This afternoon the Ads assigned left winger Joshua Shalla to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. This season he has two goals and two assists in sixteen-games.
Last season, Shalla split his time in Cincinnati and Milwaukee. With the Cyclones he produced big numbers: twenty-one goals and seven assists in thirty-seven games. On the flip side, his time with the Ads wasn’t as boisterous: three goals and nine assists in thirty-two games.
Shalla hasn’t entirely looked to be the same player as last season. Perhaps it’s just a lack of minutes playing on the third or fourth lines – or a lack of production meaning playing on the lower line combos? The Cyclones will be playing tonight and tomorrow. Unsure if this move happens late enough where Shalla misses out on tonight’s game, but he’ll certainly be suited up tomorrow if that is the case.
Update: Shalla is already in Cincinnati. He should be good to go for tonight’s game.
Thought’s on this move? How has Shalla looked to you this season? Should this be a short stay for Shalla to log more minutes or a long enough stay to see him produce numbers? What do you think this move says about Vinny Saponari?
“People ask ‘how’re you doing’ and it’s like, what would we have to complain about,” smiled Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We’re doing a job that we absolutely love.”
Last summer, the Admirals were in search of a head coach. The 2011-12 season saw the departures of two coaches. The man who started that campaign off as head coach, Kirk Muller, became the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes very early into the season. Immediately stepping into the fire for Muller was Ian Herbers. The season would come to an end in a first round playoff defeat to the Abbotsford Heat. Herbers then took to a head coaching opportunity with the University of Alberta. Prior to that season the Admirals enjoyed eight seasons with two brilliant hockey minds running the ship, Claude Noel and Lane Lambert. Stability was needed. And it was found from NHL veteran Dean Evason.
Evason on his time in Milwaukee:
Before his time with the Ads, Evason enjoyed a highly successful seven-year run with the Washington Capitals as an assistant coach. In five of those seven seasons the Capitals made the playoffs. He coached under three different head coaches while in DC: Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, and Dale Hunter. Having coached for such a high-powered and successful NHL team for as long as Evason did, one wonders, why depart as an assistant coach of an NHL team in favor of being a head coach of an AHL team?
Evason on his move from Washington to Milwaukee:
In his first season at the helm, the Ads managed to fight back into the playoff picture and finish with a 41-28-4-3 record. The team’s 89 point finish just narrowly trumped the divisional rival Rockford IceHogs’ 87 points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
With a full season under his belt, Evason’s Ads are currently sixth in the AHL’s Western Conference with an 11-5-4-1 record good for 27 points in 21 games. More than a full-year into the Evason era in Milwaukee – what do the player’s think about their head coach?
When speaking to these players, in particular, much was made of the level of respect Evason has for his players and the players for Evason. There sounds like a balance of keeping the room light and laughing as well as getting serious and prepared for battle. For Evason, this is where his time as a player of sixteen professional seasons and as a coach meet head on.
Evason on the working atmosphere:
The players also shed some light on Evason’s ability to balance the serious side with the lighter side of hockey.
Henderson on Evason:
Hellberg on the lighter side of things:
Jarvinen on the serious side of things:
Beck on screwing up:
Valentine on Evason:
Just as is the case with the player development with the Ads, where the main goal is to reach the NHL, the same can just as easily be said when it comes to the head coaching position. Peter Horachek was the head coach of the Ads during the 2002-03 season. Horachek is the current head coach of the Florida Panthers. Claude Noel was behind the bench for the Ads from the Calder Cup season of 2003-04 to 2006-07. Noel has been in charge of the Winnipeg Jets since their return to the NHL. Is such an achievement, being an NHL head coach, on the mind of Dean Evason?
Evason on NHL coaching aspirations:
What are your impressions of the team since Evason joined? How do you feel he has done compared to previous head coaches with the Ads?
