Leipsic Joining Hellberg in Utica for AHL All Star Classic

Magnus Hellberg will have company in Utica, as Brendan Leipsic was added to the AHL Western Conference All-Star roster. (Photo Credit: @TheAHL // Twitter)

Magnus Hellberg will have company in Utica, as Brendan Leipsic was added to the AHL Western Conference All-Star Classic roster. (Photo Credit: @TheAHL // Twitter)

Sometimes it a takes a seven-game winning streak for a team to get noticed. The Milwaukee Admirals and Brenden Leipsic earned some much deserved recognition when the forward was selected to join the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic.

Press Release via the AHL:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today several rosters changes for the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino, set for this Sunday and Monday in Utica, N.Y.

Added to the Eastern Conference AHL All-Star roster are Hershey Bears defenseman Connor Carrick, Syracuse Crunch forward Jonathan Marchessault, Binghamton Senators forward Shane Prince and Albany Devils forward Paul Thompson.

Joining the Western Conference AHL All-Star roster are Milwaukee Admirals forward Brendan Leipsic, Rockford IceHogs forward Mark McNeill, Oklahoma City Barons forward Andrew Miller and San Antonio Rampage defenseman Alex Petrovic.

In addition, the AHL announced that Syracuse defenseman Nikita Nesterov, Manchester forwards Brian O’Neill and Nick Shore, Providence forward David Pastrnak, San Antonio forward Bobby Butler, Oklahoma City forward Anton Lander, Rockford forward Joakim Nordstrom and Grand Rapids defenseman Xavier Ouellet will all be unavailable for the event.
The AHL also announced the results of the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic Fan Balloting presented by CCM, as league fans voted to determine the starting lineups for Monday night’s 2015 AHL All-Star Game:

Eastern Conference
G – Anton Forsberg, Springfield
D – Austin Madaisky, Springfield
D – Derrick Pouliot, W-B/Scranton
F – Chris Bourque, Hartford
F – Tom Kostopoulos, W-B/Scranton
F – Vladislav Namestnikov, Syracuse

Western Conference
G – Jacob Markstrom, Utica
D – T.J. Brennan, Rockford
D – Bobby Sanguinetti, Utica
F – Connor Brown, Toronto
F – Cal O’Reilly, Utica
F – Teemu Pulkkinen, Grand Rapids

It has been a stellar first season for the Nashville Predators’ 2012 third-round draft pick. Leipsic leads the Admirals with 29 points and all league rookies with 25 assists. He ranks third among AHL first year players in points.

The Winnipeg native will join Milwaukee goaltender Magnus Hellberg at the team’s representatives in Utica for the two-day event beginning on Sunday with the skills competition and concluding with the game on Monday night. Neither player were named as starters. Three Comets earned that honor, including former Admiral/Predator Cal O’Reilly.

Riding the season-high seven game winning clip, Milwaukee currently stands in fourth place in the Western Conference and three points behind Midwest Division leading Rockford. Tonight’s opponent Utica, leads the North Division and is one point clear of the IceHogs.

So Roundtable . . . Has justice been served for Leipsic? Are you excited to see Leipsic take his place among the AHL All-Stars?

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Comets: Scouting The Enemy With The Enemy

(Photo Credit: Lindsay A. Mogle)

Dear Tom Sestito. Mike Liambas doesn’t care how big or experienced you are. He’s a honey badger and therefore does not give a sod. (Photo Credit: Lindsay A. Mogle)

The Milwaukee Admirals return home tonight and are riding a season long seven game winning streak. The test they face tonight is that of the Utica Comets – a team that pushed the Admirals quite hard last Friday.  I would go as far to say that the Ads were outplayed from the second period until the final horn but Mark Van Guilder’s well documented theatrics showed up and saved the team’s bacon in the final minute. Rematch? Buckle up.

Rather than redo a “Scouting the Enemy” on the Comets I decided to reach out to Jack W. of Comets Army to do a Q&A ahead of tonight’s game. You can follow Comets Army on Twitter as well as visit his website.

~Scouting The Enemy With The Enemy~

Admirals Roundtable: Last season you guys missed out on the playoffs. This season the Utica Comets have been at or around the top of the Western Conference for most of this season. What has caused the turn-around?

