The Milwaukee Admirals won 6-2 on the road against the Rockford IceHogs Monday night at the BMO Harris Bank Center.
This was about as wild of a way to head into the Christmas break as I could have imagined for the Admirals. After leading 4-0 through two periods of play the IceHogs mounted a strong comeback push in the third period and fired nineteen shots on goal in the frame. The closing heroics to seal the game off came from Max Reinhart who scored twice from the same penalty kill to earn a hat trick performance tonight on the road.
This game got off to a particularly nasty start as Ryan Hartman clocked Trevor Murphy from behind with an illegal check to the head four-minutes into the contest. Murphy was stationed in what would be the IceHogs right wing pocket along the end-boards when Hartman zeroed in with a follow-through check to the back of Murphy’s head. The play was whistled down. Jimmy Oligny went after Hartman, but no fight actually would manifest itself, and Murphy stayed down for a while before being helped to the Admirals locker room. Hartman was tasked with making his trip to the IceHogs locker room before Murphy got up and was given a match penalty (AHL Rule 48.5).
The Admirals cashed in only once from the five-minute power-play and did so forty-five seconds into the major power-play chance. Frédérick Gaudreau was able to free himself up and find a pocket of space directly in the slot and Max Görtz delivered a perfect feed from the left wing for the quick redirect. The goal for Gaudreau was his eighth of the season. It was also his fifth goal scored on the power-play which is one-better than all goals scored by him as an Admiral in the 2014-15 season.
Midway through the second period the game, and good fortune, all appeared to open up for the Admirals. Just as a high sticking penalty against Ryan Haggerty expired the Admirals scored six-seconds after their power-play chance expired. Matt White delivered a hard shot pass to the front of the net where Max Reinhart put a stick blade to it for the redirect past Mark Visentin to follow in Gaudreau’s footsteps with his eighth goal of the season.
A little over three-minute later the IceHogs were caught in a bad change, with the defense scrambling, when Zac Larraza tallied his second goal in as many games. Félix Girard, from the right wing, was able to pick out Larraza as he streaked in down the slot unmarked. It was a strong wrister labeled for the top shelf that Visentin didn’t have a chance to stop. Though you couldn’t pin much blame on any of the goals against on him it was this play that would end the night in net for Visentin as the IceHogs brought in Michael Leighton to replace him.
The second period for the IceHogs could probably be best summed up by one play. Daniel Paille was able to win a foot race down the right wing and fire a shot past Marek Mazanec and off the crossbar. The puck flew forward and the Admirals were set for a counter attack that ended with traffic clouding the sight of Leighton and a Taylor Aronson bomb from the right point that whistled through everyone to hit twine for his third goal of the season.
It was 4-0 Admirals when a former face decided enough was enough. Mike Liambas found himself a dance partner in the form of Jamie Devane and the two traded heavy uppercut after heavy uppercut on one another. Many missed. Many landed to the body. Some caught the head. I call this bout a majority draw.
The IceHogs came out of the second intermission with a good amount of purpose and the heat they were delivering paid off. Garret Ross was able to cradle a puck from behind the net out in front of Mazanec and Jeremy Morin pushed the loose puck past for his ninth goal of the season. He has now scored a goal in four straight games.
Pressure from the IceHogs would keep getting poured on as the third period stormed ahead. Even on an Admirals power-play they were pressing forward. Driving down the right wing on a shorthanded rush, Vince Hinostroza was able to battle through a check and pop a shot up and over the glove of Mazanec to score his second goal of the season and the IceHogs’ seventh shorthanded goal of the season.
The shorthanded goals wouldn’t stop there, either. Reinhart would record two shorthanded goals from the same penalty kill to notch his first career hat trick as a professional hockey player.
With 4:15 remaining in regulation, trailing the Admirals 4-2, the IceHogs pulled Leighton to bring on an extra attacker and have a six against four advantage when Victor Bartley in the box for a delay of game penalty when he pushed the Admirals net loose during an extended Rockford attack. Girard would hit post from a long range empty net bid. Then, a touch later, Reinhart would scoot in all alone along the left wing to glide the puck into the empty net. The IceHogs firmly believed that the puck cleared into the Admirals bench area before re-entering the playing surface. After a long delay the officials allowed the goal to stand.
Leighton was put back in the net but, before you knew it, he and Reinhart were squared up on a shorthanded breakaway. Reinhart swooped from the left wing into the slot before cutting back to his left for a forehand shot. Leighton got his right toe to make an initial stop by Reinhart batted it free and picked up two shorthanded goals from the same penalty kill, his third goal of the same to complete the hat trick, and now has a team leading ten goals on the season. To boot, the Admirals now have an AHL best eight shorthanded goals scored this season. They recorded five shorthanded goals all of last season.
Ramblings: No moves happened within the Nashville Predators system before the NHL Roster Freeze took place. Tonight’s Line Combinations: Fiala-Gaudreau-Görtz, Åberg-Reinhart-Payerl, Larraza-Girard-White, Devane-Pendenza-Saponari, Näkyvä-Aronson, Bartley-Granberg, Murphy-Oligny. Tonight’s Scratches: Cody Bass (upper-body), Conor Allen (upper-body), and Johan Alm (healthy). Former Admiral Mike Liambas made his return to game-action tonight for the Rockford IceHogs after a long layoff due to a lower-body injury. It was his first ever time playing against the Admirals. The hat trick by Max Reinhart is the first by an Admiral this season and first since Viktor Stålberg (3/6/15 vs. Grand Rapids). The last time an Admiral scored two shorthanded goals in one-game was Cal O’Reilly (10/24/07 vs. Quad City) and the last time the Admirals scored two shorthanded goals in a road game was way back on 11/24/01 @ Chicago (Marian Cisar and Bill Bowler).
So, this game happened! Thoughts? Despite a fairly well played second period why did the Admirals fail to get back into the game in the third period? Do the mistakes of the last two games despite the wins worry you at all?