A Very Roundtable Easter

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Remember that one time when there were like teddies and hats raining from every which way? That was awesome. (Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

Happy Easter Sunday, everyone! Hope all of you have been doing very well and can kick back and enjoy yourself today.

I am working on a few stories for the start of the work week. I have my 2013-14 Regular Season Player Grades, a feature story on Taylor Beck, an Admirals story for our friends at Smashville 24/7 that will turn up on Monday, and I’m sure I will venture to a practice or two ahead of the Admirals home playoff games this coming weekend.

What’s that? You didn’t know the games were already scheduled? Fear not. I gotcha:

Friday, Apr. 25 vs. Toronto: 7:00 pm CST
Saturday, Apr. 26 vs. Toronto: 7:00 pm CST
Thursday, May 1 @ Toronto: 6:00 pm CST
Saturday, May 3 @ Toronto: 2:00 pm CST
Sunday, May 4 @ Toronto: 2:00 pm CST

The opening round is of course split as such: two games – three games. It is up to the top seeded team to determine whether they would like to start at home for two games or finish the best-of-five at home for three games. Typically, quite possibly every time, the top seed chooses the final three. That’s was announced as the case last night. Games in Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday. Games in Toronto next week Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. The final two games are, of course, if necessary.

What I would like to ask you all for a “Question of the Day” is what do you feel was the best of the best this season? What was the best goal, play, game, moment, or story that you think came up during the Admirals 2013-14 season?

For me, there are plenty of things that come to mind: Scott Darling or Vinny Saponari’s surprise performances this season, Colton Sissons and Miikka Salomaki’s fantastic rookie campaigns, Mark Van Guilder’s first career NHL call up and game, and much much more.

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Wolves Shutout Admirals 6-0, Playoff Picture Set

(Photo Credit: Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

The AHL’s top goalie has delivered the goods against the Milwaukee Admirals all season long. Jake Allen’s seventh shutout wasn’t even the true bright spot for the Chicago Wolves in their 6-0 win tonight in Rosemont. (Photo Credit: Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

The Admirals were shutout 6-0 by Jake Allen and the Chicago Wolves Saturday night in Rosemont. The Admirals sat out a few of their top players for this game, held things together through the first period, and were promptly throttled the rest of the night by the Amtrak Rivals.

“That’s obviously not the way we wanted to end [the regular season] with the outcome today,” said assistant coach Stan Drulia following the game on 1250 Sports Radio WSSP. “But, we’ve had a really good finish here. The guys are playing really good hockey. The regular season is now behind us and we have to move forward.”

In the first period the Wolves came out with speed. They had their chances, outshooting the Admirals 17-6 in the opening frame, but goaltender Scott Darling made some incredible saves to keep things scoreless through the first period. You can consider that, all things considered, as a small victory for the Admirals – who sat out some top players in tonight’s contest.

The Wolves eventually got their reward from a shorthanded goal. A poor exchange between Anthony Bitetto and Taylor Beck in neutral ice led to a Sebastian Wannstrom breakaway. The Swede went backhand-forehand and managed to reach around the outstretched body of Darling for his fifth goal of the season. That was the Wolves twelfth shorthanded goal of the season and the thirteenth shorty that the Admirals have allowed all season.

Ty Rattie continued his impressive rookie campaign by reaching the thirty-goal plateau. Admirals d-man Jonathan Diaby had a puck knuckle up on him in the attacking blue line. Rattie poked it free and was off to the races with Charles-Oliver Roussel in pursuit. Rattie stayed to the right wing and fired to the short-side to beat Darling. Rattie becomes the first member of the Wolves to hit thirty goals since Mark Mancari did it in the 2011-12 season.

Rattie wasn’t done there. A great transition by the Wolves led to a one-two played about between Christian Hanson and the stellar rookie. When Hanson’s pass reached the tape of Rattie – there wasn’t much space between himself and Darling but still found a move to beat him five hole for his second goal of the game and thirty-first of the season.

