Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Milwaukee Admirals)

I really hope that the Milwaukee Admirals are able to hit the target with their shots despite being dressed as Stormtroopers this weekend. (Photo Credit: Milwaukee Admirals)

It’s about time that the Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Griffins finally squared off against one-another. It feels like it has been far too long. The Admirals have already played 17 games on the season. You have to go back to the 2007-08 season for the last time the Admirals met the Griffins this deep into a regular season. At that time the two were in different divisions, Admirals (West Division) and Griffins (North Division), and it was the game #21 of the season for the Admirals. They were shutout that night at home 1-0 in a goaltending match-up that featured Pekka Rinne versus Jimmy Howard. Not too shabby -but- I believe we’d all like to avoid such a result as that one.

~Rough Start~

The Griffins enter tonight’s game with a record of 6-8-0-1 (13 points). Their 0.433 points percentage sees them sitting in sixth place of the Central Division and third from the bottom in the entire Western Conference.

It was a really poor start to the season for the Griffins who went five games into this season before finally earning their first win. They were shutout twice in the first four games and currently sit on a goal differential of -10 (36 goals forced, 46 goals allowed).

What was to blame for the bad start? If you were to look at the Griffins roster there are so many returning faces from year’s past that have made them a high quality team. It’s sort of puzzling. Then again, the name that isn’t in Grand Rapids anymore than might be missing from their AHL outfit the most is their head coach of the last three-seasons Jeff Blashill. He is now the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings. With his promotion also came the promotion of Teemu Pulkkinen and Alexei Marchenko. That puts new Griffins bench boss, and former head coach of the Oklahoma City Barons and Edmonton Oilers, Todd Nelson in a slightly tough spot. But my guess is that, much like the Admirals, the Griffins had some early kinks to get through as far as familiarity goes. For the Admirals it was a player-to-player problem. For the Griffins it’s coming to grips with a new coach.

Since losing two-games in two-days in Lake Erie, the Griffins appear to have found their polished identity once more and are currently on a four-game winning streak.

This winning streak has looked as such: 3-2 win vs. Rockford… 7-4 win vs. San Diego… 2-1 win @ Chicago… 5-1 win vs. Iowa. The Griffins have: outscored opponents 17-8, outshot opponents 128-127, and gone 5/18 on the power-play (27.8%) and 15/17 on the penalty kill (88.2%).

During the four-game winning streak for the Griffins they’ve seen quality performances by a number of players: Tomas Jurco, 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists)… Andreas Athanasiou, 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists)… Mitch Callahan, 5 (3 goals, 2 assists)… Eric Tangradi, 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists)… Robbie Russo, 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists)… Andy Miele, 4 points (0 goals, 4 assists).

~AHL Player of the Week~

It will be worth highlighting the current AHL Player of the Week in tonight’s game. He’ll be the man rocking the number 28 on the ice for the Griffins, Jurco.

Press Release via AHL:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Grand Rapids Griffins left wing Tomas Jurco has been selected as the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 22, 2015.

Jurco joined the Griffins on a conditioning loan from the Detroit Red Wings and injected life into the Grand Rapids offense, tallying three goals and four assists for seven points – including assists on all three game-winning goals – while helping the club to victories over three Western Conference powers.

In his first AHL appearance of the season on Wednesday, Jurco helped set up the winning goal with 9:49 left in regulation as Grand Rapids defeated Rockford, 3-2, to end the IceHogs’ 10-game points streak. On Friday, Jurco tied a franchise record with three power-play goals for his third career hat trick, part of a four-point effort to lead the Griffins over San Diego, 7-4. And on Saturday night, Jurco assisted on both Grand Rapids goals in a 2-1 win at Chicago, the Griffins’ third straight win after they had been 2-8-0-1 on the season entering the week.

Jurco, 22, had one assist in four NHL games with Detroit this season before joining the Griffins last week. A member of Grand Rapids’ Calder Cup championship team as a rookie in 2012-13, Jurco has gone on to play 103 games in the National Hockey League with the Red Wings, totaling 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points. Jurco, a native of Kosice, Slovakia, was a second-round draft choice by Detroit (35th overall) in 2011 and has registered 30 goals and 37 assists for 67 points in 109 AHL games with Grand Rapids.

~Familiar Friend~

Tonight will mark the return of Triston Grant to Milwaukee since he signed on with the Griffins this past off-season. It feels like Grant really does have two places he can comfortably call home, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids. He has played a total of 328 games for both clubs (202 with the Admirals, 126 with the Griffins).

Sadly, it looks as if some sort of injury is keeping this ol’ relie from getting back on the ice. Grant has yet to play a game for the Griffins in the 2015-16 season. He might be added to the injury list of familiar faces that played with the Admirals last season but missed out on playing in Milwaukee early this season: Mike Liambas and Joe Piskula.