Comets Army: From the second half of last season to this point, the Comets have been one of the top teams in the AHL. I feel this is due to the cohesiveness of the squad since the AHL All Star break last season. At the beginning of last season the team was kind of in a scramble to build a good roster. So we ended up with what we had which lead to the poor start, not winning for eleven games, and not winning a home game until the end of November. Then, at about the midway point, the signings of vets like Kent Huskins and Cal O’Reilly seemed to inspire the locker room. And the stellar play of Joacim Eriksson brought the Comets to only missing a playoff spot by four points. With the additions of top prospects in the Vancouver Canucks organization such as Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, and Mike Zalewski. The acquisitions of Will Acton, Andrey Pedan, and Jacob Markström. The Comets have been able to build a team with an high octane offense, a stellar defense, and one of, if not the best, goaltending tandems in the AHL. The Comets have been able to control the AHL’s Western Conference for most of the season.

AR: How huge has the goaltending been to this season’s success?

CA: When you have two top fifteen goaltenders on your roster you know they’re doing something right. Both Markström and Eriksson have dominated the net for Utica and been a pivotal part of the Comets success so far. When Markström fell injured in December Eriksson stepped up and held the division lead. Ever since Markström came back they’ve split time and have done great. One game in particular that sticks out is when Markström had forty-five saves and only one goal allowed in a fantastic performance in Glens Falls against the Adirondack Flames. Both goalies have paved the way for this season and, if continued, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the Calder Cup playoffs.

AR: Cal O’Reilly is still a popular figure in Milwaukee for his time here as an Admiral. How key has hey been for the Comets since joining last season?

CA: Cal O’Reilly is still, in my opinion, the greatest signing in our (short) team history. He’s a great playmaker. He’s one of the best passers in the league, fourth in the league in assists with twenty-six, and he’s a pivotal piece on our special teams. He is one of the best players in the AHL and it shows. He’ll be making this third career AHL All Star Classic appearance this weekend.

AR: Dustin Jeffrey is another solid AHL talent on your roster who has been on a surge of late. Just another great piece to your puzzle?

CA: Definitely. Having the NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars he’s definitely one of the leaders on the squad. Often playing on a line with Brandon DeFazio and Darren Archibald, it’s one of the more deadly lines the Comets have: Archibald being the big enforcer on the ice, and DeFazio and Jeffrey splitting goals and assists. Having Jeffrey on the squad definitely makes us better.

AR: Tonight’s game should mark the debut of Kevin Fiala. What are the top prospects in Comets camp and some of the guys in the pipeline you’re most looking forward to seeing in the AHL for Utica?

CA: It was really cool seeing Bo Horvat come down on a conditioning stint early in the season. A player that young and that talented. I’m glad he’s prospering in Vancouver. Also having players like Skinkaruk and Gaunce on the full time roster is cool. It’s nice seeing such young talent develop here, and then eventually make the jump to Vancouver. I’m excited in the future to see players like Dane Fox and Curtis Valk come up from the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL to make an impact, as well as Thatcher Demko (currently at Boston College) and Jake Virtanen (currently playing in the CHL). Seeing both of them play in the World Juniors was pretty cool and I’m excited to see what they can bring to the Canucks organization.

AR: The last match up between the Ads and Comets had the feelings of playoff hockey. The defenses were sharp, goaltending was as solid as you’d have expected from a Hellberg vs. Markstrom bout, and there was a thrilling finish. Will we get more of the same in round two?

CA: Yes, unless Eriksson gets the nod over Markström – which is very well possible due to Markström starting the last two games. Not much has changed with the Comets roster since the last meeting and, due to the Canucks going into the All Star break last night, there should be no call ups. Expect a much similar matchup to the one on Friday.

AR: What does the rest of this season hold for the Comets? Do you feel this regular season is setting up for a good Calder Cup run?

CA: The Comets definitely have a chance at the Cup this year having a goaltending duo as they do. They definitely have a chance to thrive in a game six or seven situation. As for the rest of the season, the Comets have a particularly easy schedule but, with teams like the Toronto Marlies on the rise, they can make it tough to contend with the Oklahoma City Barons for the number one seed in the West. It’ll be a long push, complete with three road trips of three-plus games or more, including a three game roadie to end the season. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll perform. They’re a stellar team at home and they need to step it up on the road to be able to make a playoff run.

