IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

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In 2014-15, the Teuvo is being unleashed in North America. What can his impact be in the AHL and will he be here all that long?

Still buzzing over the 6-3 win in the Admirals season opener? Great news! We get to do it all over again tonight. This time it’s a road tilt against the diabolical divisional rivals, the Rockford IceHogs.

What’s funny to think of when looking at the IceHogs this season is that I feel they may not have the laughable madness in them anymore. Instead, I think they mirror similarly to the Admirals in age and talent. And if I had to hazard a guess, today, who I think could win the Midwest Division this season… it would be the Rockford IceHogs. Why? All you need to do is look at their roster and it will tell you they may have their most talented team in years.

~The Teuvo~

When you think of how thick the Nashville Predators glass ceiling is this season, in terms of leaping from Milwaukee to the NHL, you can’t help but see a team like the Chicago Blackhawks and their AHL affiliate and laugh. There are so many talented young players that could well be NHL talents were they in any other organization. The one that tops the scales for me in that department is 20-year old Teuvo Teräväinen.

Teravainen was selected by the Blackhawks with the 18th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft. He made his professional debut in North America last season for both the Blackhawks and IceHogs after a solid career in Finland with Jokerit. He suited up for 3 games in the NHL and 5 games for the IceHogs in the AHL. It gave him just enough of a look at the game style here in North America for his head to be fastened firmly come this season.

He might be young. He might have his own learning curve at the North American adjustment. But I’m not sure any of that matters with the mind he has for the game. If Colton Sissons is the man with expectations to shoulder a load here in Milwaukee – his equivalent is Teravainen. The difference between the two for me is that the Teuvo has better instincts for attacking. In 133 games of professional hockey in Finland he produced 93 points (33 goals, 60 assists). I think he can hit the ground running at the AHL level this season.

~Fear the Beard~

One of the better stories from last season was the rise of Scott Darling. He started off as the Admirals guy down in Cincinnati. Played a fair amount of games in the ECHL. And then the hectic cycle of injuries at the goaltending position started for the Nashville Predators and Milwaukee Admirals. In stepped Darling. And it felt like he was right at home. His strong season with the Admirals put him on plenty of teams radars and he eventually landed with his hometown Blackhawks on a two-way contract.

~Him Too?~

T.J. Brennan ran rough-shot on the AHL as a member of the Toronto Marlies last season: 72 points (25 goals, 47 assists) in 76 games. He wound up earning something the Maple Leafs didn’t give him last year, an NHL look. He signed a one-way deal with the New York Islanders in the off-season. Then came a trade. The Islanders acquired Nick Leddy in exchange for Brennan and Ville Pokka and Anders Nilsson. After clearing waivers, Mr. Brennan became an IceHog.

There no doubt that Brennan can handle himself at the AHL level: 199 points (76 goals, 123 assists) in 301 career games. With chances to get into the NHL with Chicago just as difficult as it is for our Admirals to get up to Nashville – Brennan should be here the majority of this season. That’s bad for him. And good for the IceHogs.

Thoughts on the Admirals game tonight? Are the IceHogs the top team in our division this season? Scoreline prediction?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 39

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This celebration happened six times last night. The Admirals were only able to do it four times in three games against Drew MacIntyre in last year’s playoffs! (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals season started with a bang. They won 6-3 and plenty of the new guys looked right at home in their debuts. The second period may have been rough for the Ads. It became a 3-3 games. But the response in the third period speaks highly to what team could be on our hands this season. Instant answer. Quick team defense. And keeping the throttle down when skating up ice for offensive chances.

This might be the youngest team in the AHL but it didn’t show in the opener. Some areas in the defense will need improvement but this is a team that can only get stronger with games played together as a unit. The talent level spoke volumes over the woes of inexperience. And I think that things can be really special with this team in 2014-15.

After the game I spoke with head coach Dean Evason. I also had the chance to talk to Anthony Bitetto, Pontus Åberg, Viktor Arvidsson, and Zach Budish. Here is what everyone had to say after the victorious season opener.

