Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Considering the amount of offense that the Grand Rapids Griffins generate it might be an exhausting evening for Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Juuse Saros in net tonight. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Tonight marks the Milwaukee Admirals first trip into the Van Andel Arena since being eliminated by the Grand Rapids Griffins in one of the more bizarre games in recent memory for the Admirals. That night saw two pucks fly clean through a net requiring lengthy review processes that stalled out what had been a good start by the Admirals when they needed it.

One would only hope that officials this time around actually check the quality of the goal nets before dropping a puck before every period just to be sure that absurdity is never repeated. Should the netting not be an issue the action surrounding it will be a little like that playoff environment once again.

The Admirals and the Griffins always seem to have very grinding games that exemplify playoff style hockey. As they stand entering tonight the are first and second in the Central Division. The Admirals still maintain the best record in the AHL, 14-3-2-1 (31 points, 0.775 points percentage). The Griffins have the third best record in the Western Conference, 13-6-1-2 (29 points, 0.659 points percentage).

This is the third meeting of the season between these two teams. The Admirals came back from a 3-0 deficit to earn a point but lost in an overtime heartbreaker. They did respond the next time out by winning with a solid 3-1 performance at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Admirals captain Trevor Smith scored twice in that contest, Vladislav Kamenev added a goal, and Juuse Saros stopped 28/29 shots on goal – only allowing a power-play goal from Tomáš Jurčo coming with a full-two minutes of five-on-three power-play time with 4:31 remaining in regulation.

Saros should have a very busy night tonight. The Admirals defense is without half of the defensive core that played against the Griffins that first time out as Anthony Bitetto, Petter Granberg, and Adam Pardy have since gone up to the Nashville Predators. The Griffins have scored the second most goals in the Western Conference and fourth most in the entire league to this point, 73 goals from 22 games. That is a 3.32 goals per game average. Saros, on the other hand, boasts the second best goals against average in the league among qualified goaltenders at 1.54 goals against average.

Another obstacle in the Admirals path is turning around their fortunes at the Van Andel Arena. Including last year’s playoffs the Admirals have lost their last eight straight games in Grand Rapids (0-7-1-0 record). Their last win in that building came back on 1/31/15 in a 4-0 shutout with Magnus Hellberg in net. In the Dean Evason Era the Admirals are 5-13-1-0 in Grand Rapids and have been shutout by the Griffins 4 times.

The Griffins leading scoring entering this contest is Matt Lorito who ranks third in the AHL in scoring, as well. The former Brown University team captain, who joined the Detroit Red Wings organization from the Albany Devils in the off-season, has 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 22 games this season for the Griffins.

I feel the best bet on who gets the start for the Griffins in net tonight would be Jared Coreau -but- Eddie Pasquale did get the start when the Griffins earned an overtime win over the Admirals in the first meeting of the season. Coreau is fresh off his first career stint in the NHL where he had a less than ideal debut with the Red Wings. He has a record of 8-5-0-0 from 13 games for the Griffins this season to go along with a 2.39 goals against average, 0.923 save percentage, and a shutout. Pasquale has a record of 3-1-1-2 from 7 games, 2.50 goals against average, and a 0.918 save percentage. In Pasquale’s last three starts he has picked up losses in games spilling past regulation: two shootout defeats and one in overtime.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Can the Milwaukee Admirals buck this poor run of results in Grand Rapids? How important will Saros be in net for the Admirals tonight?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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A Composed Effort; Ads Win in Iowa 3-1

(Photo Credit: Ted Sandeen)

(Photo Credit: Ted Sandeen)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 3-1 on the road against the Iowa Wild Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Arena.

It wasn’t always pretty in this game but the Admirals did it yet again. They found some great efforts out of the likes of Adam Payerl, Harry Zolnierczyk, and Juuse Saros on the night to see their AHL best record continue in Iowa. For the Admirals this was their fourteenth win from their opening twenty games.

Last time out the Admirals were able to get an opening minute goal on the road against the Cleveland Monsters. That took them forty-one seconds to accomplish after a tally by Trevor Murphy. Tonight that was not only done again but bettered in the speed department.

It took the Admirals twenty-eight seconds to get ahead in Iowa tonight. Adam Payerl was on a two-on-one and fired a snap shot before a backchecker could clamp him down. Payerl’s shot sailed past Alex Stalock to record his sixth goal of the season and give the Admirals a lightning fast 1-0 lead.