In the third period the bounces just kept falling right for the Wolves. Roussel’s attempted clearing attempt fell to Eric Selleck. The moment that puck appeared in front of him he was letting a shot loose. That rapid choice to fire surprised Darling and a puck went sailing past his mask and in for Selleck’s fifth goal of the season.

The rout continued when Shane Harper picked the pocket of Joonas Rask on the backcheck. His lead pass to the center-lane drive of Michael Davies was pinpoint. All Davies had to do was flip it up and over the big frame of Darling, which he did, for his thirteenth goal of the season.

With Scott Ford just exiting the box following a successful Admirals penalty kill – Selleck scored his sixth goal of the season and second of the game. The initial point shot by Jani Hakanpaa was kicked out by Darling right to the net front presence of Selleck. The net was open, Darling couldn’t recover, and it became a massive 6-0 scoreline for the Wolves.

The game would end there and meant that Jake Allen, this year’s Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award winner as the league’s most outstanding goaltender, took the lead for shutouts this season with seven. Entering tonight’s game he was tied with Darling at six-shutouts. Allen may not have needed to do too much tonight but he stopped all twenty shots he faced tonight. His performances against the Admirals this season have just been lethal.

The win for the Wolves, paired with a shootout loss by the Griffins, meant that the Amtrak Rivals won the Midwest Division tonight. Grand Rapids led the division for 167-days until tonight’s decisive switch in the standings.

The loss by the Admirals meant their streak of consecutive forty-win seasons ended at ten-straight. The loss also meant they will be the sixth seed in the Western Conference standings and are going to play against the Toronto Marlies in the first round of the playoffs. The first two games will be played in Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday.

“We’ve been preparing the last week for three teams that we thought we could possibly play,” said Drulia. “Now we have it narrowed down. We know exactly what’s going on. We know what our schedule is. There is no easy match up. But we’re excited. We are really looking forward to it. I thought our young guys and our group have come a long way this year. They’ve played all seventy-six games to get this opportunity to get to the playoffs. We’re excited about that.”

Ramblings: After rolling out the expected playoff line combinations last night we saw a different look tonight in Chicago: Beck-Sissons-Moser, Wathier-Van Guilder-Watson, Salomaki-Tousignant-Saponari, Pimm-Pendenza-Rask, Bitetto-Piskula, Vainonen-Ford, Diaby-Roussel. That meant no Forsberg, Jarnkrok, Cehlin, Liambas, Jarvinen, Rodney, or Valentine tonight.

Does this loss concern you? Would the result have been different with the Swedes and top defensemen playing? What are your expectations for an opening round playoff match-up against Toronto?

Posted in Game Recaps | 2 Comments

Regular Season Home Finale In Pictures

Rather than do a “Scouting the Enemy” on the Chicago Wolves, something we have done a fair bit this month, I want to give a shout out to Milwaukee Admirals lead photographer Scott Paulus. There are typically a few good photos for me to choose from for my game recaps and other stories that follow. Last night? Every photo he took was stunning.

This post is for you readers, who can get a new Admirals desktop in time for the playoffs, and for Mr. Paulus – who is just great.

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What do you anticipate from tonight’s game? Can the Admirals top the Wolves in Chicago? Is the five-game winning streak going to extend itself into the playoffs?

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 32

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The Milwaukee Admirals hit center ice and salute the crowd following their 5-1 victory over the Charlotte Checkers Friday night. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

My title from yesterday’s game story was “The Power of Power.” What was I referring to? Well, the almighty words of Jeremy Clarkson of course. POWER! … I digress. Actually, the Admirals last night went full-strength with their playoff arsenal of forwards and simply blew the Charlotte Checkers to smithereens.

The Checkers were in full playoff survival mode last night. They entered the game as the ninth seed of the Western Conference needing to win out their season, and get some luck, to stand a chance of passing the Oklahoma City Barons for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Checkers were in last night’s game for about the first three minutes or so. Then the Admirals tilted the ice, rolled the freight train of four talented forward lines, and grinded the Checkers playoff hopes to nothingness. You would never have known, having watched that game start to finish, that the Checkers were the ones playing desperately for their spot in the playoffs.