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Admirals Offense Shines in Season Opener, win 6-3

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Viktor Arvidsson was the first of many fresh faces scoring a goal in their AHL debuts tonight. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals won 6-3 against the Charlotte Checkers in Friday night’s season opener. The new faces for the Admirals made some serious dents tonight as Viktor Arvidsson, Pontus Aberg, Frederick Gaudreau, and Felix Girard all scored goals in their AHL debuts. Yet, the familiar face of Austin Watson was the difference when he scored twenty-two seconds into the third period to give the Ads a lead they’d hold onto until the final horn.

“The Nashville Predators organization has talked for a few years about getting more skill and more offense,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “I think clearly it’s a credit to the scouts and or Paul Fenton and David Poile for signing these guys. There’s been a shift for sure I think to have that skill.”

The Admirals opened tonight’s scoring on the power-play. It seemed as if whoever was operating within the faceoff circles for the Admirals was getting good looks with the man-advantage. The beneficiary of this was Viktor Arvidsson who bashed in a rebound after a one-timer by Brendan Leipsic fell right into his lap.

Only minutes later the Checkers returned the favor. Phil DiGiueppe’s one-timed effort spanked off the crossbar, down, and in. Even if Marek Mazanec tracked the pass from defenseman Dennis Robertson to DiGiueppe he’d have had a hard time stopping that shot where it was placed.

Pontus Aberg was the next new Admiral to get on the scoresheet and he did it in spectacular style. After Johan Alm tossed a puck over to him in the Admirals defensive half, Aberg proceeded to race up ice, into neutral, deked past Robertson, and finished off his coast-to-coast run by scoring on Drew MacIntyre.

The Admirals extended their lead to 3-1 in the second period from a third different goal scorer. This go-round it was Frederick Gaudreau who tallied with a crafty bit of work from his hands. He managed to move around Keegan Lowe and pull back on MacIntyre to the near post for his first career professional goal.

Next came a series of fights and road goals.

Kyle Hagel appeared to jump Anthony Bitetto in the first bout. Hagel was given an instigator and a misconduct for his actions that left Bitetto with a cut above his left eye. Justin Shugg followed up with a goal for the Checkers after running past Taylor Aronson and beating Mazanec with a wrister. The second fight was initiated on the Admirals end this time. Jimmy Oligny shoved Brendan Woods hard into the Checkers net and the two engaged quickly. Give the decisive win there to Oligny on the take down.

Right after an Admirals power-play the Checkers were able to cap off the second period with an equalizer to make it 3-3. Trevor Carrick fired a low shot that Zach Boychuk expertly redirected. The deflection came only a few feet in front of Mazanec and left the Czech no time to react.

With the Admirals losing a two goal lead in the second period they had an immediate response for the Checkers to start the third period. A mere twenty-two seconds into the frame and Miikka Salomaki’s wing to wing pass was flicked up and over MacIntyre by Austin Watson. It was a tough fight for Watson to get body position and a piece of Salomaki’s pass but, when he did, the puck took a weird flight pattern that almost got a piece of Mark Van Guilder in front of the net. It goes down as a goal for Watson. It’s his 43rd career goal with the Admirals.

Another familiar face to the Admirals lit the lamp next. After a stretch pass by the Checkers was intercepted by Gaudreau, his rush into the zone and subsequent layoff put Zach Budish into sniper mode. He hammered the puck past MacIntyre for his 5th career goal as an Admiral.

To close this one off, Felix Girard tallied an empty netter to give the Admirals a 6-3 scoreline for their season opener. The goal for him is as simple as it gets but Aberg’s effort to push the puck his way summed up the Ads performance rather nicely tonight: smart with speed.

“We have a lot of young guys that have a lot of skill,” said Anthony Bitetto. “It’s going to be fun to watch this year. I think we tighten up the little things: neutral zone, [defensive] zone. I think we’re going to have a good start and a good run.”

Ramblings: The scratches tonight included Joshua Shalla, Mike Liambas (undisclosed injury), Patrick Cehlin (hip), Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, Mikko Vainonen, and Jaynen Rissling.