The Admirals came out firing with a 5-2 win over the Oklahoma City Barons Friday night. The Ads produced four unanswered goals to start this game. All in all, goals scored by Colton Sissons, Mark Van Guilder, Austin Watson, Anthony Bitetto, and Kevin Henderson proved that a week’s worth of practice went to great use in preparation for this game.
This contest opened with a scrap between Mathieu Tousignant and Travis Ewanyk. The fight started up in the corner after the whistle blew. It was a big time jab fest. Close call as far as calling a winner in this one. Might have to give the edge to Ewanyk for the ending.
The Ads picked up the opening goal thanks to speed and a big time mistake by the Barons. Miikka Salomaki had a mini-break into the zone. He had Brandon Davidson close him down and that forced Salomaki to slow down and whirl a pass.. to no one in particular. Thankfully, in an act of panic or blindness, Barons centerman Roman Horak sent the puck right on the tape of Colton Sissons who fired immediately. The shot beat Laurent Brossoit and extended Sissons team lead in goals with his eighth of the season.
Just a little over two minutes later the Ads scored again. This goal featured a quality pass from Taylor Beck and intelligent skating on the ice by Mark Van Guilder to get on the backdoor of the net. Beck secured a turnover in the corner and skated goalward. The moment Beck picked out Van Guilder there was no hope for Brossoit to stop MVG’s tap in. It was a quick 2-0 Ads lead off of Van Guilder’s fourth goal of the season.
Then came the second period and, quite possibly, the Ads best period they will muster up all season. The Ads scored two more goals, earned three power-plays, and posted a season best twenty-one shots in the period. The Barons posted a woeful four shots in the second period.
Goal number three on the evening was scored by Austin Watson after yet another beauty of a pass by Beck. The Ads wheeled around the zone and Beck teed up Watson with a backhanded pass from behind the net that Watson hit first-time. The shot went to the roof of goal for Watson’s sixth goal of the season.
The Ads finally went slump busters on the power-play thanks to Anthony Bitetto. The sustained offensive pressure by the Ads in the second period was incredible and really showcased on this particular goal. Great keep ins by the point-men, Bryan Rodney especially, lead to Bitetto’s seventh goal of the season. This ended the Ads cringe-worthy 0-25 run on the power-play and also ended the night in net for Barons goalie Brossoit. This gave a chance for Ty Rimmer in the Barons net… which included eleven second period saves on eleven second period shots in 13:26 of ice time… how about that for an offensive outburst?
The third period saw the Barons finally end Scott Darling’s shutout bid after Linus Omark picked up his twelfth goal of the season. Omark raced through the neutral zone and continued his individual rush all the way to goal where he threw a puck at the net that hit off Charles Roussel’s skate and in. The goal for Omark extended his point streak to seven-consecutive games: 2 goals and 9 assists.
After a charging penalty against Mike Liambas, the Barons were able to gather more momentum off of Omark’s goal and make it a 4-2 hockey game. A heavy shot from Brad Hunt on the blue-line produced a power-play goal. The shot kept rising and rising just about clanking the crossbar on its way in.
You know who hates two goal leads? Everyone. The ice was starting to tilt towards the Barons but the Ads were able to finish them off through Kevin Henderson’s second goal of the year. Watson was able to deliver a very soft pass near the slot to Henderson who simply took a whack at it. The puck never left the ice, pinged the near post, and beat Rimmer before he could get a toe to it.
It was a bit of a chippy affair at points. A fair bit of chirping at one-another and some heavy hits dished out. Worst of the worst to me was a cross-check to the neck of Liambas delivered by noted enforcer Steve MacIntyre. The Ads held their composure extremely well in this game. The Ads earned seven power-plays to the Barons two. Still, with a game between the two set for this coming Thursday – message sending may have been on the mind for the Barons after a rough game on their part. With less than thirty-seconds remaining Joonas Jarvinen and Will Acton dropped the gloves in a short but fairly intense fight. Acton landed a good one. Jarvinen had a take down with some particularily nasty things said in Finnish at him… one would assume.
