The Milwaukee Admirals lost 6-2 against the Rockford IceHogs Friday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
This game had a promising start but it all fell apart following a Kevin Fiala goal in the opening minute of the second period. The IceHogs scored four unanswered goals and never looked back.
“Our team game wasn’t good enough,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “It was one of the rare times that we weren’t a team. We were off on our own page. We tried to do some things individually that make no sense. Who has ever been here this year, in and out of the line up, from Nashville, from Cincinnati, from somewhere else – we’ve played as a team. Tonight we played as individuals.”
Despite a lack of goal scoring in the first period it was a highly entertaining frame to watch. The pace was quick and favored the Admirals through the first ten minutes. It wasn’t until a pair of successful penalty kills by the IceHogs that the Admirals started to slow down. The highlight of the first period would come in the closing minutes when IceHogs defenseman Erik Gustafsson was given a ten-minute misconduct for shooting a puck away from an official.
Within the opening minute of the second period the game finally received its first goal. Kevin Fiala was measuring up Ville Pokka as he glided down into the left wing circle. Fiala waited, waited, and waited some more to leave Pokka scrambling. Fiala snapped a wrister against the grain, high glove side of Michael Leighton, bar down, to score his fourth goal of the season.
Unfortunately, the rest of the second period went downhill from there. In the space of nine-seconds the pairing of Pierre-Cédric Labrie and Vinnie Hinostroza set each other up for goals to go one-up on the Admirals.
Hinostroza fired a shot from the right wing circle that Marek Mazanec fought off with his glove and chest. Labrie split through the Admirals defense, was fullbacking the Hinostroza shot, and was able to secure the rebound and score underneath Mazanec to score his sixth goal of the season.
Perhaps the Admirals were in a dazed state but, regardless, it only took the IceHogs nine-seconds to score once again. After a bad bounce off a linesman’s skate it triggered an oddman rush with no one in place to recover. This go-round it was Labrie being able to set up Hinostroza from a wing-to-wing feed with Admirals defenders in tow. Mazanec wasn’t able to make the post-to-post save. And Hinostroza picked up his first career goal as a professional hockey player.
Then came a very scary moment in the second period that left everyone on the ice in silence. Victor Bartley wound up to deliver a slap shot from the left point but the puck went flying up and off the head of Ryan Hartman. The sound the puck made as it hit was as loud as the sound of the slap shot. Hopefully the mask or visor took the full brunt of the blow but the damage was still felt. Hartman went down, attempted to get to the bench on his own, and then dropped. The IceHogs head athletic trainer came out on the ice and Hartman would eventually be helped off by Labrie and Viktor Svedberg.
A late second period scrum, that saw only Adam Payerl get called for roughing, would lead to an IceHogs power-play goal. Gustafsson’s shot from the center point took a deflection off the stick of Marko Dano to beat Mazanec and make it a 3-1 game. The goal was Dano’s second of the season and first point of offense sense being returned to the AHL from the Chicago Blackhawks.
The third period started with a thunderous sigh for the Admirals. Labrie scored his second goal of the game to make it a 4-1 IceHogs lead. His shot was from a long way out, atop the right wing faceoff circle, and managed to beat the glove hand of Mazanec.
Fortunately for the Admirals they would respond to Labrie’s seventh goal of the season with a tally of their own 1:04 later. As the IceHogs were trying to rim a puck around the boards and out of their defensive zone – Trevor Murphy unloaded on a slap shot and received a kind bounce off of Garret Ross’ left leg and threw off the timing of Leighton’s glove hand for Murphy’s fifth goal of the season.
For all the power-plays the Admirals were picking up in the third period they couldn’t get anything going from them. The best chance came from a Max Görtz slap shot off the left point, which broke his stick, that hit Frédérick Gaudreau low right wing to the side of the net. Gaudreau had all of the net to bank the shot into but the puck went clean across the goal mouth behind Leighton.
Directly off of the Gaudreau miss the IceHogs stormed down the ice and scored shorthanded. Tanner Kero slid down the right wing, picked out the trailer on the play Mark McNeill, and NcNeill smoked a wrister past Mazanec for his fourth goal of the season.
The damage wouldn’t end there. While still on the power-play, and 3:36 left in regulation, the Admirals brought Mazanec to the bench to get an extra attacker on the ice and go for broke. Jeremy Morin would tuck away an empty netter to pick up his seventh goal of the season and secure a rough defeat for the Admirals on home ice.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Tuesday they released Zach Budish from his PTO contract and signed Zac Larraza to a PTO contract from the Manchester Monarchs (ECHL). Larraza was teammates with Matt White in Manchester this season and the two played on a line together tonight as members of the Admirals. Budish returned to the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). Vladislav Kamenev left the Admirals to join Team Russia in Finland for the upcoming 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships. Tonight’s Line Combinations: Fiala-Gaudreau-Görtz, Åberg-Reinhart-Payerl, Larraza-Girard-White, Devane-Pendenza-Saponari, Bartley-Granberg, Näkyvä-Aronson, Murphy-Oligny. Tonight’s scratches: Cody Bass (upper-body), Conor Allen (upper-body), and Johan Alm (healthy). All three players scratched tonight aren’t expected to be back in the lineup tomorrow.
Reaction on this game? For how solid the Milwaukee Admirals started this game where did it all slip away from them? Can all be forgotten overnight with a quick turnaround game against the Manitoba Moose?