Thoughts from the opener? What do you make of your new look Milwaukee Admirals? Can this team be special with the skill that they have? What are some of the negatives you might have seen from the opening contest? And can the team carry this offense into Rockford tomorrow night?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

Posted in Game Recaps | 8 Comments

Milwaukee’s Starring Role in Preds 3-2 Opening Night Victory

Ryan Ellis, Pekka Rinne and the Predators defeated Ottawa 3-2 in last night's season opener. Photo via Predators.NHL.com by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Former Admirals Ryan Ellis and Pekka Rinne helped the Predators defeat Ottawa 3-2 in Nashville’s season opener. Photo via Predators.NHL.com by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

One night before the Milwaukee takes the ice for their first game of the season against Charlotte, the Admirals NHL Affiliate Nashville opened its 2014-2015 campaign with a 3-2 home victory against Ottawa.

Several ex-Admirals made the Predators’ opening night lineup, include three, Filip Forsberg, Calle Järnkrok and Pekka Rinne, that dressed in games with Milwaukee last season. Forsberg got off to a terrific start in Nashville, picking up a pair of assists in 15:11 of ice time. The 20-year-old Swede’s first point came on a beautiful setup of Craig Smith‘s power play tally, while his second on a forced turnover contributed to Eric Nystrom‘s third period game winner.

Forsberg’s fellow Swedish countryman Jarnkrok had a much slower night, going pointless in 13:07. Meanwhile, Rinne looked like his old self on a relatively quiet night, stopping 18 of 20 shots to pick up his first win of the season.

Other former Admirals in Nashville’s opening night lineup, included Ryan Ellis, Shea Weber, Mattias Ekholm, Colin Wilson, Gabriel Bourque, Roman Josi and the earlier mentioned Madison, Wisconsin native Smith. Therefore, half of the Predators dressed skaters (10 altogether) enjoyed at least one stop in Milwaukee during their careers.

One longtime former Predator, David Legwand, suited up for the Senators in the debut contest. Nashville’s first-ever draft pick enjoyed this inglorious moment when he was called for a tripping penalty in the second period.

Jarnkrok and Forsberg’s ex-Admirals mates take to the ice tonight in Milwaukee’s 2014-2015 debut at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. You can read my season preview on MilwaukeeAdmirals.com.

Likely future Predators call up candidates dressing tonight for the Admirals, include forwards Colton Sissons, Miikka Salomäki, Pontus Åberg and Austin Watson, plus defenseman Joe Piskula and Johan Alm, who were Nashville’s final two cuts.

So Roundtable . . . What did you think of Nashville’s first game of the season? Do you think we’ve seen the last of Calle Jarnkork and Filip Forsberg in Milwaukee? When Nashville comes calling for a forward or a defenseman, who do you think is going to be the Predators first call up?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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Checkers: Scouting the Enemy

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The Ads and Checkers can be a quite vibrant affair. Not to mention, the two faced off in the Admirals home opener back in 2012-13. The Checkers won that game 4-3. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals 2014-15 season starts tonight on home ice with the Charlotte Checkers. We’ve already given a bit of a preview as to what we should expect out of the Ads this season. So let’s hop right into the fire and figure out the enemy.

~Et Tu, Mac?~

The first thing that leaps out at me when looking at the Checkers this season is a former Admiral goaltender who comes in at a boastful 6’0″ tall. Last season he absolutely cleaned the floor with the Admirals in the playoffs whilst playing for the Toronto Marlies. Yes. I am of course talking about Drew MacIntyre.

In the playoffs MacIntyre was fantastic for the Marlies. He held a 2.08 GAA with a 0.941 SV% through 14 games of the Calder Cup Playoffs. He earned himself a one-year, two-way contract with the Carolina Hurricanes in the off-season. With Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin up with the Canes in the NHL – MacIntyre finds himself back in the AHL paired with 26-year old goaltender John Muse.

Anticipate the familiar face being the man in net for the Checkers. And if you thought we had goalie injury woes in the system last year – think about this Charlotte team. In 2013-14 the Checkers played ten different goaltenders. Believe me when I say this is a team that hopes they’ll be able to rely on MacIntyre, Muse, and hopefully no one else.