~Between the Pipes~

This season the Griffins have a clean split at the goaltending department with both Tom McCollum and Jared Coreau having logged 8 games in net each. McCollum leads the way with 8 starts this season but was yanked from the net after an abysmal seven-minutes against the San Antonio Rampage. McCollum went 6/9 in saves beforing giving way to Coreau who would stop all 22 shots he’d face for the rest of that game.

That’s essentially the story for the goaltending as a whole for the Griffins, too. Coreau has shown better results than his more seasoned AHL goaltending partner McCollum. Coreau has earned a record of 4-2-0-1, 2.78 goals against average, and 0.915 save percentage. McCollum has a record of 2-6-0-0 (losing his first 6 starts consecutively), 2.83 goals against average, and 0.907 save percentage. As far as who gets tabbed with starting duties tonight against the Admirals it is a clean toss up.

Which winning streak lives another day, Admirals or Griffins? Will the Admirals losing Colton Sissons to the Nashville Predators stretch the team or could a returning Stevie Moses be a boost? Would you prefer to have a player up with the Admirals to serve as a flex option at forward or should the roster stay bare bones with players remaining active and performing with the Cincinnati Cyclones at the ECHL level?

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Colton Sissons Returning to Nashville

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The Captain is going back up to the Nashville Predators where he just enjoyed a very successful NHL stint. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The Nashville Predators have opted to spend their Thanksgiving by making a roster move that will see Milwaukee Admirals captain Colton Sissons returning to the team. This recall for Sissons comes after Paul Gaustad was banged up in last night’s Predators 3-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres. In addition, the Predators have also placed Miikka Salomäki on injured reserve.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (November 26, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has recalled forward Colton Sissons from Milwaukee (AHL) and placed forward Miikka Salomaki on Injured Reserve.

Sissons, 22 (11/5/93), has appeared in five games for the Predators this season, scoring a goal and posting a plus-four rating in his season debut on Nov. 10 vs. Ottawa. In 22 career NHL contests, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound center has posted five points (2g-3a), a plus-five rating and nine penalty minutes. Named Milwaukee’s team captain for the 2015-16 season, the North Vancouver, B.C., native has amassed eight points (3g-5a) in 12 AHL games.

Nashville’s second choice, 50th overall (second round), in the 2012 Entry Draft, Sissons is on Twitter @Colton_es15.

The Nashville Predators wrap up a five-game road trip tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 p.m. CT, as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers (TV: FOX Sports Tennessee; Radio: 102.5 The Game). The team returns home to play the Buffalo Sabres at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, with a pregame ceremony to honor recent Hall of Fame inductee and Predators Assistant Coach Phil Housley. During “Golden Saturday” home contests, the team has special promotions, events, giveaways and in-arena campaigns centered around the “Gold” theme. All fans wearing Gold for the Nov. 18 game against Buffalo will receive a poster of Housley recognizing his accomplishments. For more information or to purchase tickets, fans can visit or call 615-770-7800.

It was made clear to Sissons when he last came down to Milwaukee that the coaching staff in Nashville was very impressed by his performances. He was sent down not due to his play but simply the numbers up top were forcing the Predators hand. With some banged up bodies changing that fact in the space of a week I think it is safe to say he’s back where he belongs right now.

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Eric Robinson Reassigned to Cincinnati

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

DANGER Eric Robinson DANGER is heading back to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. For those losing sight of it during this Milwaukee Admirals franchise record winning streak – the depth of this organization right now is tremendous. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals have reassigned Eric Robinson on loan to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. This move comes following the return of Colton Sissons from the Nashville Predators this past weekend and the expected return to game action of Stevie Moses after suffering an upper-body injury against the Chicago Wolves a week ago. Robinson had been a healthy scratch since Sissons’ return and did not play these last two games.

This season Robinson has been on fire when he takes to the ice. For the Cyclones at the ECHL level he had 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 6 games. For the Admirals he produced 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) in 5 games – including scoring points in his first 4 games straight. I get the impression this move is acted similarly to Sissons move down from Nashville to Milwaukee. It’s not a matter of performance that is dictating the move. It’s simply a matter of the numbers. The roster is forcing him out of game action. It’s far better to see him playing at a lower tier league than sitting out of games and only practicing. Keep the motor running and be ready when the chance to return is available. Same can be said of Sissons for his hard work in Nashville. Same can be said for Robinson for his efforts in Milwaukee.

The Cyclones are currently leading the Midwest Division in the ECHL’s Western Conference standings with a record of 9-3-1-1 (20 points). They’ve been outstanding this season and their goal differential speaks for itself: +14 (42 goals forced, 28 goals allowed). Expect that margin to grow now that Robinson is heading back ahead of tonight’s game in Cincinnati as they take on the Fort Wayne Komets.

