play goal to make it 2-2.
Moments later the IceHogs were on the receiving end of some luck of their own. Vladislav Kamenev was carrying the puck with pace through the attacking zone when the puck hit off Hartman’s knee hard and flew out into the neutral zone. Marko Dano was the first man to react to the play and beat Anthony Bitetto to the punch to head off on a breakaway. Saros stopped the initial chance but Dano swept in the follow up to score his first goal of the season at make it a 3-2 IceHogs lead.
The game was put away in the final minute with Saros on the bench and the extra attacker on. Despite some decent enough setups on shots to the net the IceHogs blocked most of them and wound up with the long range empty netter by Hartman that closed the game out at the 4-2 final on his second goal of the season.
“We definitely haven’t yet put it all together,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We’re still waiting for that.”
The Admirals, who have played half the amount of games as the IceHogs have, will look to start hitting better stride with a good chunk of games now on the calendar. Including tonight’s game, the next two weeks the Admirals will have played a total of seven games after a cold opening of only three games prior. Practice, while good for rebounding from games such as this, only allow for so much to be done. The real work needs to happen in-game. With a rapid succession of games the hope is for the Admirals to get on a run.
“Playing hockey games is good,” smiled Evason. “You can practice your systems, you can practice everything, your pace, all that kind of stuff – but you’re not doing it for real. It looks great in practice because we’re really pushing the pace, or we’re tight with our system, but we’re not playing anybody. So there is no question you can play hockey games, you get into a groove, you get your lines going, you can roll everything, and your systems you can teach with film. We’re looking forward to playing more games for sure.”
Ramblings: Since the Admirals last played there were a number of roster moves made. Viktor Arvidsson was assigned to the Admirals from the Nashville Predators but did not factor in tonight’s game because he was recalled due to Calle Jarnkrok getting ill. Anthony Bitetto joined the Admirals from the Predators via a conditioning assignment that will see him back with the team for the next two weeks (injuries pending). Subsequently the Admirals sent Max Görtz, Joe Pendenza, and Jonathan Diaby to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL to take on the added load from Nashville.
What is your reaction to tonight’s game: positive minus the result or is it all a negative? What was your reaction to the hit Kevin Fiala received from Chris DeSousa? How well do you think Juuse Saros has performed for the Admirals so far?