~Defense~

The oldest man on the Checkers defense is 24-year old Michal Jordan (no relation). He has 267 games of AHL experience under his belt – as well as 5 games in the NHL. Behind him: Rasmus Rissanen, 188 games played at the AHL level. Beau Schmitz, who has fluctuated between the AHL and ECHL over his first two-seasons. Dennis Robertson, who had a one-game cameo after his career at Brown University came to an end. Danny Biega and Keegan Lowe, who are both entering their second full-season of pro hockey. Austin Levi, who played his first pro season at the ECHL level and has yet to play in the AHL. And lastly, 20-year old Trevor Carrick who is a bonafide rookie.

Long story short. I thought our defense was pretty young and lacking professional playing experience. They could and should be just as vulnerable as our defense – if not more so.

~Prospect Watch List~

Taking a gander at the fall rankings for the Hurricanes on Hockey’s Future – the Checkers boast 6 prospects from the Canes Top 20. The top of that crop is 20-year old winger Brock McGinn. He spent last year doing amazing things for the highly successful Guelph Storm and, previously, had the opportunity to play 4 games in the AHL during the 2012-13 season. He should be the one worth looking out for in red tomorrow night. He scored 85 points (43 goals, 42 assists) in 58 games in the OHL last year. Can he translate that to professional success in Charlotte?

~That Boychuk Kid Again~

Zach Boychuk is somewhat of an enigma. He’s the sort to light up the AHL, get called up to the NHL, not do much, get sent back down, and continue producing offense in the AHL. He averages 0.89 PPG through 296 career AHL games. At the NHL level he currently sits with a 0.25 PPG in 96 career games.

He ended last season with the second most points scored in the AHL: 74 points (36 goals, 38 assists) in 69 games. No one last year scored more goals in the AHL than him. Is he going to replicate that success? This isn’t an NHL fixture so my guess is a firm yes.

What are your expectations from tonight’s season opener? Who would you start in net for the Milwaukee Admirals? Scoreline prediction?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 38

Photo by Scott Paulus

Magnus Hellberg’s 2013-14 season was one to forget. Can he find the success he displayed in his rookie season this year? (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

It was Media Day for the Milwaukee Admirals. This meant getting a good look at the team prior to tomorrow night’s opener and plenty of opportunities to speak with coaches and players.

Let’s start first with what I saw of the team in practice. It currently seems as if Mike Liambas and Patrick Cehlin will start the season out of the lineup as both have injury setbacks. In addition, the forward lines have been given a bit of a shake up.

Pontus Aberg-Colton Sissons-Brendan Leipsic
Miikka Salomaki-Mark Van Guilder-Austin Watson
Viktor Arvidsson-Felix Girard-Triston Grant
Josh Shalla-Frederick Gaudreau/Joe Pendenza-Zach Budish

The bottom line was working between two centers. My gut instinct says Frederick Gaudreau gets the go-ahead of Joe Pendenza for tomorrow night. As for the defensemen. They were all there. All eight of them. As you could imagine that meant pretty static lines during practice. It seemed as though the one that didn’t get rattled much was Anthony Bitetto on the left with Garrett Noonan to his right. Not so cut and dry as to who pairs with who on defense. I think it will become a bit more clear in the first few weeks of the season.

Once practice finished, I joined the esteemed Milwaukee media for Q&A’s with many of the players. I spoke with Dean Evason, Joe Piskula, Colton Sissons, Johan Alm, Taylor Aronson, Marek Mazanec, and Magnus Hellberg. Here’s what everyone had to say ahead of the season opener.

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Wisconsin Native Joe Piskula Named Admirals Team Captain

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Antigo native. UW Badger. Admirals captain. What a proper Sconnie this Joe Piskula is, eh? (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

This morning the Milwaukee Admirals announced their official captains for the 2014-15 season. Joe Piskula will serve as team captain with the alternates being Mark Van Guilder and Colton Sissons.

Press Release via Milwaukee Admirals:

Milwaukee, WI—The Milwaukee Admirals announced today that defenseman Joe Piskula has been selected as the team’s captain for the 2014-15 season. Piskula, a native of Antigo, WI and a University of Wisconsin alum, is entering his third season with the Ads and served as an Alternate Captain last season.

A veteran of over 480 games in the AHL and NHL, Piskula posted 23 points (3g-20a) in 73 games with the Ads last season. His +20 rating was best on the team and it made him just the second Admiral to finish the season +20 or better in the past 10 years.