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Chatterbox, Vol. 94

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The Milwaukee Admirals have learned from early struggles to achieve something that has never been done before in thirty-nine years worth of Admirals hockey: win ten games straight. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The Milwaukee Admirals setting franchise history really was the icing on the cake to last night’s 6-3 win over the San Antonio Rampage. That game really summed up the points streak as a whole pretty well, too.

The game was played in a variety of ways on a period-to-period-to-period basis and the Admirals managed to come out ahead with each style change. It was quite a sight seeing the game shift from defensively stout to a scrappy fight fest to an end-to-end track meet. With each wrinkle in the game the Admirals found ways to adjust and get the job done. That’s precisely what this winning streak has been all about.

~One Period At A Time~

In the first period of last night’s game the Admirals were held without a shot until there were less than six-minutes left in the frame. That first shot on goal was a long range toss off of Calvin Pickard‘s pads by Kristian Näkyvä that was taken from the left wing blue line in front of the Rampage’s bench. Pickard saw it the entire way. And it felt like that might be one of those sorts of nights. The Admirals were being outmuscled and forced out on the perimeter to even have a hope of a shot such as Näkyvä’s reaching Pickard.

If anything, the first period was almost summed up by an Admirals team spinning somewhere between neutral and reverse. Five minutes into the game and Näkyvä is in the penalty box for a high sticking minor. The good? The Admirals penalty kill does their dirty work and minimize quality looks against Juuse Saros. The bad? Right as the Näkyvä penalty is expiring Conor Allen takes a boarding minor to extend the power-play’s chances of finding the back of the net. That wound up costing the Admirals a power-play goal against.

There were so many times last season when the team would fall into a trap of getting into penalty trouble and then never really recovering. What I mean by that is the extended penalty kill time would sit down certain lines, forwards, or defensemen that aren’t active on the penalty kill and they would get off-kilter and never really get back into the flow of the game. That’s an issue that looks to have been corrected this season. And you’ll find no better evidence of a response shown in the closing minutes of the first period.

Kevin Fiala had his wheels going and was making some gritty plays tight to Rampage defensemen last night. With his speed he was able to force a tripping penalty and get the Admirals a four-on-three power-play. Vladislav Kamenev wins the faceoff, Taylor Aronson receives the puck off the draw, waits, knows what he’s going to do but still waits, waits, passes to Viktor Arvidsson, and ker-blammo the game gets tied. Despite all the sloppy opening minutes, rough patch with discipline, and a power-play goal allowed the Admirals leveled the playing field. They regained their footing on the first sign that there was a chance to do so.

Before the Rampage can really take a moment they’re back on a penalty kill and allowing another power-play goal to Arvidsson. From behind held without a shot for the majority of the first period while trailing to holding a 2-1 lead. That’s this year’s Admirals team. It doesn’t matter what happened a shift or two ago. It doesn’t matter if they allowed a goal. Keep playing Admirals hockey and the ship will right itself in due time.

Then this game became took a different direction. The ice appeared to open up and, before you knew it, a 2-1 Admirals lead became a 4-2 Admirals lead. Pontus Åberg and Borna Rendulic score forty-six seconds apart from one-another. Play continues to be loosening up with chances at both ends and then Cody Bass tees up Colton Sissons right as he gets up off the Admirals bench and scores.

This is when things changed for the rest of the second period. Can the Admirals play a more defensive style game? Yes, they’ve shown that they can tighten up and lean on their goaltending lately. Can they win a fast moving skilled game? Yes, and I think the forwards love that big number on the scoreboard while the coaches hate it. But what about a dirty, in the trenches, muscle-bound slugfest? The Admirals of this season haven’t fully engaged in one of those yet.

Perhaps it was that line of thinking that inspired Daniel Maggio to challenge Jamie Devane to a fight all while Max Görtz was trucked into the Admirals attacking zone. Hey, Maggio’s fighting track record against the Admirals isn’t too bad: 2/21/13 vs. Mike Liambas1/3/14 vs. Liambas… 1/4/14 vs. Joonas Järvinen10/25/14 vs. Triston Grant2/3/15 vs. Liambas… 2/17/15 vs. Grant… 3/4/15 vs. Jonathan Diaby

So, with history like this, Maggio hoping to provide energy to the Rampage bench all while turning the game into a more scrappy game made sense… at the time… in his head… I’m guessing… if he remembers.

Why did the second period escalate the way that it did? This. It’s one thing to challenge an opponent to a fight in the hopes of changing the flow of the game or re-energizing your bench. It’s another thing to do that and not only lose but to get knocked out. Make no mistake about it. Maggio was knocked out cold. His legs gave out and what snapped him back to our realm of consciousness was when he smacked the ice after getting tagged with a solid uppercut right on the point of the jaw as his head was ducking lower from the abuse Devane was giving him with the right hand.

