The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 against the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The game rest almost firmly on the shoulders of Marek Mazanec and the Admirals penalty kill that went a successful 6/6 on the night.
“[Marek Mazanec] was our best penalty killer,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We’ve talked about this so many times, all coaches do, your best penalty killer is your goaltender when he’s on. Our penalty kill the guys did a lot of right things for sure.”
A puck scramble in neutral ice set up the Admirals for the opening goal in the first period. Stevie Moses was carving through traffic and the puck kicked back to Pontus Åberg who then had both of his linemates past the IceHogs defense for a breakaway opportunity. Åberg saucered ahead on a forehand pass to Vladislav Kamenev down the right wing and the Russian did the rest. He waved the magic wand over the puck before a quick forehand backhand move polished off his fifth goal of the season.
The majority of the first period was a shooting gallery for the IceHogs. At 13:29 of the opening frame they finally put a puck past Marek Mazanec. Following a faceoff win, the towering Viktor Svedberg shot from the point and received a redirect in front of the goal mouth by Dennis Rasmussen. The quick deflection alluded Mazanec and the goal for Rasmussen was his sixth of the season.
He might not have been a teammates of his while he played in Rockford but chalk up yet another fight by Cody Bass against his old team. He paired up with Chris DeSousa and won thoroughly. Bass removed the bucket off DeSousa, gave him the noogies, and kept on delivering until the officials stepped in to call it. Score that round 10-9 for Bass in your fight card.
It wouldn’t be until the third period when the fireworks returned in the goal column. Åberg squirmed into the attacking zone skating center to left, whipped a shot off of Jake Dowell that left him down in pain on the ice, recovered his rebound, and snapped a second shot from the left wing circle off the post and in past Mark Visentin’s blocker side. The goal was Åberg’s fifth of the season.
“I think I hit [Jake Dowell] his knee,” said Pontus Åberg. “He was sitting down on two knees so I think I got him pretty good. I don’t even know where I shot it at first because he was sitting down already. Glad to see it went through him so I could take another shot and it was a great feeling to see it go in.”
It was a hats off performance in net tonight for Mazanec. Both himself and the Admirals desperately wanted to rebound from a rough outing to the Grand Rapids Griffins last night and he responded by stopping 23/24 shots on goal.
“We had a real good bounce back game,” said Evason. “It would have been easy for us just to let last night’s game snowball into something that was not positive. The start of the game wasn’t great but it turned into a real great hockey game. Real intense. Just a hard fought hockey game.”
Ramblings: Following last night’s game there was a frenzy of roster activity across all three levels of the Nashville Predators organization: Viktor Arvidsson and Juuse Saros were recalled by the Predators from the Milwaukee Admirals, Joe Pendenza and Brandon Whitney were recalled by the Admirals from the Cincinnati Cyclones, and the Predators placed Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque in injured reserve. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Fiala-Gaudreau-Görtz, Åberg-Kamenev-Moses, Payerl-Reinhart-Bass, Devane-Girard-Pendenza, Allen-Oligny, Näkyvä-Aronson, Noonan-Murphy. In Nashville, Saros made his NHL debut starting in net on home ice. Arvidsson was slapped with a five minute major for crosschecking and a game misconduct in his return to NHL action.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? How did you like the Admirals response both to last night’s game and a sluggish first period?