The Admirals have now won five-straight games. In eight April games they have only lost once. Players returned from Nashville, from injury, and have all been crafted into the lineup with time to knock off the rust and become a well oiled machine as the playoffs arrive this coming week.

There is so much to be excited about with this Admirals team right now. Need some sort of proof? Last night the Admirals had nothing to play for and their opponent was in a must win scenario. It looked systematic for the Admirals in their 5-1 victory over the Checkers. Imagine how the Admirals can play when they are the ones in the must win scenario that is playoff hockey.

After the game I had the opportunity to speak with Dean Evason, Anthony Bitetto, Taylor Beck, and Joonas Jarvinen. Here is what everyone was talking about following the regular season home finale.

Dean Evason speaks about the Admirals success on home ice:


Evason on how Marek Mazanec has improved of late:


Evason’s thoughts of having four solid forward lines to call upon:


Evason’s impressions of Taylor Beck’s goal and more:


Anthony Bitetto on scoring his second goal of 2014:


Bitetto’s thoughts about the Admirals:


Bitetto talks about the team’s depth:


Bitetto’s thoughts in regard to scoreboard watching:


Taylor Beck on his highlight reel goal:


Beck’s thoughts about how well the team has played at home this season:


Beck speaks about the team playing its strongest hockey at the right time:


Joonas Jarvinen’s thoughts on the 5-1 victory against Charlotte:


Jarvinen talks about how he has felt since returning from injury:


Jarvinen on the recent run heading into the playoffs:


Comments from the comments? Was Taylor Beck’s goal last night the top Admirals goal scored this season? Who has been an underrated performer during this recent run of form for the Ads?

Posted in Chatterbox | 2 Comments

The Power of Power, Admirals win 5-1

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There is a lot to celebrate right now – and, hopefully, in the weeks ahead. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals won 5-1 against the Charlotte Checkers Friday night. They have now won five straight games and are powering into the playoffs playing the best hockey they have played all season.

“We have four lines that could be -maybe- other teams first lines,” said Taylor Beck. “If we play four lines like we’re going to and just keep rolling – the way we’re playing right now we’re peaking at the right time for playoffs for sure.”

A line combination that proved to be really successful for the Admirals was reunited tonight: Francis Wathier, Mark Van Guilder, and Austin Watson. In the late goings of the first period Watson continued his recent goal scoring surge with his twenty-second goal of the season. The Ads were jamming the net and a loose puck made its way to Wathier in front of netminder John Muse. Rather than take a shot – Wathier lightly passed behind the net to put Watson on a wrap around where he would come out on the other side and whip a wrister home for the game’s opening goal.

“It was certainly fun up front,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of the forward group tonight. “We planned on kind of checking and doing what we’re going to do to start the playoffs. And then we just started rolling the lines. I’d be hard pressed to find a number one line on our group right now.”

Miikka Salomaki reached the twenty-goal plateau in the second period. He received a beauty of a pass from Mathieu Tousignant that found him on the tape. Tousignant was stationed in the right wing pocket, fired a pass through traffic, and Salomaki popped it home.

Then some bouncy fun times going the Admirals way. A skipping puck went from behind the net to the front of Muse in net. Filip Forsberg was in the right place to swat in the loose puck for his fifteenth goal of the season. Picking up an assist on that play was Calle Jarnkrok – which extends his AHL point streak to six games – all of which came with the Admirals since his trade from the Detroit Red Wings organization.

The final regular season home game may have provided us with the goal of the season out of the Admirals. Taylor Beck took a pass heading towards neutral ice from Bryan Rodney. The rest was all down to Beck. He undressed Rasmus Rissanen, was in on goal, and cut back to the near post on the forehand to beat Muse for his seventeenth goal of the season. It was just a stunning individual effort from Beck.

