Minor league hockey, especially at the AHL level, is a matter of unpredictability. You will not be guaranteed even 75% of the same team on two consecutive game nights. Injuries to the big club always affect the team, more than usual some weeks.
Going into this game, the Ads were without top G Frederik Andersen and F Devante Smith-Pelly, who has been excellent so far. They did have top center Peter Holland, and hey, it paid off! Holland contributed to all three goals (2 G +1 A= 3Pts) in the win. One of the goals was some sort of ridiculous shot from like the blue line all alone on AHL journeyman Yann Danis. Even better, G John Gibson got his first professional shutout in the win. He’s pretty good. Ads picked up a much needed 2 points against a really bad team.
Going into this game, WBS only had one regulation loss on the season. They were going to be a tough team to beat, especially at home. Adding to the problem, Peter Holland was recalled by the Ducks after injuries to Matty P and Jakob Silfverberg. The Pens got on the board early, with a goal at 3:10 of the first period. I’d describe it but I wasn’t able to listen. In what was a fight-filled game, the Ads eventually came away with 2 points in a 2-1 game. Rickard Rakell, who might be the best offensive player right now,. snagged a power play goal. Maxime Sauve followed it up with the game winner in the 3rd. Gibson continued to roll on with his impressive performance. He’s definitely lived up to the hype. So, the Ads are 4/6 on the road trip at this point.
For the third game in three nights, you don’t start the same goaltender. Most Ads fans thought we would see Aaron Dell, who had signed a PTO. Good news! Igor Bobkov was assigned to the Ads from Utah. As one might expect, there sure were some goals. Hershey got on the board first behind Aussie Nathan Walker who just buried it point blank. It shouldn’t have happened. Brent Skinner was the subject of a bad Dane Byers hit, YONK took exception and everyone expected a call. No such luck. Not to worry, Alex Grant would later fire from the blue line for his fourth goal of the year to tie it up. Early in the second period, the Admirals would find the lead again. Skinner fired from the blue line and had a shot deflect off of Zack Stortini‘s skate for a goal. The Ads were up 2-1! It would be the last goal they would score. The Bears would score 3 unanswered goals, including one very soft one on Bobkov. Unfortunately, the Ads would get no points out of the game. However, it was only their 2nd regulation loss of the year. Norfolk is currently second in the East and 4th in the East.
what to take from this
The Admirals still got outshot every game, including at Adirondack. They must improve on that to get a better quality of game going and to increase consistency and chances for scoring. Injuries on the Ducks aren’t helping the team, either, though they did okay against the East’s best team on Saturday without Peter Holland, Most importantly, the team can not always rely on goaltending. Yes, John Gibson has been incredibly steady and outstanding in his action so far this year. He can’t play every game and at some point, Frederik Andersen is staying with the Ducks. Once Viktor Fasth gets better, I expect Anaheim to be incredibly serious in trade talks for Jonas Hiller. Bobkov, who was inconsistent at best last year, will most likely be with the Admirals for a good period of time and play games. The team will have to respond differently during his starts. Ads have another 3-in-3 next week (@Albany, @Bridgeport, @Hershey) and need those points. I’d expect the same situation, possibly with Bobkov starting the Saturday game. This weekend’s road trip wasn’t perfect but it was generally successful.
Holland wore an A on Friday, Chris Wagner wore the “young star” A on Saturday and Sunday…Garnet Exelby and Nolan Yonkman wore the vet As as usual…Joseph Cramarossa got hurt in a fight Saturday but should be good to go for the next game….