From there the bench goes from a slight high, seeing Maggio looking to change the course of the game, to an immediate low knowing their bruiser’s attempt of altering the energy and style of the game was a failure. Tempers boil. And that’s when stupid things take place on the ice.

As a puck rimmed around the boards during an Admirals attack Adam Payerl was caught chasing a puck with his head down. The puck was flying away from the net, close to the Rampage bench, and potentially ending an Admirals offensive cycle. Duncan Siemens, fresh off the bench, attempted to take advantage of Payerl while he was more focused on the puck. He squared him up and Payerl dodged the brunt of the heavy hit attempt only getting sideswiped in the process. After the replay was shown it was very clear that Siemens was leading with his right knee all the way in as Payerl was approaching and tried extending his further out as Payerl tried avoiding the check. Fully aware of that, it caused Round II to break out and may have even been a small cause of why there was a Round III thirty-eight seconds later between Bass and Sam Henley. A game that was defensively minded went from being open-ended to a grinder in moments.

What came of all those penalty minutes for the Rampage? They did score a goal with forty-two seconds remaining in the period which made it a one-goal game. So, heading into the second intermission, if you’re the Rampage you might be feeling better knowing the style match-up just went further into your own comfort zone than that of the Admirals. That feeling and what actually happened of course are two completely different things.

The game once more opened up and the Admirals played fantastically well on all three levels of the game: goaltending, defense, and offense. The goals that were scored in the third period to cement the tenth successive win were done at such a high pace – both with the primary assists and goal scoring. Devane forces a turnover, sauces up high, and Félix Girard bats a puck out of mid-air to net his first goal of the year. Max Reinhart wins a footrace down the right wing, stops, and both Allen and Fiala were wide open as the Rampage froze with Reinhart. Allen jumped up on the play, as a Nashville Predators defenseman would typically do, and finished off his chance and Pickard’s night in net from his first career goal with the Admirals.

The game was done from then on. All that was left to do was kick back and remember that franchise history was just made. Through all the momentum swings, style changes, and battles the Admirals adapted and came out on top through each and every swerve that game had. This is not the Admirals that wilted from night’s like that a season ago. This team, for being the second youngest in the AHL this season, comes across battle tested.

There will no doubt come times down the line when bad losses come or perhaps an injury bug somewhere in the organization causes a temporary shuffle but keep last night’s game to memory because it says a lot about the Admirals character. Things can change in a blink and the Admirals will change with it and compete. For so early in the season to see such an attribute really excites me.


After the game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I also chatted with Girard, Allen, Sissons, and Bass. Here is what they had to say post-game.

With one more win the Admirals won’t just be extending their own history they’ll be tying the bench mark set by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL this season: an eleven-game winning streak. All that they’ll need to do is get past a resurgent Grand Rapids Griffins team to tie that mark and then follow it up with a repeat performance against an always tough Rockford IceHogs team to set the new gold standard for winning streaks in the AHL this season.

Through this run the Admirals haven’t had any cheap wins. All their opponents have matched up extremely well or better than the Admirals. Religious or not I simply advise you to read Proverbs 27:17. That’s the Admirals right now and it has been an exciting process to see going this well this early into a season.

Comments on the comments? What has impressed you the most about the Milwaukee Admirals as this winning streak has unfolded? Is this Admirals level of play sustainable throughout the course of this season? Are you regretting calling for Dean Evason and the rest of the coaching staff’s heads last season?

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Franchise History; Admirals Win Tenth Straight

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The Milwaukee Admirals have officially set a franchise record. Their 6-3 win tonight against the San Antonio Rampage at the BMO Harris Bradley Center was their tenth straight victory which breaks the record set last season in January.

“It’s fun to get results,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “But it’s more fun I think for the group to recognize that we can play any style of game.”

This game got off to a poor start with the end of last game trickling into the start. The Admirals were on the penalty kill quick due to a high stick minor by Kristian Näkyvä. Right as that penalty was getting set to expire Conor Allen was called for boarding. On the second chance from successive power-play opportunities the Rampage cashed in with a long range shot to the net by Maxim Noreau from the right point getting deflected by Marc-André Cliche and up past Juuse Saros. The goal for Cliche was his fourth of the season.

After a fight between Cody Bass and Duncan Siemens was prevented the two sides played four-on-four until Kevin Fiala’s wheels earned a tripping call and a four-on-three Admirals power-play chance. They won the faceoff, Taylor Aronson patiently waited to feed Viktor Arvidsson’s wicked one-timer, and the Swede cranked his slap shot past Calvin Pickard to extend his AHL best points streak to thirteen games off his sixth goal of the season.