Cheers again to Jack of Comets Army. Always nice having us AHL bloggers sticking together.

Expectations for tonight’s game? Can the Admirals winning streak live to fight another day? How will Fiala handle the North American game and what do you expect from his debut? And what will Viktor Stålberg‘s inclusion to the Admirals do for the team?

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. 59

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Milwaukee. Prepare yourselves. Kevin Fiala is here.

This morning I attended practice at the MSOE Kern Center. It was the first chance to take a look at Kevin Fiala with the Milwaukee Admirals and get a sneak peek at just what the lines might be with him and Viktor Stålberg in the mix now.

Today’s practice was extended a bit longer than normal. The Admirals had an off-day yesterday after finishing up their three game road trip on the weekend. Goaltending coach David Rook was the first man on the ice and worked with Magnus Hellberg and Rob Madore before the skaters got going. Once practice picked up the lines looked as follows:

Fiala-Sissons-Aberg
Leipsic-Watson-Stålberg
Salomaki-Van Guilder-Arvidsson
(Liambas) Clune-Girard-Grant
Pendenza-Gaudreau-Budish

Diaby-Piskula
Bitetto-White
(Noonan) Oligny-Aronson

Colton Sissons assists totals look like they’re destined to finally go up. Fiala will be playing as Sissons left wing when he debuts tomorrow night against the Utica Comets. In addition, Austin Watson‘s move to center last game looks like it will be something we should get used to. Stålberg will be working on his line since his most recent reassignment from the Nashville Predators. Both Mike Liambas and Garrett Noonan rotated in and out of line pairings throughout the practice.

Fiala was plenty of fun to watch today. His hand speed alone was quite impressive and his wrist shot beat Hellberg a few times. The lone thing I found off to his game was that he wasn’t keeping his stick on the ice when working defensively. Small critique, but the rest of what I saw had me excited for what he’s going to do in his debut.

After practice I spoke with Dean Evason, Kevin Fiala, Viktor Stålberg, and the latest Admiral to debut in the NHL – Anthony Bitetto. Here is what they had to say ahead of tomorrow night’s game.

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Stålberg Saga Redux; Reassigned to Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Hey! This guy. This guy has been sent to Milwaukee a lot. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The never ending up down and around season for Viktor Stålberg today. The Nashville Predators have reassigned the Swedish forward to the Milwaukee Admirals. It is the fourth move down to the Admirals from the Predators this season for Stålberg.

It seemed like his latest move up to the Predators was going relatively well. Stålberg produced 3 assists in 5 games in his latest rodeo with the Predators and the team went 4-0-1 in those games. in his last game he played the least amount of ice time of any Predators forward and then sat out for the next three games before being reassigned to the Admirals.

With Kevin Fiala joining the team this week, and now Stålberg being reassigned, it would appear that the winger position has been massively overloaded for the Admirals. Perhaps that’s a reason for putting Austin Watson back at the center position last game. There has yet to be an announcement of corresponding moves that would place players to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL but I’d imagine that it would only be a matter of time before that takes place.

What’s your take on Viktor Stålberg? Has he lost what it takes to be an every day NHL player or is he simply in the wrong organization right now? Who gets sent to the ECHL?

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

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Bitetto Returning to the Admirals After NHL Debut

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

It may have just been for one game but, for so many, that one NHL game is all that matters. Anthony Bitetto got his first career NHL game last night for the Nashville Predators as they played against the Detroit Red Wings on the road. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Yesterday Anthony Bitetto received his first career NHL call up and made his debut in last night’s Nashville Predators game against the Detroit Red Wings. Now that the dust has settled from that game he’s coming right back to the Milwaukee Admirals.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (January 18, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the team has reassigned defenseman Anthony Bitetto to Milwaukee (AHL).

Bitetto, 24 (7/15/90), played 11:01 in his NHL debut on Saturday night at Detroit.