Acquired from the Calgary organization on February 28, 2013, Piskula has scored four goals and added 23 assists in 96 career games with Milwaukee. He has played in 12 career NHL contests, including two with the Predators last season, and helped UW capture the 2006 NCAA Championship.

Forwards Mark Van Guilder and Colton Sissons will wear the “A” on their jerseys as the team’s alternate captains.

Piskula is coming off of a very strong pre-season camp in Nashville. He, along with Johan Alm, was in the final roster cut. At 30-years old Piskula appears to be playing his best hockey. He has 12 games of NHL experience and 466 games of playing experience at the AHL level. Last season he played 73 games for the Admirals and scored 23 points (3 goals, 20 assists) whilst being a +20 defender. He earned an NHL call-up in 2013-14 as well that saw him play in 2 games for the Predators.

In addition to the alternate captains Van Guilder and Sissons, head coach Dean Evason also cited that Triston Grant, Mike Liambas, and Austin Watson are also candidates to wear an “A” should players shuffle in an out of the lineup.

What do you think of the Admirals choice for captains? Happy to see a Sconnie as captain? What do you make of the selection of Sissons as an alternate captain?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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2014-15 Milwaukee Admirals: Season Preview

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Hockey season is finally here, Milwaukee. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Friday night is the start of what should be a fascinating season for the Milwaukee Admirals. Per Elite Prospects, the team will be the youngest in the entire AHL with an average age of 22.75 years old. Thirteen players will be enduring their first full-season of professional hockey in North America. Yet, the story of the season will be whether or not that maturity factor will even matter. This could well be one of the most talented Admirals teams we’ve seen in Milwaukee in a long time.

~The Forgotten Man~

If there was any beneficiary to the Nashville Predators off-season acquisitions it was the Milwaukee Admirals. When the Predators landed James Neal in a trade that sent Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to the Pittsburgh Penguins. When the Predators signed free agents Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro, and Derek Roy. It meant a a log jam effect was in place for centers and wingers on the cusp of cracking the NHL roster.

Colton Sissons had an outstanding rookie campaign for the Admirals in 2013-14. He played in 62 games and recorded 44 points (25 goals, 19 assists). Not only that, but he also played 17 games in the NHL where he scored 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists). If there were any one player that lost out the most to the off-season moves the Predators made it was Sissons. The centers mentioned above are ahead of him. As is Calle Jarnkrok. In addition, Mike Fisher and Matt Cullen are each still with the team – both are out with injury – and both will return this season.

So where does this leave the soon to be 21-year old Sissons? Exactly where the Admirals would love to have him. Front and center. It might be a disappointment for him to not have NHL hockey right out of the gate this season but he has the chance to do anything and everything at the AHL level. Something that, as a fourth-line center, he just wouldn’t be afforded to do in Nashville. This could be a season that Sissons looks back on as the one where he learned the most in his career before solidifying himself as an NHL regular. So much of what the Admirals will be in the AHL this season is going to be dependent on having Sissons be a focal point of the team. If he avoids a dreaded sophomore slump it will mean great things, not just for Sissons, but the Milwaukee Admirals 2014-15 season.

~The Other Guys~

Fun Fact. Who lead the Milwaukee Admirals in scoring last season? Miikka Salomaki, 50 points (20 goals, 30 assists) in 75 games. Additional Fun Fact. Salomaki is among eight other returning faces to the forward group. There will be another year in Milwaukee for Mark Van Guilder, Austin Watson, Mike Liambas, Patrick Cehlin, Zach Budish, Josh Shalla, and even Joe Pendenza gets a chance for a full campaign this season. We know plenty of what these guys can do. It’s the other guys that have entered the team this year that gets me all the more excited. Forwards suiting up for their North American professional debuts this season include: Brendan Leipsic, Pontus ÅbergViktor ArvidssonFrédérick Gaudreau, and Félix Girard.

Of those names, I feel the one that can have the biggest impact for the Admirals this season is Åberg. He has already played in 100 games as a professional in the Swedish Hockey League. This will be his transition year to North American ice. It appears as though he will be slotted on the team’s top line as a left winger to Sissons at center and Watson on the right wing. He very much reminds me of a Filip Forsberg-Lite. He’s not quite as tall, he’s not quite as flashy, and he’s not quite as talented on offense. What he is, similar to his fellow countryman, is fast. He sees the ice very well and processes things extremely quick. I wouldn’t be surprise me to see Åberg be the top scoring rookie of the Admirals come season’s end. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he led the Admirals in scoring either.