With plenty going against them, and the ice practically tilted in the Admirals favor, the Checkers tallied a goal with eleven-seconds remaining in the second period to make it a 4-1 game. Zach Boychuk’s shot on Marek Mazanec was spilled out into net front traffic. The final decisive touch to beat Mazanec would come from defenseman Ryan Murphy for his second goal of the season.

The last time Anthony Bitetto scored a goal was on 12/29/13 in Iowa. Why not break the drought in the regular season home finale? Forsberg was gaining the attention of the Checkers while on the puck from the left wing. He found Bitetto racing in from the point, fed him, and the New Yorker carried down the slot before letting the wrist shot fly for his eleventh goal of the season.

“We’ve got a good team,” said Anthony Bitetto. “I said that a couple of weeks ago. I believe that we have something special and it’s starting to show.”

The game would finish at the 5-1 scoreline with Mazanec continuing to shine for the Admirals. He stopped twenty-nine of thirty shots on goal en route to his eighteenth win of the season and fourth in a row. Not a bad way to follow up a night where you receive your CCM/AHL Player of the Week award before puck drop.

“He’s competing,” said Evason of Mazanec’s recent performances. “He’s competing. He’s fresh. A lot like our group. They’ve continued to develop and learn throughout the season and get better. [Mazanec] is hopefully peaking at the right time going into the playoffs.”

Ramblings: Mark Van Guilder returned to the lineup after missing six games due to a lower-body injury. In truth, this is the roster and line combinations I expect to see in the playoffs… Beck-Sissons-Moser, Forsberg-Jarnkrok-Cehlin, Wathier-Van Guilder-Watson, Salomaki-Tousignant-Saponari. Tonight’s scratches were… Diaby, Vainonen, Pendenza, Pimm, Liambas, Roussel, and Rask. Of the scratch list only Liambas was due to injury. With the loss tonight – the Charlotte Checkers are officially eliminated from the playoffs.

Thoughts on tonight’s win? Is this team getting on fire at the right time of the season? What is this team’s top line? Does it matter who the Admirals play in the first round of the playoffs?

Posted in Game Recaps | 7 Comments

Travis Morin named the 2013-14 AHL MVP

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Travis Morin of the Texas Stars has officially won the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 season. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The final award from this season has been announced and, no real surprise, the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 season has been bestowed to Travis Morin of the Texas Stars.

Morin has been at the heart of the high-powered Stars this entire season and should easily take home the league’s scoring title: 87 points (32 goals, 55 assists). The next closest players in scoring, Zach Boychuk and T.J. Brennan, are a solid 15 points behind with both players having played more games in the AHL than Morin this season.

AHL’s Press Release:

Since notching four points on opening night, Morin has been the American Hockey League’s leading scorer wire-to-wire in 2013-14 and has 32 goals and 55 assists for 87 points with a plus-16 rating in 65 games with Texas heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Leading the offense for the regular-season champion Stars, Morin has nearly doubled his 44-point output from a year ago while setting franchise records for assists and points in a season. The CCM/AHL Player of the Month in both October and January, Morin began the season on a 10-game scoring streak and has gone without a point in consecutive games on just four occasions all year. He took part in the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic in February and was named a 2013-14 First Team AHL All-Star last week.

A seventh-year pro from Brooklyn Park, Minn., Morin has also appeared in four games with the Dallas Stars this season, picking up an assist for his first career NHL point. In 349 career AHL games with Texas and Hershey, Morin has totaled 99 goals and 196 assists for 295 points, and he is the Stars franchise’s all-time leader in goals (99), assists (195), points (294) in 344 contests with the club.

The AHL’s most valuable player award honors the late Les Cunningham, a member of the AHL Hall of Fame who was a five-time league All-Star and three-time Calder Cup champion with the Cleveland Barons. Previous winners of the award include Carl Liscombe (1948, ’49), Johnny Bower (1956, ’57, ’58), Fred Glover (1960, ’62, ’64), Mike Nykoluk (1967), Gilles Villemure (1969, ’70), Doug Gibson (1975, ’77), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Ross Yates (1983), Paul Gardner (1985, ’86), Tim Tookey (1987), Jody Gage (1988), John Anderson (1992), Don Biggs (1993), Derek Armstrong (2001), Jason LaBarbera (2004), Jason Spezza (2005), Darren Haydar (2007), Keith Aucoin (2010), Corey Locke (2011), Cory Conacher (2012) and Tyler Johnson (2013).