It wouldn’t be long before the Admirals rough first period would see a complete turn-around before hitting the first intermission. The Admirals didn’t have a shot on goal until the final six minutes of the frame but another power-play off of a tripping minor provided yet another goal on the man-advantage. Vladislav Kamenev made a charge towards the front of the net off the right side of the cage and, in the process, lost the handle of the puck which fell out into the slot. Who was there to do the damage? Arvidsson, of course, with his seventh goal of the season. He scored two power-play goals in 2:20 of ice time.

The Admirals would get a non-power-play goal to open up the second period. Their passing appeared to lull the Rampage to sleep and, when the puck made its way to Félix Girard, the puck watching cost them a third successive goal against. Girard easily connected to Pontus Åberg on the opposite post for a tap in and his fourth goal of the season.

The puck watching flipped opposite ends as forty-six seconds later it would be the Rampage lighting the lamp. A long puck carry and eventual shot by Colin Smith hit off of the leg of the net front screen of Borna Rendulic and past Saros to make it a one-goal contest. The tally for Rendulic was his second goal of the season.

Midway through the second period the Admirals captain would restore the two-goal lead. Colton Sissons was flying in from the right point and Bass picked him out in stride. Sissons measured up Pickard’s glove side and whipped a wrister past him for his third goal of the season.

A casual stroll into the attacking zone for Max Görtz was interrupted by a heavyweight fight between Jamie Devane and Daniel Maggio. The two locked up the collars and went to work. Devane started getting some flush fists through and managed to knock Maggio out cold from a solid uppercut. Maggio crashed to the ice almost face first and needed to be assisted off the ice by a pair of Rampage teammates. Bruce Buffer, somewhere around the world, announced it as a first round knockout.

Perhaps looking to sway some energy back into his outfit by making a huge hit, Siemens came off the Rampage bench and attempted to clobber an unsuspecting Adam Payerl as a loose puck made its way up the boards towards neutral. Siemens extended his knee at Payerl who dodged the brunt of the check but still got sideswiped. Payerl headed back to confront Siemens and the two had at it. Nowhere near as theatrical as the first tilt but even none-the-less.

It only took thirty-eight seconds of ice time before the next fight took place. In a post-whistle scrum Bass dropped the gloves with Sam Henley. It wasn’t all that much of a bout as he two were scrambling throughout and fell down to cap it off. I score that tilt two Ben Rothwell’s out of ten.

“That’s hockey,” said Cody Bass of the fights in the second period. “They’re a desperate team. I give [Daniel Maggio] a lot of credit. He’s trying to spark his team and I think other guys are too. I’m proud of our guys and proud of our team. We rose to the occasion.”

In the final minute of the sandwich stanza Rendulic picked up his second goal of the period. He made a great effort to fight through persistent pressure by Allen, to which he was going to be penalized over, and outwaited Saros before firing a shot to the net. Saros was down and out. Rendulic’s snapshot was up and over the pad for his third goal of the season.

The third period provided some more brilliance in goal scoring in the third period and it came from a pair of players that picked up their first goals of the season.

A solid defensive play by Devane to pick the pocket of Mat Clark set up a tight two-on-two between himself, Girard, Chris Bigras, and Troy Bourke. Devane lofted a saucer pass in front of the net and over the diving Bigras that Girard was able to swat out of mid-air whilst battling shoulder-to-shoulder with Bourke and score.

Then came a play that would make the Nashville Predators really proud. Max Reinhart swooped down the right wing, hit the brakes, and found a defenseman leaping way up in the play to get a mini-breakaway. Allen was the man jumping up on the play and finished to perfection over the blocker shoulder of Pickard to net his first as a member of the Admirals. That would be the last play for Pickard in net as the Rampage would pull him for Roman Will.

“We had to play many different ways,” said Evason. “The fights, then it turned into a speed game, and a bit of a track meet. We were able to adjust within the game. Which is good. We didn’t lose our detail. No matter what happened.”

Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Milwaukee Admirals were: Stevie Moses (upper-body), Johan Alm (lower-body), and Eric Robinson (healthy). Both Moses and Alm were injured last week against the Chicago Wolves (11/14/15) and have missed the last three-games. Moses is expected to be available for the Admirals this coming weekend. Tonight’s line combinations were: Arvidsson-Sissons-Gaudreau, Fiala-Reinhart-Bass, Åberg-Kamenev-Payerl, Devane-Girard-Görtz, Allen-Oligny, Näkyvä-Aronson, Noonan-Murphy.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? Are you surprised with Nashville’s current lack of goal scoring that they haven’t attempted to recall Viktor Arvidsson?

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Rampage: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Now that he’s ended his goal drought, do you feel like Kevin Fiala is going to get on an offensively charged run in the scoring department? (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

History will be on the line tonight for the Milwaukee Admirals. They current are tied for a franchise record nine-game long winning streak. All that stands between them and setting a new franchise record is the San Antonio Rampage.