All things told, this was a great response by an Admirals team after several days off. They win 5-2 and outshoot the Barons 44-30 – a season high in shots on goal. Tonight was the first game since 1/25/13 where they held a lead of four goals – that happened in an 8-2 win over these same Barons.
It will be another lengthy break until the rematch. If tonight’s performance says anything about how the team’s compete level was put to the test during a week worth of practice – it’s going to be worth the wait.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Worth the wait? Did the break finally allow the offense to wake up? Thoughts on Darling getting the start tonight instead of Hellberg? Was this the return of the Taylor Beck we’ve come to know?
Last week the Admirals played three games. The week before that they played three games. And before that, you guessed it, three games. This week -and- next week will only see the Ads play one game a week – both of which are against the Oklahoma City Barons. Funny how that schedule shakes out, right?
The Ads are entering the game with a 10-5-4-1 record good for 25 points and third place in the Midwest division. The last ten games haven’t seen the team at their sparkling best: 4-3-2-1. Even worse has been the team’s power-play over its last five games which has not scored a goal with the man-advantage from twenty chances. The last time the team scored a power-play goal came on 11/19 vs. Abbotsford in the first period thanks to Simon Moser. Ever since… ouch.
The biggest benefit to this lengthy break over this week and next will be to reignite the offense and power-play unit. Practice. Practice. Practice. Undoubtedly a focal point all week. It will be fascinating to see if the team can break out of the power-play drought tonight.
Captain Ford. Where art thou? I had the opportunity Wednesday to speak briefly with the Ads skipper and he told me that he broke his foot while blocking a slap shot. He was walking around in a boot but without crutches. As he so often is, Ford was in very good spirits and was still chirping around with his teammates after practice. The captain should be back in a few weeks. He’s a tough hombre!
Now, about the enemy…
The Oklahoma City Barons enter tonight’s game having played in three more games than the Ads but with a lesser record: 9-11-0-3, 21 points, and are fourth in the West division. Like the Ads, the Barons previous ten games has also been a mess going 4-5-0-1. The team is a very odd case. They have an offense that can be explosive: in the last ten games they have scored three-or-more goals seven times. They play in incredibly tight hockey games: thirteen of their twenty-three games played this season have been decided by one goal with a team record of 4-6-0-3 in those contests. They have outscored the Ads this season by 9 goals but have also allowed more goals, 14, than the Ads have. Whether we see a game played on a tight rope or an open and fast paced contest appears to come down to which Barons team shows up: Jekyll or Hyde.
The player to watch on the Barons side of the puck, and one that I am very excited to see play in person, is shootout wizardLinus Omark. Considering all the one-goal games the Barons play… perhaps a shootout isn’t such a bad thing. Nevermind his noted shootout skills though – his AHL season so far has been sharp. In 23 games this season Omark has scored 11 goals and 14 assists (25 pts). That includes a game in which he scored 4 goals in a road effort against the San Antonio Rampage. Right now Omark is on a six-game point streak: 1 goal and 9 assists. How good was his month of November? In twelve games for the Barons he scored in all but three games. That continued in the Barons last game on Tuesday with 2 assists. He’s the man to shutdown if the Ads are going to slow down the Barons offense.
Similar to our previous opponents, the Charlotte Checkers, the Barons have had a hard time finding consistency in net. The Barons have used six goalies this season: Jason LaBarbera, Richard Bachman, Ilya Bryzgalov, Tyler Bunz, Olivier Roy, and Laurent Brossoit. Not yet included in that mix is Ty Rimmer who was recalled from the Quad City Mallards of the Central Hockey League on Tuesday. The current battery in net consists of Brossoit and Rimmer. My expectation would be the man with the most time posted in net, Brossoit, to get the nod tonight. If not, the Ads could see back to back games where their opponents play their seventh goalie of the season… the Checkers played their seventh in the 2-1 defeat Sunday afternoon.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Will the time off help or hurt the team? Can the Ads power-play solve their issues in tonight’s game?