Out of curiosity, who would you pen as the Milwaukee Admirals MVP from the 2013-14 season? I think there are a few names that could easily be thrown into that discussion. Who would you pick?

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Checkers: Scouting the Enemy

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It has been awhile since we’ve seen these Charlotte Checkers. The last time we saw them? Late December. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Charlotte Checkers enter tonight’s game with a record of 37-34-1-2 (77 points). They are fourth in the high powered West Division and are ninth in the Western Conference standings.

The Checkers currently trail the final playoff seed, the Oklahoma City Barons, by 2 points. Including tonight’s game they have only have two games remaining. Both of those games are on the road. The Barons have two games left as well – but have the advantage of home ice for each of those contests to finish their regular season.

Depending on how the results shape out – the Admirals could well wrap up the playoff contenders from the Western Conference tonight with a win over the Checkers and a win by the Barons over the Iowa Wild (who they will see in both games).

The Ads and Checkers have played each other three-times this season. It’s been a long time since those games – so let’s look back.

Nov. 30 @ Charlotte: L, 4-1
Dec. 1 @ Charlotte: W, 2-1
Dec. 27 vs. Charlotte: L, 3-2

It’s a small package of games but the Checkers have the advantage from them. Mind you, it has been such a long time since those three games and both teams have really changed.

If you’re wondering about fighting majors, incidents, or long memory type situations that could find themselves turning up out of the blue out of the match up: Game 1, Mike Liambas charging and then fighting with Matt Marquardt with an addition of Nicolas Blanchard taking a third-man-in penalty… Game 2, Liambas and Blanchard settled the score from the first game with a bout… Game 3, nope nope nope.

Their top scorer this season is Zach Boychuk with 72 points (36 goals, 36 assists), a plus/minus rating of -8, and 55 penalty minutes. Boychuk has a crazy insane 18 goals scored on the power-play this season. That is the most in the AHL this season. The next closest to him in PPGs is Luke Adam of the Rochester Americans with 16.

A player who has always done rather well against the Milwaukee Admirals is left winger Chris Terry. This season he has 68 points (28 goals, 40 assists), 14 goals scored from the power-play, a plus/minus rating of -11, and 60 penalty minutes.

Nine. The Charlotte Checkers have played nine goalies during the 2013-14 season. Makes you feel pretty good about how the Admirals and Predators handled injury struggles this season right?

Out of the crop of goalies the Checkers have used – John Muse has been their top man between the pipes: 45 games played, 27 wins, 2.58 goals against average, 0.920 save percentage, and 5 shutouts this season.

Also, Rick DiPietro played 5 games for them this season. … That was the punchline.

The Milwaukee Admirals have a record of 38-23-6-7 (89 points). They are third in the Midwest Division and, after their 3-0 shutout victory in Iowa on Sunday, are fifth in the Western Conference standings.

Milwaukee has two remaining regular season games: the regular season home finale tonight – and the regular season finale on the road against the Chicago Wolves tomorrow night.

The team is completely loaded with talent right now. Colton Sissons returned to the Admirals. Simon Moser returned from injury. Calle Jarnkrok returned from Nashville. And, as I’ve witnessed during practice this week, everyone is healthy and skating.

The lone exception could be Liambas, who hasn’t played since setting the Admirals record for penalty minutes in a season on 4/8/14, but he is skating on his own (no contact). Mark Van Guilder is also back after a lower-body injury that has sidelined him since 4/1/14 – and he has participated in full practice sessions. The team is simply at its strongest form at the perfect time of the season.

