The Milwaukee Admirals came away with a 3-2 overtime victory on the road against the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night. Marek Mazanec came up huge several times and allowed for the Admirals to have a foundation to build from and attack. The overtime hero tonight was Trevor Murphy who scored the game-winning goal on a power-play to record his first career professional goal. The Admirals have walked away from this three games in three days set with a clean sweep of three wins in three different cities.
“We had contributions from everybody,” said Milwaukee Admirals assistant coach Stan Drulia as he spoke with Aaron Sims after the game on SportsRadio 105.7 FM The Fan. “You look back Thursday morning in Iowa – just a tremendous group effort. Juuse Saros, two big games in net. [Marek Mazanec] was excellent today. Really gave us a chance when we were kind of floundering early to find our legs and get going but he gave us a chance to win.”
Rockford started this game with a flurry of offense. At 7:54 of the first period their pressure would be rewarded with a goal. The puck was rattling around Marek Mazanec in net and, while the Admirals defense was stationary and in puck watching mode, Brandon Mashinter was able to cradle and pop home his fourth goal of the season.
The IceHogs lead would only last 5:51 of ice time in the first period. Against the run of play, Jamie Devane led a rush down the left wing and was able to beat IceHogs netminder Mark Visentin to his near post as traffic barreled down the slot. The goal was Devane’s first of the season, first as an Admiral, and first goal in the AHL since 3/30/14 when he was a member of the Toronto Marlies.
In the second period the Admirals took their first lead of the game and did it from the power-play. Dennis Rasmussen was called for goaltender interference and the IceHogs penalty kill was managing to negate a single shot getting through on goal. This would all go for naught when a fantastic effort by Pontus Åberg on the left wing to deliver a backhanded pass back into the slot teed up Adam Payerl for the power-play goal and Payerl’s second goal of the season.
After a turnover at the Admirals attacking blue line the IceHogs were able to counter attack and equalize midway through the third period. Bryan Bickell drifting along the left wing was able to loft a pass back towards the high right wing where Ville Pokka stepped in and fired a shot through the five hole of Mazanec to score his first goal of the season.
This game would end up going into overtime. Through regulation the two teams were level in the shots department with thirty-six shots on goal each. When it came time for the three-on-three to get going the Admirals were given an opportunity on the power-play when the IceHogs were caught with too many men on the ice. This set the stage for the theatrics of Trevor Murphy’s first career goal as a professional hockey player. Taylor Aronson passed over to Murphy and it was a one-timed bomb on the four-on-three overtime power-play that beat Visentin for the game-winner.
“He’s been itching to get back in the lineup,” said Drulia of Trevor Murphy. “He was injured when [Anthony Bitetto] was sent down. We made some changes on the back-end, with different pairings, and they were playing really well. It’s tough to get him back in the lineup. He’s a young defenseman. He’s only going to get better. Real bright future. He’s got a real good understanding of the game and he shoots the puck so well. He’s probably got the heaviest shot from our d-group back there so it was a pretty obvious spot to put him in the overtime shooting area.”
It would be so very wrong to not heap praise on the performance of Mazanec in net for the Admirals tonight. He made thirty-five saves and so many of them were high quality stops. Especially given the nature of how hard the IceHogs came out in the first period credit must be given to Mazanec for weathering the storm there and onwards in net to allow the Admirals to have a chance for not just a point but the win.
Ramblings: Prior to tonight’s game the Nashville Predators recalled defenseman Anthony Bitetto after he completed his conditioning assignment with the Admirals following the completion of last night’s game. The Admirals also reassigned Eric Robinson on loan to the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Arvidsson-Sissons-Gaudreau, Åberg-Kamenev-Payerl, Fiala-Reinhart-Bass, Devane-Girard-Moses, Allen-Oligny, Näkyvä-Aronson, Alm-Murphy. The lone scratch for the Admirals tonight was Max Görtz (healthy). The Admirals now have a record of 5-4-1-0 (11 points) on the season which pushes them up to fourth place in the Central Division with a points percentage of 0.550 from their opening ten games.
Reactions from tonight’s game? Did you like the Admirals effort in each of the three games of this three-in-three? Is this Admirals team finally clicking and trending onwards and upwards? What did you think of Kevin Fiala’s return to game action after his benching and one-game scratch? Was this the best performance by Mazanec as an Admiral?