As of yet the move is unofficial. However, if it does in fact take place I would then not be too surprised to also see the return of Teddy Ruth to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. I will update this story once things become a little more concrete.
Piskula suited up for two games with the Nashville Predators during his recent call up. He logged 24:21 minutes worth of time-on-ice in the two games he played with the Preds. In his now twelve game NHL career he has still yet to record his first official NHL point.
UPDATE: It is now official. It just hit the transaction wire right after posting this story. The Ads have also sent Teddy Ruth to Cincinnati.
Was Piskula the right choice of the defensive core to be called up by Nashville? If not, who would you have preferred and why?
Hello Roundtable! While this foggy and misty weather doesn’t quite set the scene – it is December in Wisconsin. Therefore it is getting to be that lovely time of the year where we all get together with family and friends and celebrate the Holiday season. This afternoon I had the chance to speak with members of the team to hear some of their fondest memories of Christmas.
“Just being around our families. I know about the last six years for myself have been away from home, but I’ve always got home for a couple of days at Christmas. Don’t get to see family and friends much throughout the year. Just being around them at that special time is always nice.” ~Taylor Beck
“My whole family lives really close together. So, just to get together Christmas Eve and share some laughs with the whole family is what I love most. There’s not much of a tradition but just getting back home and being with the whole family is great in itself.” ~Kevin Henderson
“Christmas is all about family. Growing up we always had a big family get together and eat lots of food. To think outside of the box a little, I think last year we didn’t have time to go back to Sweden. So all the Swedish guys on the team and their girlfriends went to Chicago for a couple of days and celebrated Christmas there. That was a pretty fun memory for sure!” ~Magnus Hellberg
“Got to be something about childhood. The whole family getting together. Having Christmas presents. Singing. [Favorite present?] Radio Control cars. Those were pretty cool.” ~Joonas Jarvinen
“I think, honestly, when you’re back home being younger, going downstairs. seeing what’s under the tree with your siblings and your parents, and opening gifts. It was usually full of snow outside. So, whatever you got – whether it was a new toboggan or a sled – you could take it out and hit the hills. Just being with family in the morning. Waking up my sister at seven in the morning to go open gifts and her hitting me and telling me to wait an hour.” ~Scott Valentine
“When we were kids – I have an older brother that’s an ’87 and a younger brother that’s a ’90 – and when we were younger we’d always sleep in the same bed the night before Christmas. The one in front of the house because there is a big window in that room – it was my older brother’s room. We’d sleep there and try to listen for Santa. Then we’d wake up in the morning and my dad would pump the Mariah Carey Christmas CD. Every single Christmas. Literally! We’d put our robes on. We all had matching robes. We’d put our robes on, walk down the stairs together, and start opening our gifts – start opening our stockings – while Mariah Carey was singing the whole time. It was pretty funny.” ~Mike Liambas
To hear Liambas tell his own story, which is just fantastic, give a listen:
I’m hoping to get some more players favorite Holiday memories in the coming weeks. In the meantime – what are some of yours? Any great stories or favorite gifts?
Marek Mazanec’s coming out party was made official today.
Mazanec, who posted a 5-4-1 record with a 2.00 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 November appearances, was named NHL Rookie of the Month.
Mazanec got his first NHL win on Nov. 16, holding the fort during a 7-2 drubbing of Chicago. The win was his first in a stretch of five in six starts. However, Mazanec started out the month in Milwaukee, winning his two starts there while allowing just two goals in each contest. Overall the 22-year-old Czech, who could barely grow out his Movember mustash, was 5-0-0 with the Admirals, with a sparkling 1.97 GAA. and .933 SP.