The Nashville Predators – who have an 8-1-2 record since the Christmas Break – play their final contest before the All-Star Break on Tuesday at Montreal (6:30 p.m. CT, FOX Sports Tennessee, 102.5 The Game). Following the All-Star Break, the Predators return to Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 27 to face the visiting Colorado Avalanche.

As mentioned in the press release, Bitetto logged 11:01 of ice time in his debut which was the lowest total by any defensemen in the game. He was a -1 on the night, delivered 2 hits, and recorded a giveaway. All things being said, I’m sure the result of the game doesn’t hinder the enjoyment for him having checked “playing in the NHL” off the bucket list.

Thoughts on the Nashville Predators calling up Anthony Bitetto for last night’s game? In your opinion was this a matter of the Preds rewarding Bitetto for his work or should they have called up someone else?

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

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Seventh Heaven; Ads win 4-3 in OT

Arvidsson-101014-1

This is Viktor Arvidsson. He is pretty good at hockey. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals won 4-3 in overtime against the Adirondack Flames on the road Saturday night. The Flames overcame two two-goal deficits and forced overtime in the final minute. The overtime hero would be Viktor Arvidsson tonight who whirled in a spectacular backhander for his second goal on the night to give the Admirals a season high winning streak of seven games.

This game began with some solid puck possession for the Flames which was highlighted by them earning two power-plays in the first period. Against the run of play, Rich Clune had a shorthanded breakaway that he buried past goaltender Brad Thiessen’s glove to score his third goal of the season. It’s the first shorthanded goal scored in 2014-15 by the Admirals. The only two teams yet to record a shorthanded goal this season are the Oklahoma City Barons and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Admirals extended their lead in the second period after a very fortunate bounce. The Flames were unable to clear their own zone when Mark Cundari’s banked clearing attempt off the glass went into the path of Miikka Salomaki who kicked the puck high up into the air. The bounce that the puck took off the ice skipped in on Thiessen in net who managed to kick the puck aside but right in line with Salomaki. The Finn retrieved the rebound and popped in a backhanded shot past the pads for his sixth goal of the season.

After Joe Piskula was caught playing too far forward in the offensive end of the ice the Flames were able to rush off on a two-on-one. Ben Hanowski and David Wolf executed the odd man break to perfection as they made two quick passes to get Jonathan Diaby to bite one way and had Magnus Hellberg scrambling in net before Wolf deposited the puck into a nearly wide open cage for his eighth goal of the season.

With the Admirals first power-play chance of the night came just another booming slap shot goal for Viktor Arvidsson. Brendan Leipsic passed up to the point for Taylor Aronson who teed up the one-timed shot for Arvidsson who bashed in his thirteenth goal of the season and sixth scored on the power-play.

The game would go back to a one-goal advantage only 1:17 of ice time later. The Flames were able to work a loose puck out in front of Hellberg and Wolf managed to find it before three Admirals out in front of the net could. It was a quick move to Wolf’s right before beating Hellberg to the glove side for his second goal of the night and ninth of the season.

Last night the Admirals were celebrating a last minute goal. Tonight they were on the receiving end of last minute theatrics. The Flames pulled Thiessen and burned their timeout with 1:33 remaining in regulation. With only fifty-one seconds remaining Michael Ferland’s fifth goal of the season sent the game to overtime. The Flames used their numbers around Hellberg in net and Wolf managed to pass off to Ferland on the back door for the tap in.

In the overtime period Arvidsson finished the game off with a dazzling individual effort. The Swede dangled in off the right wing before moving on to center and then whipped in a backhander that beat Thiessen high blocker side for his second tally of the game and fourteenth on the season. During this season long winning streak Arvidsson has scored nine points, five goals, and four assists in seven games.

Ramblings: Prior to the game the Nashville Predators recalled defenseman Anthony Bitetto. He made his NHL debut tonight playing on the road against the Detroit Red Wings. Tonight’s Admirals scratches were Joe Pendenza (healthy), Frederick Gaudreau (healthy), and Johan Alm (upper body). Taylor Aronson returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games of the road trip due to an undisclosed injury. Kevin Fiala has yet to join the team and is expected to arrive in Milwaukee on Monday.

Thoughts from tonight’s performance? Did the Admirals dodge a bullet tonight? How would you rate Viktor Arvidsson amongst the Admirals forwards right now?