~The Ol’ Monsters~

The Rampage enter tonight’s game with a record of 9-2-5-0 (23 points). Their 0.719 points percentage is identical to that of the Admirals and are currently in second place in the Pacific Division – trailing the Ontario Reign on points percentage alone (0.786) with the reigning Calder Cup champions having played two less games than the Rampage.

The Rampage were yet another team that experienced an affiliation change this past off-season. They are no longer the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers. They are now affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche. That means, when thinking Rampage, you should be thinking about last season’s divisional rivalry against the Lake Erie Monsters. The Admirals went 5-2-2-1 (13 points) against the Monsters last season. Of the ten games played between the two – half of them went to overtime or a shootout.


With the Admirals and Rampage having played an equal number of games with the exact same points percentage it makes for some fun comparisons. The Rampage have scored more goals on the season (55 goals forced) than the Admirals (48 goals forced). Yet, the Admirals defense and goaltending has kept out less goals (42 goals allowed) than the Rampage (46 goals allowed).

The special teams differences between these two are rather drastic when setting the stage for tonight’s game…

The Rampage have the fifth best overall power-play in the AHL (20.9%) and are clocking in sixth in the AHL for road power-play despite being better on the road than at home (21.2%). Their overall penalty killing numbers (85.5%) sees them tenth in the AHL and their road penalty kill is also tenth in the league (85.7%).

The Admirals overall power-play comes in ninth in the AHL (19.5%) and have the seventh best home power-play (20.5%). Their overall penalty kill is twenty-eighth in the AHL (77.3%) and twenty-ninth at home (73.7%).

~Who What Now?~

There are some very familiar names on the Rampage roster that you’d recognize from last season on the Monsters: Andrew Agozzino, 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists)… Maxim Noreau, 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists)… Colin Smith, 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists)… Joey Hishon, 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists)… Trevor Cheek, 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists)… Michael Schumacher, 3 points (3 goals, 0 assists)… Duncan Siemens, 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist)… Patrick Bordeleau, 2 points (0 goals, 2 assists)… and Daniel Maggio, 0 points (19 penalty minutes).

Between Agozzino, Noreau, Smith, Hishon, Cheek, and Schumacher… the Rampage bring back points 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) worth of offense that did damage against the Admirals last season as members of the Monsters.

In net there is a clear cut number one in net, Chet‘s brother, Calvin Pickard. I don’t know what it is but Pickard is another one of those goalies that plays extrodinarily well against the Admirals. In his career against Milwaukee he has a 8-2-1-1 record, 2.26 goals against average, and a 0.909 save percentage.

Can the Admirals set a franchise record with a ten-game winning streak tonight? What do the Admirals need to do in order to see yet another win recorded tonight? With both goalies performing as well as they are, who do you start for the Admirals, and how do you make sure one doesn’t get cold by missing playing time?

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Nashville Acquire Petter Granberg on Waivers

(Photo Credit: Toronto Marlies)

(Photo Credit: Toronto Marlies)

The Nashville Predators acquired defenseman Petter Granberg from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization off of waivers this morning. The Swedish defenseman was teammates at Skellefteå with current Milwaukee Admirals players Viktor Arvidsson and Johan Alm. Granberg has been on injured reserve the entire 2015-16 season to date so no other reactionary roster moves are expected all that soon.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (November 22, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Sunday that the club has claimed defenseman Petter Granberg on waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Granberg, 23 (8/27/92), has yet to suit up in 2015-16 due to offseason surgery, but has eight NHL games to his credit with Maple Leafs (0 points, 6 penalty minutes) and 126 AHL games with the Toronto Marlies (3g-19a-22pts, 58 penalty minutes) since his first North American professional season in 2013-14. Prior to crossing the Atlantic, the 6-3, 201-pound blueliner split time between Skelleftea’s Swedish Hockey League and Junior League teams, winning an SHL title in 2013, and earning silver medals in 2011 and 2012.

Toronto’s fourth selection, 116th overall (fourth round), in the 2010 Entry Draft, Granberg helped team Sweden win the 2013 World Championship (along with Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok) and the 2012 World Junior Championship (along with Predators forward Filip Forsberg), as well as earning a silver medal at the 2010 World Under-18 Championship.

When looking at Granberg’s career path to this point he was a fourth round draft pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2010 NHL Draft. He has played 8 games at the NHL level but has mainly spent his time in his North American professional playing career in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies: 126 games, 22 points (3 goals, 19 assists), 58 penalty minutes, and a plus/minus rating of +33.

Honestly, this move stumps me a little bit. The Predators are already carrying an -extra- extra defenseman right now with both Victor Bartley and Anthony Bitetto on the roster. When I think of Bartley and Bitetto I’m starting to think they’ve collected more healthy scratches at the NHL level than games played. So, where does Granberg fit in and what is Nashville going to be doing roster wise? That’s going to be a wait and see storyline that will develop once Granberg is healthy enough to be taken off injured reserve.