Another thing that has been getting sharper and sharper as the season comes to a close is the Admirals goaltending. In the month of April – Marek Mazanec and Scott Darling have combined to stop 185 of 191 shots on goal from 7 games: 0.969 save percentage. A part of me likes the idea of having a “number one” for the playoffs. I’m starting to agree with head coach Dean Evason who told me not too long ago, “if both are playing extremely well – what’s the difference?”

What shall we expect from tonight’s game against the Charlotte Checkers? Do the Admirals start rolling out their big guns to get them rolling into the playoffs or should they still look to rest guys?

Posted in Scouting | 2 Comments

AHL Announces Two More Awards

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Chicago Wolves netminder Jake Allen’s great season has just been recognized by the AHL as he claims this season’s Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the league’s most outstanding goalie. (Photo Credit: Ross Bonander)

This afternoon the AHL announced the winners of the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award (AHL’s most outstanding goaltender) and the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award (2013-14 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year).

Jake Allen took home this season’s honors for the league’s best goaltender this season. Here in Milwaukee we have seen first hand in the Amtrak Rivalry this season just how lethal he can be to go head-to-head against: 8 games played, 6 wins, 2 shootout losses, 1.69 goals against average, 0.933 save percentage, and 1 shutout.

AHL’s Press Release:

Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Allen has a record of 32-16-3 in 51 appearances for the Wolves, helping them to a berth in the upcoming Calder Cup Playoffs. Allen ranks first in the AHL in victories, goals-against average (2.07) and save percentage (.927) as he bids to become just the second goaltender since 1984-85 to lead the league in all three categories. Allen is also pacing all goalies in minutes played (3,078) and is tied for first with six shutouts on the season, while ranking second in both shots faced (1,447) and saves (1,341).

A 23-year-old native of Fredericton, N.B., Allen represented the Wolves at the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic in St. John’s in February, and was named a First Team AHL All-Star last week. Selected by St. Louis in the second round (34th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Allen was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team last season after a successful 15-game stint with the Blues. Allen has played 171 career AHL games with Chicago and Peoria over his four pro seasons, compiling a record of 83-74-10 with a 2.55 GAA, a .917 save percentage and 15 shutouts.

The Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award, which was first presented in 1984, honors former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Baz Bastien, who played four seasons in goal with the AHL’s Pittsburgh Hornets (1945-49) before suffering a career-ending eye injury. Bastien would go on to serve as head coach and general manager of the Hornets, leading them to the 1967 Calder Cup championship. Previous winners of the award include Jon Casey (1985), Sam St. Laurent (1986), Mark Laforest (1987, 1991), Felix Potvin (1992), Corey Hirsch (1993), Manny Legace (1996), Martin Biron (1999), Dwayne Roloson (2001), Jason LaBarbera (2004, 2007), Ryan Miller (2005), Dany Sabourin (2006), Michael Leighton (2008), Cory Schneider (2009), Jonathan Bernier (2010), Brad Thiessen (2011), Yann Danis (2012) and Niklas Svedberg (2013).

The other award announced today was the one I had high hopes in which we could see Mark Van Guilder‘s name mentioned: the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award aka 2013-14 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. This distinction instead went to Eric Neilson of the Syracuse Crunch.

AHL’s Press Release:

This award has been presented annually since 1998 to an AHL player for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations. The Yanick Dupré Memorial Award winner is selected by the AHL and representatives from IOA and American Specialty from among 30 individual team Man of the Year honorees.

A six-time recipient of his team’s Yanick Dupré Award nomination (in five different AHL cities), Neilson has continued an impressive tradition of community service that has been a hallmark of his career. Since joining the Crunch organization in 2012, Neilson has gone above and beyond in his efforts to give back to the Syracuse community.

Neilson’s efforts this year were highlighted by his creation of the “Breakfast with a Champion” program, designing, developing and executing his initiative designed to teach elementary school students the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. Neilson was involved in every step of the program’s planning process, from pitching it to local schools to shopping for groceries to supplying students with tickets to Crunch games as rewards for their participation.

