AHL Game Night 12/19: River Rats at Admirals
Fun game to watch if you're an Ads fan.
Mike McKenna stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout victory.
NOR Smolenak, (10) (Konopka, Jones), 13:50 (PP)
NOR Wishart, (1) , 16:54
NOR Smolenak, (11) (Gratton, Lawrence), 2:44
NOR Downie, (3) , 3:26
NOR Mihalik, (2) (Downie, Gratton), 8:56 (PP)
I thought the Admirals best two players were probably Steve Downie and Chris Gratton in the game. Gratton looks like a man among boys at this level. Smolenak was in the right place at the right time for a power play goal after a puck bounced off an Albany defender and then on a nice setup by Gratton with Smolenak crossing the top of the crease. I didn't see Gratton out the second half of the third period. Hopefully that was to let the old man kick back and relax as opposed to an injury.
Downie's goal came after he pickpocketed a River Rats defender and then blistered a shot off the wing high glove side. If I have a criticism of Downie's game, it's that he doesn't shoot enough. That said, he's too good for the AHL level. He needs to be in the NHL soon.
Wishart got his first pro goal on a little harmless looking snap shot that skimmed off an Albany defender on the way in and found the back of the net. Not the most artistic goal, but he'll take it. Vladimir Mihalik found a rebound in the high slot and pounded a slap shot five hole on Justin Peters for his tally. Soft goal by Peters, in my opinion. In both defensemen's cases, beggars can't be choosers and I'm sure they're glad just to light the lamp.
Kevin Quick is starting to get back on schedule developmentally. He still makes mistakes (darned near cost McKenna his shutout on one shift in the third) but he's starting to look like a real AHLer, and when he gets it cranked up on the rush you can squint and see a bit of the puck carrying d-man the Lightning organization always thought he could become.
Jay Rosehill is becoming a Grade A badass. I remember when he was a lost little lamb playing for Johnstown in the Coast. He was a manimal dropping the gloves tonight. He beat Mike Angelidis like Angelidis owed him money tonight.
Don't read too much into this game, mind you. Albany is a thin team that was playing without one of their best players and all of a sudden the Admirals are laiden with NHLers and prospects who were recently up and proved their close to being NHLers. This was not a fair fight. Tomorrow night against Philly will be a truer test on just how far this configuration of the Ads can go. Still too many neutral zone turnovers by the forwards and the young d wasn't really tested under fire much considering how non-existent Albany's forecheck was tonight.
Box score from TheAHL.com.