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

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Anthony Bitetto Recalled to Nashville

Bitetto-1314-1

Anthony Bitetto is set to join Miikka Salomaki as the next Milwaukee Admiral tomake their NHL debut this season. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals will be short a defenseman tonight. The Nashville Predators have just recalled Anthony Bitetto for his first career call up and he is expected to make his NHL debut tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (January 17, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Saturday that the team has recalled defenseman Anthony Bitetto from Milwaukee (AHL). This is Bitetto’s first career recall.

Bitetto, 24 (7/15/90), leads Milwaukee defensemen in points (2g-17a-19pts) while appearing in all 38 of the team’s games in 2014-15. During the team’s current six-game winning streak, the Island Park, New York, native has six points (1g-5a), moving him into a tie for eighth among all AHL blueliners in assists, and into the Top 15 League d-men in points. A season ago, his first full campaign at the AHL level, the 6-0, 215-pounder tied for sixth among AHL defensemen in goals (11), and for ninth in power-play goals (6).

Nashville’s fourth choice, 168th overall (sixth round), in the 2010 Entry Draft, Bitetto did not miss a game during a two-year collegiate career at Northeastern University (Hockey East) from 2010-12, compiling 35 points (7g-28a) in 72 games, and helped the Indiana Ice win the 2009 Clark Cup as United States Hockey League champions. He is on Twitter @ABitetto7.

The Nashville Predators, who are in the midst of a five-game winning streak, take on the Detroit Red Wings tonight (6 p.m. CT, FOX Sports Tennessee, 102.5 The Game) and the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. CT, FOX Sports Tennessee, 102.5 The Game), their final two games before the NHL’s All-Star Break. Following the All-Star Break, the NHL-leading Predators return to Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 27 to face the visiting Colorado Avalanche.

Bitetto has played 144 career games for the Admirals at the time of this call up and has 60 points (14 goals, 46 assists) over three seasons. He also played with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL during the 2012-13 season where he played 23 games scoring 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists). He joins Miikka Salomäki as the second Admiral to earn their first career NHL call up this season.

This news comes before the Admirals take on the Adirondack Flames later tonight. With Taylor Aronson and Johan Alm both seemingly out of the lineup with injury, and no recall from the ECHL, it looks as if the Admirals will have to roll with five defensemen tonight.

Excited for the NHL debut of Anthony Bitetto? What impact will this have on the Admirals game tonight? How do the Admirals work with five defenseman if Aronson and Alm remain hurt?

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

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Flames: Scouting the Enemy

Clune-121214-1

Rich Clune scored his second goal of the season last night from a very similar area on the ice as this photo. Can he repeat the feat? Tune in tonight to find out! (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals set a franchise record with a six-game winning streak to start the season. December happened. And now the Admirals are riding their second six-game winning streak of the season.

During this six-game winning streak the Admirals have outscored opponents 20-5, the goaltending tandem of Marek Mazanec and Magnus Hellberg have stopped 143/148 (0.966 save percentage), the power-play has gone 6/26 (23.1% conversion rate – well up from their overall figure of 16.2%), and the penalty kill has gone 19/21 (90.5% kill rate – their overall figure is 84.0%).

There are so many positives and they’ve all come together at the right time during this run. Two players that have stood out during this winning streak: Viktor Arvidsson, 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists)… Anthony Bitetto, 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists). Arvidsson especially has been playing full-throttle these last few games. His skating ability has been causing big time problems for opponents and he’s been solid on the resurgent Admirals power-play.

In one final stat I’d like for you all to wrap your head around this. Zach Budish has played twelve games for the Milwaukee Admirals this season. They have won all twelve games in which he has played. If you are wondering: Budish has 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists), a plus/minus rating of +5, and 4 penalty minutes. Perhaps it’s just because he plays the right way?

~The Enemy~

The Adirondack Flames have a record of 22-15-2-1 (47 points) and are second in the North Division. They have gone 4-5-1-0 in their last ten games and have lost their last two games entering tonight’s contest.

The Flames haven’t played a game in a week so it will be really interesting to see the difference between the two sides as they lock up. Anticipate a quicker first period for the Admirals with the Flames having an extra step to their game later on.