Thoughts on this move by the Nashville Predators? Is there a reason why this acquisition happened you think? Who is the most likely candidate to be sent through the waiver wire in the attempts to clear them and assign them to the Admirals: Bartley, Bitetto, or Granberg?

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Ramblings, Vol. 36

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

#StickTaps to all the players for taking the time to give back to Milwaukee Admirals fans after last night’s game. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

You read the headline correctly. Today isn’t a Chatterbox it is a Ramblings. What’s the difference? Quite honestly nothing other than the amount of post-game interviews was such that there really wasn’t too much chatter going on. And I’ll start by explaining why.

It was Camera Night for the Milwaukee Admirals last night. That meant that the players all took to the ice shortly after the game was completed to take photos with the fans. I never like interrupting the incredible fan experience that Camera Night provides. Me jumping in front of a queue to interview a player for a few minutes just isn’t right. I get the privilege of interacting with the players all-season long. For the fans Camera Night is more than just taking photos it’s getting to meet your favorite players and talk with them like you would any buddy you know. The fans are always there for the players. Camera Night is a night when the players get to be there for the fans. I’ll always let that be that and give the players the rest of the night off from my reporting shenanigans so that they can have fun with all fans that took the time to meet them on the ice.

With that all said, I did get one interview and it is the one that I always am guaranteed to get which is the one with Admirals head coach Dean Evason. Here is what he had to say following the Admirals 3-1 win over the San Diego Gulls.

~But WAIT That’s Not All~

Let’s do some slight talking about the Admirals 3-1 win over the Gulls, shall we? To me I think it’s been impressive to watch this Admirals team compete in a variety of different style hockey games and find ways to win. The goal by Frédérick Gaudreau to put them ahead was something special. And as glamorous as his goal was it’s important to think of the penalty killing in the third period in the exact same capacity.

The Gulls entered last night’s game with the top power-play in the AHL. Their power-play is so good that despite going 0/4 in the third period last night they remain on top of the AHL in that special teams category. It wasn’t just the penalty killing that was great to watch it was also seeing it get done with some of the more clutch members of the penalty kill team in the box such as Félix Girard and Gaudreau who often are a first choice pairing on the kill as the forward group. Everyone stepped up and delivered immense pressure on the puck carrier. The Admirals don’t sit back and await to clear. They attack on the penalty kill and it takes a special type of forward to really gauge distance on the puck carrier as to not concede too much space for the options the power-play has behind the penalty killer. Max Reinhart was tremendous. Colton Sissons looked every bit the player who probably shouldn’t even be playing in Milwaukee right now. And Vladislav Kamenev also chipped in very well on the penalty kill. It’s exciting to see a forward group with so much youth and skill be that intelligent defensively.

~Comparing History~

The Admirals win last night matched a franchise record of a nine-game winning streak that was set last season (1/3/15–1/23/15). They’re also on a ten-game points streak having picked up a point from an overtime defeat on the road against the Iowa Wild on Halloween. For now though let’s focus on that franchise record winning streak and compare the two.

2014-15: five home wins, four road wins… two overtime wins, one shootout win… outscored opponents 30-13, outshot opponents 261-230… 8/36 (22.2%) power-play, 26/29 (89.7%) penalty kill… combined goaltending save percentage of 0.943, 2 shutouts… Viktor Arvidsson scored in all but one game of the nine game winning streak while producing 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) and 4.8 shots per game.

2015-16: five home wins, four road wins… one overtime win, one shootout win… outscored opponents 31-15, outshot opponents 301-278, 9/41 (21.9%) power-play, 28/34 (82.4%) penalty kill… combined goaltending save percentage of 0.949, 1 shutout… Arvidsson has scored in all games of the winning streak while producing 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) and exactly 5 shots per game.

That’s pretty impressive, right? Some areas such as shots are up from last season. The Admirals penalty kill during last season’s winning streak had a run of twenty-two straight kills so it was always going to be better. Outside of that it is remarkably close – all the way down to Arvidsson producing 12 points during the nine-game winning streak.

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Ads Match Franchise Winning Streak Mark; win 3-1

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Let those shoulders drop and relax, Kevin Fiala. You finally netted your first goal of this season. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals have matched their franchise record for a winning streak that they set last season. With their 3-1 win against the San Diego Gulls Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center the winning streak has hit nine-games.

Kevin Fiala finally picked up his first goal of the season and did so three and a half minutes into the game. Cody Bass raced forward and around the net from the left wing side. As he moved in the puck kicked out by Fiala on the doorstep of the cage on the right wing side. He banked a shot off of goaltender John Gibson’s glove arm and into the net.