Mazanec beat out the likes of stellar rookies Chris Kreider, Tomas Hertl, Tyler Toffoli, Nathan MacKinnon and Torey Krug for the honor. Plenty of NHL scribes around the league are starting to take notice of the rookie netminder’s fine play. Overall its been a quite a start to a North American professional life for the 6’4″ sixth-round draft pick, who has become the next in line of Nashville’s talented, and tall, European goaltenders.
But perhaps Mazanec’s efforts shouldn’t be much of a suprise. Before the season Admirals defenseman Scott Ford and coach Dean Evason each saw the impressive talents of Mazanec firsthand out of training camp and expected great things:
“(Mazanec) is going to push Magnus (Hellberg) right to the limit,” Ford said. “I think it’s going to be a great tandem. Kind of doubleheaded monster where we have confidence in both guys. They’re going to push each other to be the best.”
“With Mazanec, the young Czech, we feel that we have two number one goalies as opposed to a one and a two,” Evason said. “In both of them we have very young, but talented prospects.”
So Roundtable . . . What do you think of Marek Mazanec’s impressive start? Do you think his AHL days are numbered? How will Nashville handle their goaltending situation when Pekka Rinne returns? Can Hellberg again move above him in the pecking order?
The Admirals won 2-1 against the Charlotte Checkers Sunday afternoon. After conceding the opening goal to Zach Boychuk and the Checkers, the Ads behind Miikka Salomaki, Austin Watson, and Scott Darling came back to pick up the Ads first win in regulation since 11/16 in Iowa.
“I thought our guys had a real good compete level today,” said Milwaukee Admirals assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “We felt pretty comfortable as the game went along. The guys were playing the right way. They were doing a lot of the little things. We had a couple of guys step up. We were physical on the forecheck as a group. I think that really sent the message as the game went along.”
Perhaps starting where they left off last night, Mike Liambas and Nicolas Blanchard dropped the gloves the first chance they could when both men were out on the ice together. This carried over from the events of last night where Liambas took a charging call against Blanchard and was subsequently jumped by him – drawing a third man in penalty – and causing Blanchard’s night to end with a game misconduct. The fight was a quick one. Hard to say who won the scrap.
In the dying seconds of the first period Liambas was at it again. After a tightly contested period Liambas drew a charging penalty and Ads starting goalie Scott Darling picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct to give the Checkers a very late five-on-three power-play chance. Just as the Checkers did for their second goal in last night’s game, Zach Boychuk scored a lightning fast goal after the face off win to give the home-side a 1-0 lead – with only eight-seconds remaining in the period.
In yet another flashback to last night’s game Miikka Salomaki ripped a wrist shot from between the face off circles for a goal. The equalizer came at the 14:54 mark of the second period. It was a period heavily dominated by the Ads who held the Checkers to only three shots on goal in the period – the lowest total the Ads have held an opponent all season. The goal for Salomaki is his fifth of the season and now sees him tied with Colton Sissons for the team lead in points with fourteen.
Austin Watson picked up the game-winning goal off of a rebound effort near the midway point of the third period. His linemates, Zach Budish and Kevin Henderson, set him up on the play with a puck to the net that Checkers netminder Rob Madore spilled out. Watson was there to backhand the rebounder and give the Ads their first lead in regulation since 11/19 against Abbotsford Heat. The Ads held on tight to the 2-1 lead all the way until the final horn.
The win in net goes to Scott Darling who started the back half of this two-in two in Charlotte.
“He’s a confident guy,” said Drulia of Scott Darling. “He wants to play. He’s battling for minutes. Obviously, Magnus [Hellberg] is the guy right now and we have to find a way to get him going so he’s ready in case Nashville needs him. Darling’s buying his time. He gets his opportunity today. I thought we were really good in front of him.”
Darling’s game in this one was real solid. While the team in front of him kept the shot totals down he managed to stop 17-18 shots on goal. The lone goal he did allow came right after the Checkers were given a full two-minutes worth of five-on-three power-play. If not for that lone lapse, we may well be talking about Darling posting back-to-back shutouts in games he has started in.