Technically speaking the Flames leading scorer on the season is Drew Shore with his 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists). The thing is he was recently acquired after a trade between the Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames that saw him and Corban Knight get swapped. Shore was recently called up to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday so that gives “leading scorer” moniker over to Émile Poirier who has 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists).

In former-Admiral land, the Flames have Nolan Yonkman and Mathieu Tousignant on the roster. Yonkman’s leadership qualities have been pretty well documented already but it’s great to see he continues to play well at the AHL level to boot: 7 assists (1 goal, 6 assists), plus/minus rating of -1, and 35 penalty minutes. Tousignant has been on a bit of a roll this month. This season he has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists), a plus/minus rating of -7, and 72 penalty minutes. This month Tousi has 3 assists in four games.

In goal, the Flames have had the duo of Joni Ortio and Brad Thiessen working away. Ortio has played the better majority of games for them but was called up to Calgary last week. The good news for Adirondack is that the numbers between the two are quite close. Ortio: 17-8-1-0 record, 2.52 goals against average, and 0.916 save percentage. Thiessen: 5-7-2-1 record, 2.59 goals against average, and 0.917 save percentage.

Thiessen should be the man in net tonight. He’s a veteran, having played 182 career games, and has played the previous two games for the Flames. The alternative would be Doug Carr who has played 2 career games in the AHL with a playoff cameo last season. He has yet to play in the AHL this season. The majority of his season has been spent with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL.

Expectations for tonight? Will the Admirals winning streak hit seven games? Would you give Rob Madore a start in net tonight?

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

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Van Guilder’s Last Minute Goal Continues The Winning Streak

Hellberg-12714-2

Magnus Hellberg nearly perfect as the Admirals faced one the the top teams in the AHL Friday night. The Ads pushed their win streak to six games with a 2-1 victory over the Utica Comets. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals won 2-1 on the road against the Utica Comets Friday night. It was a last second thriller that saw Mark Van Guilder steal the win for the Ads tonight on his fifth goal of the season. Magnus Hellberg had yet another stellar performance in net and the Admirals have matched the winning streak that started the season with six straight victories.

Mike Liambas returned to the Admirals lineup for the first time since being suspended three games for his illegal check to the head of Grand Rapids Griffins’ Louis-Marc Aubry. Liambas had sat out the last two games as a healthy scratch. And what better way to return to the ice than with a fight in your opening shift. He dropped the gloves with Tom Sestito and both landed some nice punches. Sestito finished it off. I’d give the slight edge in the fight column to the Comets bruiser.

The Admirals would get on the board first after Rich Clune put away his second goal of the season. Ian White’s shot from the point flew in through traffic and into Jacob Markstrom. The puck took some bounces around the cage, near Austin Watson, before falling over to the right wing side of the net to Clune who cleaned up the garbage.

In the second period, after checking Viktor Arvidsson down at one end of the rink, Andrey Pedan had to answer for his actions down at the other end. Jonathan Diaby was the man who paired up with Pedan and landed serval jabs flush before the Comets defenseman landed some decent blows to earn a take down.

After wave upon wave of offensive pressure the Comets finally solved Magnus Hellberg late in the third period. A puck fell to Hunter Shinkaruk who made a spectacular spinning pass against the grain to the opposite post to give Dustin Jeffrey a tap in for his eleventh goal of the season. Hellberg was a perfect 27/27 prior to the equalizing goal for the Comets.

With thirty-four seconds remaining in regulation Mark Van Guilder played spoiler to the Utica Comets comeback bid. Despite being over-matched from the second period onwards the Comets were burned in transition as Van Guilder was free in space on the right wing and beat Markstrom on a wrist shot to the five-hole for the game-winner. The goal for Van Guilder is his fifth of the season and sees the Admirals winning streak match its season high of six games.

It was yet another great night in net for Hellberg who improved his already impressive stat totals to 1.68 goals against average with a 0.936 save percentage – both of which are tops in the AHL this season. With the win tonight he has officially double the amount of wins he earned for the Admirals last season with ten.

Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals included Joe Pendenza (healthy), Frederick Gaudreau (healthy), Kevin Fiala (has yet to join the team), Taylor Aronson (undisclosed injury), and Johan Alm (upper body). Aronson has now missed the last two games due to an undisclosed injury. Alm has now missed seventeen straight games due to an upper body injury. Fiala is yet to join the Admirals and is expected to arrive in Milwaukee on Monday with a chance to debut for Wednesday’s home game against these very same Comets.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? Did the Admirals just get away with robbery with that late goal? Is Magnus Hellberg making his point that he should be up in the NHL right now?

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

Posted in Game Recaps | 2 Comments

Comets: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Lindsay A. Mogle)

Remember that Cal O’Reilly fella? He is now the captain of the Utica Comets. He, like the goaltender behind him Jacob Markström, has been a beast this season. (Photo Credit: Lindsay A. Mogle)

Happy Friday, everybody! This is a scouting report that I have been looking forward to doing for awhile now. The Utica Comets have been one of the best teams in the AHL this entire season. They enter having won seven of their last ten games including the last two contests by a combined 8-3. The Comets offer a complete game and it has worked like magic for them since the start of the season.

~The Who~

The Comets have a record of 24-8-5-0 (53 points) this season which has leading the North Division. The closest team to the Comets in their division are the Adirondack Flames who trail by 5 points despite having played in three more games.

Utica are currently second overall in the Western Conference thanks in small part to the massive surge taking place for the Oklahoma City Barons – who have gone 9-1-0-0 in their last ten games to claim the West’s top seed by 3 points.

~The What~

What has been so effective for the Comets this season has been their defense and goaltending. They’ve only allowed 83 goals all season. The only two teams to have allowed the same or less than the Comets are the Hershey Bears (81 goals allowed) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (83 goals allowed).

The man most responsible for this great goaltending situation in Utica hasn’t seen a whiff of the AHL since the 2005-06 season. That’s right. I’m talking about Ryan Miller. When he signed a three-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks in July it meant a log jam in net was going to happen with either Eddie Läck or Jacob Markström getting it on the chin.

As would be the case, Markström has spent his entire 2014-15 season to date in the AHL with the Comets. His response to the situation is just about exactly what you would want. He has been brilliant when called upon: 12-2-1-0 record, 1.85 goals against average, 0.936 save percentage, and 4 shutouts.

Markström is by no means alone in his efforts this season either. Hailing from exactly the same hometown of Sweden as his Comets battery-mate, Gävle, Joacim Eriksson has more-or-less been the anchor for the Comets in net this season. He has played in more games this season in net and has a record of 12-5-4-0, a 2.38 goals against average, and a 0.914 save percentage.

Eriksson was in net for both head-to-head games against the Admirals and won each contest. In the first meeting between the Ads and Comets last season he had a 21-save shutout in a 3-0 Comets win. He followed that up by stopping 20/23 in Utica and 3/5 in the shootout to end last year’s statline against the Ads with a 1.44 goals against average and 0.932 save percentage.

~The When~

Tonight at 6:00 pm CST…

~The Where~

Fun Fact. The Utica Comets play in the Utica Memorial Auditorium. That happens to be the same barn as seen in the classic film “Slap Shot” where the amazing anthem scene takes place.

~The Why~

Why not stop and think back for a moment about all the good times you’ve had watching Cal O’Reilly play for the Milwaukee Admirals before tonight’s game? It will be only the second time in his career that he faces the Admirals when the Comets captain takes to the ice. His first game was the match-up in Utica last season.

O’Reilly’s track record for the Milwaukee Admirals just about speaks for itself. He is second all-time in the AHL history of the club with 253 points (56 goals, 197 assists). The assists total for him his the most in the AHL history of the team. While his 262 appearances has him eighth all-time in the AHL history of the Admirals.

This season O’Reilly leads the Comets in scoring with 30 points (4 goals, 26 assists). He has a plus/minus rating of -2 and only 6 penalty minutes on the season. His AHL career totals are now at 339 points (68 goals, 271 assists) in 376 games – a 0.90 points per game total.

Expectations for tonight’s game? Can the Admirals winning ways continue over the likes of the hefty Utica Comets? If Kevin Fiala debuts tonight what would that mean for the Admirals forward lineup and which center should he play with?

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