The Admirals quick first period lead didn’t last long. Jimmy Oligny was tagged for a boarding minor after pasting Bryan Moore hard into the boards. Moore stayed down for a moment and would leave down the Gulls tunnel towards the locker room. He would return to the ice in the second period. On the resulting power-play former member of the Admirals Chris Mueller rifled a shot through Marek Mazanec to score his fourth goal of the season. It was also an AHL milestone moment for Mueller. That goal was his 300th career point in the AHL.

In the second period Nic Kerdiles finally got his wish of a dance partner to drop the gloves with. Earlier in the sandwich stanza he had tried to fight Trevor Murphy and received a roughing penalty following what I’d best describe as a tackle. Following a shot at Mazanec long after a whistle had sounded for an offsides call, Conor Allen raced over, dropped the gloves, and the two scrapped it out. The win in this tilt goes to Kerdiles who did more with his fists, causing a cut to open over the bridge of Allen’s nose, and had the take down to finish it.

With 2:23 remaining in the second period Frédérick Gaudreau continued his outstanding run of form by providing a highlight reel goal. Viktor Arvidsson, from the left wing wall, delivered a feed past Matt Bailey and into the center lane drive of Gaudreau who was now one-on-one with Gibson in goal. Gaudreau delivered a move that would make Peter Forsberg proud as he whipped his left arm out with the puck still on his tape to glide past Gibson for his fifth goal of the season. The primary assist from Arvidsson extended his AHL best points streak on the season to twelve-games. He has scored in every game since returning from the Nashville Predators.

The third period saw Mazanec and the Admirals survive extended periods on the penalty kill. In the space of seven-minutes they battled through a five-on-three and yet another minor penalty to maintain their 2-1 lead on the scoreboard. With the last of the minor penalty against Félix Girard completed the Gulls maintained offensive zone control and cycled their way into yet another power-play opportunity. Once more, the Admirals penalty kill survived.

With 1:15 remaining the Gulls brought Gibson to the bench for the extra attacker. Adam Payerl nearly made this pay immediately but his long range empty net bid missed wide left and icing was called. Fortunately he would get a second crack at the empty net following a zone clearance by Arvidsson that sent him free to skate the puck right into the open net. The goal for Payerl was his third of the season.

Ramblings: Prior to tonight’s game the Nashville Predators reassigned Colton Sissons to the Milwaukee Admirals and activated Eric Nystrom from injured reserve. Tonight’s line combinations were: Arvidsson-Sissons-Gaudreau, Fiala-Reinhart-Bass, Åberg-Kamenev-Payerl, Devane-Girard-Görtz, Allen-Oligny, Näkyvä-Aronson, Noonan-Murphy. Tonight’s scratches were: Eric Robinson (healthy), Stevie Moses (upper-body), and Johan Alm (lower-body). Both injured players have been skating and might be returning to the lineup soon. Former Admirals captain and current captain of the Gulls Joe Piskula missed his fourth consecutive game due to injury.

Thoughts on this game? Has Kevin Fiala settled down these first two games back since his suspension and injury? How impressed were you by the penalty killing in the third period?

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Posted in Game Recaps | 8 Comments

The Captain Is Back; Sissons Reassigned to Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Nashville Predators have reassigned Colton Sissons to the Milwaukee Admirals and activated Eric Nystrom from Injured Reserve. Per a source, Sissons is here in Milwaukee and expected to play tonight.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (November 21, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Saturday that the club has reassigned forward Colton Sissons to Milwaukee (AHL) and activated forward Eric Nystrom from Injured Reserve.

Nystrom, 32 (2/14/83), has missed eight games due to an upper-body injury since leaving Nashville’s game at Los Angeles on Oct. 31. In 10 games this season, the Syosset, N.Y., native has three goals/points.

The Nashville Predators continue their five-game road trip tonight at 7 p.m. CT, as they take on the Minnesota Wild in a Central Division clash (TV: FOX Sports Tennessee; Radio: 102.5 The Game). The team will then travel to New York to take on the Rangers (Monday), Buffalo Sabres (Wednesday) and Philadelphia Flyers (Friday) before returning home to play the Sabres at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, Nov. 28. During “Golden Saturday” home contests, the team has special promotions, events, giveaways and in-arena campaigns centered around the “Gold” theme. All fans wearing Gold for the Nov. 18 game against Buffalo will receive a poster of recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Phil Housley. For more information or to purchase tickets, fans can visit or call 615-770-7800.

Sissons, much like fellow Admirals alumni such as Austin Watson and Miikka Salomäki, had been enjoying a really great time at the NHL level. The Admirals team captain returned to the Predators after not having played NHL hockey since his first professional playing season of 2013-14. Sissons was able to play 5 games in his recent stint with the Predators and picked up a goal on his first game back in Nashville since that first pro playing season. He also was involved in a fight in a crazy game against the Winnipeg Jets.

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