Neilson’s commitment to children was also seen in his work with as the primary speaker in the Crunch’s anti-bullying program, and as the team’s main spokesman for Upstate University Hospital including their “safe kids” public service initiative about concussion prevention. He dedicated time to issues such as men’s and women’s health causes also, generating awareness for breast cancer and heading up the team’s winning “Mustache Movember” team for prostate cancer research.

The AHL’s annual Man of the Year award is named after the late Yanick Dupré, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 24 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. A second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1991, Dupré played four seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears and was an AHL All-Star in 1995.

The final AHL award will be announced tomorrow. That award of course will be the Les Cunningham Award for AHL’s 2013-14 MVP.

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 31

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Calle Jarnkrok and Mark Van Guilder are on the same team now. And that’s great! (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Today’s practice was held at Wilson Park. I wasn’t on hand for that like I was yesterday’s practice -but- I did speak with a few players back at the locker room: Taylor Beck, Calle Jarnkrok, and Mark Van Guilder.

The majority of my talk today with Beck and Van was for a feature story on Mr. Beck that will be up on Roundtable Monday. Still, we were talking about the current state of the team as it enters the playoffs. Here is what everyone had to say this afternoon.

Taylor Beck on this year’s Admirals team:


Calle Jarnkrok discusses his time in Nashville:


Jarnkrok on if he expected to play this many games in the NHL this season:


Jarnkrok talks about he and Sissons scoring their first career NHL goals in the same game:


Jarnkrok’s thoughts on joining the Admirals playoff run:


Mark Van Guilder on the team being at its strongest at the right time of the year:


Van’s thoughts about watching the playoff standings:


Comments from the comments? Do you feel this is the strongest the Milwaukee Admirals have been all season long?

Posted in Chatterbox | 1 Comment

Checking in on the Cincinnati Cyclones

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Magnus Hellberg isn’t the lone member of the Milwaukee Admirals competing in this season’s ECHL playoffs for the Cincinnati Cyclones – but he could be a reason why they win it all. (Photo Credit: Tony Bailey)

While we’re in our own little playoff mode in Milwaukee – our friends in Cincinnati, the Cyclones, are preparing for game one of the first round of the ECHL playoffs tonight.

The Cyclones finished the regular season with a record of 41-23-4-4 (90 points). That put them in second place of the North Division and the fifth seed in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference. They will be playing against the fourth seed Orlando Solar Bears in the first round match-up.

Among the players we’ve seen in Milwaukee at some point are: Josh Shalla, Paul Crowder, Zach BudishBarry Almeida, Taylor Aronson, and Magnus Hellberg.

Aronson has played the most games of that group this season for Cincinnati (65) and has totaled 38 points (6 goals, 32 assists), a plus/minus rating of +28, and 57 penalty minutes. The top scorer of that group is Crowder with 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists). A player who we saw in pre-season camp, Almeida, has played in 47 games, scored 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists), has a plus/minus rating of +6, and 23 penalty minutes.

For those who we have seen with the Admirals this season: Shalla has played in 29 games, scored 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists), has a plus/minus of +20, and 11 penalty minutes. Budish has played in 16 games, scored 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists), has a plus/minus of -4, and 6 penalty minutes.

Then we have our ol’ bobblehead day buddy Hellberg who, since returning from his January lower-body injury, has been with the Cyclones in the ECHL. He has played in 7 games since then, won 5 games, lost one game in regulation, and lost one game in overtime. He has a 2.89 goals against average with a 0.901 save percentage.

The Cyclones finished the season as the top scoring team in the ECHL with 247 goals scored. The next closest teams were the Alaska Aces (243) and the Florida Everblades (240). The Cyclones are also the best disciplined team in the ECHL with a league low 839 penalty minutes taken. They enter tonight’s first playoff game on a run of 6-2-2-0 (14 points) in their last 10 games played.

How do you feel our ECHL club will fair in the playoffs? What do you make of the Admirals that have played with them this season? Any surprises – positive or negative? Could Hellberg be a key for them in a deep playoff run?

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