The Admirals won 2-1 in a shootout against the Rockford IceHogs Friday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. It took until the third period before the action really shot off. Both defenses were great tonight but the tip of the cap belongs to Marek Mazanec who stopped 28/29 shots and both shootout attempts en route to the Admirals eighth straight win.
“We didn’t anticipate this game being a patient game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We anticipated it being more of an aggressive game as opposed to the Chicago game but it turned out to be a lot like that. Both teams kind of counter punched a little bit. We were able to hang in there and get in the shootout.”
This game was a stalemate from the opening puck drop until five-minutes into the third period. A pass off the left wing wall by Max Görtz picked out Viktor Arvidsson atop the slot. His shot was fended off by Mark Visentin but pushed aside to Frédérick Gaudreau at the side of the cage for a rebound goal. The tally for Gaudreau is his fourth of the season and first not scored on the power-play. By picking up the primary assist on the goal Arvidsson set the new benchmark for longest points streak in the AHL this season at eleven-games.
With 3:42 remaining in regulation the IceHogs had a goal disallowed. A puck was thrown in on Marek Mazanec and fell to the glove side of him. He didn’t see it. Jeremy Morin did. Fortunately for the Admirals the tight space of the situation forced Morin to try and use his skates to get the puck onto his stick and he wound up kicking it in. The play would be reviewed and the call on the ice stood as a no goal due to the use of a distinct kicking motion.
Sadly, this temporary high of the Admirals maintaining a 1-0 shutout would be squashed moments after the video review. Ryan Hartman zipped around the cage and threw a wrap-around from Mazanec’s right side and the puck got underneath him for his fifth goal of the season.
Then came controversy as a shot by Kevin Fiala appeared to sneak through the pads of Visentin and go in with less than a minute remaining. The goal light came on, Kirill Gotovets swiped the puck out of the goal, and then the whistle blew. As the referees saw it, or rather didn’t, those events that were just listed didn’t happen in that order. They blew it. Plain and simple.
“It’s a tough call,” said Evason. “We see it all the time in the NHL. It’s the intent to blow the whistle. It’s clearly in. We get the luxury of watching on the big screen. One referee probably hurts. If there’s a second guy he maybe makes that call in the neutral zone. But they talked so it’s tough. It’s frustrating some times but you got to live with it. We’ve had calls that come our way. That one didn’t but it didn’t hurt.”
The game was then sent to overtime where the Admirals picked up a power-play chance with three-minutes left in the frame due to an IceHogs too many men on the ice penalty. That came and went so the shootout was required. Kevin Fiala stepped up first and delivered with a slick bit of puck handles before wristing home blocker side. Erik Gustafsson stepped up for the IceHogs but flubbed up his late backhander attempt and missed entirely. Gaudreau then stepped up and fired in a snap shot to make it match point for the Admirals. Garret Ross was aiming blocker side the entire time and Mazanec shut him down to provide the Admirals the shootout win.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played they recalled defenseman Garrett Noonan from the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). Tonight was Noonan’s first game in the AHL since 4/18/15. The move came following a lower-body injury that Johan Alm sustained against the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday. Joining Alm on the scratch front due to injury was Stevie Moses who didn’t play due to an upper-body injury. Kevin Fiala marked his return to the ice following his two-game suspension by the AHL and missing Wednesday night’s game due to an upper-body injury. Tonight’s line combinations were: Arvidsson-Gaudreau-Görtz, Fiala-Reinhart-Bass, Åberg-Kamenev-Payerl, Devane-Girard-Robinson, Allen-Oligny, Näkyvä-Aronson, Noonan-Murphy.