~The Post-Scott Ford Era~

One of the larger talking points heading into this 2014-15 Admirals season is the absence of longtime leader and team captain Scott Ford. When the team was swept by the Toronto Marlies in last season’s playoffs it left plenty of doubt as to his return to the Admirals in 2014-15. He, for the first time in a long time, really looked like a 34-year old defenseman. Add that to a think tank that already includes six new defensemen stepping in for their AHL debuts this season and you are exactly where we are today. A Milwaukee Admirals team without Scott Ford.

Who will be the new leaders of this team? Believe it or not, for the youngest team in the AHL, there are many of names on the roster who have strong leadership qualities.

Jonathan-Ismael Diaby was an alternate captain with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. Garrett Noonan was an alternate and then team captain at Boston University. Jimmy Oligny was an alternate captain with two different teams in the QMJHL – most recently with Rimouski Océanic. Jaynen Rissling was an alternate and team captain of the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. Frédérick Gaudreau was the alternate captain last season for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL. Félix Girard was a team captain the last two-seasons with Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL. Joe Pendenza was an alternate captain at UMass-Lowell.

And that’s really just the new guys we’ll add to the deck this season. There are also leaders such as Joe Piskula, Mark Van Guilder, and Triston Grant who will be on the Admirals. Not to mention Sissons – who was a team captain in juniors as well as the Predators recent rookie tournament team. And Watson – who also was a captain at the junior level.

Leadership and the lack of it in the absence of Scott Ford really is a zero issue here. It might be a sentimental issue for some, but the inevitability of time has come for the two to end. Ford is no longer the captain, is no longer an Admiral, and is no longer under contract as a professional hockey player. What he still is though in so many ways is an influence to players within the Nashville and Milwaukee teams through players that have been around him. That influence is still in the Admirals locker room. And, in that sense, the torch has been passed for the next Sheriff to emerge.

~Between The Pipes~

One season ago I was really excited by the prospect of having Magnus Hellberg and Marek Mazanec push one-another to be “the guy” in net for the Admirals. As the story went instead: Pekka Rinne suffered a setback in his recovery process from hip surgery when he had an E. coli infection that made him miss four-months of hockey. Then the goaltending scramble started. Carter Hutton to starter, Hellberg as back-up, Hellberg down, Mazanec up, Scott Darling wins at life, Hellberg gets hurt, Darling gets hurt, trade for Devan Dubnyk, Mazanec down, ditch Devan Dubnyk, Hellberg to Cincinnati, and so ends 2013-14.

Wild, right? How about we try this again in 2014-15 but with a little less brain tearing agony?

What seems to be a boost so far to all involved in the goaltending battle this season is this: no injuries. Even this time last season Hellberg was fighting off an injury he sustained in Nashville camp. Now? Everyone is healthy. Even the man who could prove to be this year’s version of Darling, Rob Madore – who will start his season off in Cincinnati of the ECHL – like Darling did last season – hint, hint, wink.

Should all stay healthy it simply becomes a matter of who is best for the job and wins the majority of playing time in net. I want to say the Admirals are looking at a 1-A and 1-B rather than a 1-2 at the moment but it is still rather early. Should Madore start his season in the ECHL the way he finished it, where he took home the Kelly Cup Finals MVP honors despite being on the losing side of the ECHL Finals, I have to think a move could easily be made to stir the well. Hellberg was on the bench during those exact same Kelly Cup Finals as Madore worked his stuff. The battle for the Admirals net will be hotly contested. It should bring out the best of all three of these goaltenders. Who establishes their authority as the number one choice goaltender? I’m sure that will be a talking point we bash the daylights out of over the course of this season.

~The Green Defense~

In no easier way can you point out the youth of the 2014-15 Admirals than by looking at our defensive core. Regulars that are returning from last season. Anthony Bitetto and Joe Piskula. That’s it. The rest are all fairly fresh names. Some were able to catch the tail end of last season here in Milwaukee but the full slate starts now.