The upcoming schedule for the Ads will see a decent rest period for the team. The next game is Friday at home against the Oklahoma City Barons. They will then have nearly another week off when they play those same Barons at home the following Thursday. Tired bodies will no doubt get healed up. Practice regarding the team’s recent offensive and power-play struggles will also no doubt be worked on. It should be a productive next two weeks for the team with a light break in an intense AHL schedule.
Thoughts on today’s game? How would you rate Salomaki’s season to this point? Would you like to see more of Scott Darling in net? How do you feel this upcoming stretch of off days for the Ads can impact the team?
The Admirals lost 4-1 against the Charlotte Checkers Saturday night. This wasn’t a pretty one at all. The Checkers came to life in the second period and held off the Admirals for the majority of this game. The lone consolation goal for the Ads came from Miikka Salomaki who picked up his fourth of the season. That was that as far as the Ads were concerned, and they’ll need to reload quickly because these two meet again tomorrow afternoon.
“It was a slow game,” said Milwaukee Admirals assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on Sports Radio 1250 WSSP. “There was no pace. Pretty lifeless by both teams. Then they got the goal, and then the power-play goal off the face off. We just couldn’t really find ourselves after that at all.”
Charlotte scored the opening goal in the second period through Chris Terry’s team best eighth goal of the season. The Checkers broke out of their zone lead by Zach Boychuk who dished it off to Brett Sutter who then crossed paths and teed up Terry for the goal.
After a slow opening period and a flat start to the second period, Mike Liambas took to the fighting stage in hopes he could ignite a fire in his team. He went toe-to-toe with Matthew Corrente and this sounded like a decent bout for the always fearless Liambas. This fight here may also have played part in a later scrum in the game.
After a boarding penalty against Kevin Henderson, the Checkers scored very quickly off a power-play goal from Boychuk to make it a 2-0 game. Eight seconds into the power-play the Checkers won the draw, passed around the puck, and Boychuk’s wrister beat Magnus Hellberg who possibly never even saw the puck.
“We floundered a little bit with our identity,” said Drulia. “I didn’t think we competed as hard as we usually do.”
Then things got ugly on the ice. Liambas took a run along the boards that drew a charging penalty but was then jumped by two Checkers players. Also in the mix of the scrum was Mathieu Tousignant who sounded as if he was being pounded against the ice. Hopefully some highlights from tonight’s game kick up so this incident can be more visualized to me. Based on Aaron Sim’s call though, the take down from behind on Liambas and Tousignant’s head against the ice, a few things there sounded very very bad. The net result of this scrum: Liambas, two-minutes for charging and five for fighting. Nicolas Blanchard, ten-minute game misconduct for third man in. Matthew Corrente, four-minutes on a double minor for roughing. Matt Marquardt, five-minutes for fighting.
In the third period the Checkers tagged the Ads off of another goal from the top of the circle to push the lead to 3-0. This go-round Justin Shugg blasted a shot from the left circle that beat the screen of Jared Staal and Hellberg in net.
Consolation goal for the Ads came after a faceoff win from Colton Sissons set up Miikka Salomaki in the slot for his fourth goal of the season. Salomaki’s shot pinged hard off the crossbar and down. It needed video review to determine if the puck did in fact cross the line. It did, and the score was drawn back to a 3-1 Checkers lead with 10:59 remaining in the third period.
Nothing came off from there for the Ads. Charlotte capped off the game with a late empty net goal from Aaron Palushaj. That finished off a 4-1 defeat of a very sluggish Admirals team that will look to fight back quickly tomorrow afternoon.
“Good,” said Drulia about facing the Checkers so soon tomorrow afternoon. “I hope [this game] is fresh in [the Admirals] minds.”
Thoughts on tonight’s performance? Are you more worried about the Ads’ ability to score goals or defend at this point? What has happened to the team that started the year so hot? What is missing? And how can that be implemented so quickly into tomorrow afternoon’s rematch?