When I think back to last season’s playoff exit I think about a defense that looked stiff, slow, and old. That will be given a swift upgrade this year by the Predators prospects that have moved on from their junior playing career to the AHL: Diaby, Rissling, Vainonen, Noonan, and Oligny. Not to mention there will also be a 22-year old Swede entering the mix with a great weight of professional playing experience already under his belt in Johan Alm.

It could take a little bit of time before we start viewing distinct partnerships formed for defensive pairings. The reasoning for that all comes down to the group at hand. Should Taylor Aronson not make the roster – the Admirals will not have a single right-handed shooting defensemen on the team. Not one. So who slots on what side? Is having a balance or righties and lefties on defense all that important? The Admirals are going to find that question out for themselves by the looks of it. No matter what. This should be a quicker team defense. And that could play out well for the men in net.

The Milwaukee Admirals “Media Day” takes place tomorrow. I will be on hand to interview coaches and players. Expect a follow up on that tomorrow afternoon. The very first “Scouting the Enemy” of this season will appear on Friday morning – followed by opening night gameday coverage on our assorted social media.

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

Posted in Feature, News | 10 Comments

Rob Madore Assigned to Cincinnati

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Rob Madore was stellar for the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs last season. Despite being on the losing side of the final he earned the playoff MVP honors. (Photo Credit: Cincinnati Cyclones // Facebook)

The trifecta of goalies that the Milwaukee Admirals had in camp has just been put into perspective. The Admirals will start the season with Magnus Hellberg and Marek Mazanec in net with today’s news that Rob Madore will be assigned to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.

Press Release via Milwaukee Admirals:

Milwaukee, WI–The Admirals announced today that the team has assinged goaltender Rob Madore to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.

Signed to an AHL deal in the off-season, Madore led the Clones to the 2014 Kelly Cup Finals, where he was selected as the playoff MVP after posting a 14-7-3 mark with a 2.29 goals against average and .930 save percentage. He became the first player in ECHL history to win the award as a member of the losing team.

The 26-year old Pittsburgh native played a combined eight games with the San Antonio Rampage and Charlotte Checkers last year, including three against the Admirals. In those three contests he went 1-1 allowing five goals on 51 shots. In 17 career AHL games Madore has a 6-7 record while posting a .933 save percentage and allowing 2.32 goals per game.

The Admirals open up the 2014-15 season on Friday, October 10th at 7:00 pm versus the Charlotte Checkers at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

In talking with head coach Dean Evason following Friday night’s pre-season contest I had the impression that this was no easy decision to make. Madore finished so strongly last season and appeared to show very well in Predators and Admirals pre-season camps. Could we be looking at this year’s Scott Darling? We may well be.

Did the Admirals send the right goalie to the ECHL? Was this a move protecting Nashville Predators property more than selecting the best man for the job? Which goalie would have been more likely to go to Cincinnati, Hellberg or Mazanec?

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 37

Dan-Jake-1

There isn’t exactly media seating at the Kern Center. That meant setting up shop among the fans in the stands. It was about as fun as it looks. (Photo Credit: Sunnie Hirschfield)

The Admirals won the pre-season opener 3-1 against the Rockford IceHogs at the MSOE Kern Center. Despite the IceHogs picking up the opening goal through Alex Broadburst’s shorthander – the game really was all Admirals. Which is surprising when you remember the poor start that saw them on consecutive penalty kills right out of the shoot.

The line that stood out the most for me was the starting forward group of Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons, and Austin Watson. It seems like they are all on the exact same page, work well off of one another, and can play well in both areas of the ice. I expect this to be the Admirals top forward line come the season opener. And I expect the man who will benefit greatly from this will be Aberg.

The quiet heroes of the game also happened to be everyone on the Admirals defense. It wasn’t really one defenseman excelling over another. It was just good solid work from each d-man. In short, they all took care of business. If not for a flub up along the wall that led to a shorthanded goal. We’d be looking at a shutout in this team’s first outing as a unit. Not too shabby.

After the game I had the chance to speak with head coach Dean Evason. I also spoke with Pontus Aberg, Rob Madore, and Colton Sissons. Here is what everyone had to say following the pre-season opener.

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