The next tally wouldn’t come until the closing stages of the second period and would see the Wild equalize through Adam Gilmour’s fourth goal of the season. Sam Anas lofted a great pass down the right wing that hit the center lane drive of Gilmour on the tape for a backhanded redirect that flicked up past Juuse Saros on the blocker side to make it a 1-1 game with 29.8 seconds remaining in the second period.

For all the power-play struggles that both teams had in this game it would seem ironic that that’s what would be the game-winning goal for the night. That just so happened to be the case. Having been blanked on their first five chances on the power-play the Admirals scored midway through the third period when Harry Zolnierczyk netted his second goal of the season to restore the Admirals lead. Vladislav Kamenev took a chipped pass by Payerl and wound up for a slap shot, faked the shot, and delivered a perfect feed to Zolnierczyk as he roamed across Stalock for a redirect. It was nearly a mirror image of the Wild’s goal and it put the Admirals out in front 2-1.

As the Wild were getting closer to needing an empty net push the Admirals scored with 2:02 remaining in regulation. Cody Bass was trying to hit Matt White with a pass from the right wing wall as the California native was driving back post. Wild defenseman Zach Palmquist got in the way of the feed but ended up botching his clearance and the puck trickled through the legs of his goaltender and White was alone on the doorstep to push it across for his team leading eighth goal of the season.

After an empty net push was attempted the final horn sounded and the Admirals earned a 3-1 win in Iowa. This game had two great efforts in net between Saros and Stalock. Saros made twenty-saves in the game to earn his ninth win from eleven starts and his seventh consecutive win. Stalock allowed the three goals but did stop thirty-one Admirals shots tonight. He earned a tough luck loss as the Admirals defense really stepped up to prevent much of anything offensively for the Wild to be created. The Wild registered just three shots on goal in the third period.

The Admirals improve their AHL best record to 14-3-2-1 (31 points, 0.775 points percentage). They are the first team in the Western Conference to reach the thirty point plateau and join Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Lehigh Valley, and Hershey for the most points in the league. The difference being that the Admirals have played one to two less games than those teams resting at 31 points.

Next for the Admirals will be a travel day tomorrow. They go from Iowa to Chicago to Grand Rapids. They will then practice in Grand Rapids on Thursday before logging the first road game against the Grand Rapids Griffins this season. That will end the four-game road trip as the Admirals finally return home this Saturday night when they face-off against the Chicago Wolves.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Saturday there were quite a few roster moves made. The Nashville Predators recalled Marek Mazanec and reassigned Mike Liambas, Juuse Saros, and Pontus Åberg. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: White-Smith-Åberg, Zolnierczyk-Kamenev-Payerl, Liambas-Girard-Bass, Florek-Kirkland-Görtz, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Dougherty, Diaby-Kessel. Tonight’s scratches were: Anthony Richard (healthy) and Derek Army (healthy).

Thoughts on tonight’s game? Do you feel like the Milwaukee Admirals actually are a different team when Juuse Saros is in net as opposed to the other goaltending options that have played? Do you feel an NHL recall could be in the future for Adam Payerl and Harry Zolnierczyk given how steady and well they have played this season?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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2017 AHL All-Star Challenge Format Revealed

(Photo Credit: @ManitobaMoose // Twitter)

Last season saw Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason and forward Frédérick Gaudreau win the inaugural AHL All-Star Challenge with the Central Division All-Stars. (Photo Credit: @ManitobaMoose // Twitter)

If you remember last year’s All-Star Game competitions for both the NHL and AHL they were heading into uncharted territory. Both were seeking different but new ways to enhance they manner in which the entertainment of the game is played by creating a more competitive atmosphere. The NHL got it spot on. The AHL’s format a year ago was a bit more over the top. A year later, surprise surprise, the AHL is adopting the more successful formula.

Press Release via AHL:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews announced today the format for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross, to be held January 29-30 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa., home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

The event will begin on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET with the traditional AHL All-Star Skills Competition. All-Stars from the Eastern Conference will square off against All-Stars from the Western Conference in seven skills events, including hardest shot, fastest skater and accuracy shooting.

2017 AHL All-Star Challenge(Click to enlarge)
Then on Monday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. ET, the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge will take place. The league’s all-stars will be divided into four teams, representing each of the league’s divisions (Atlantic, North, Central, Pacific), and the teams will participate in a round-robin tournament featuring six games of 10 minutes each, played entirely at 3-on-3. The two teams with the best records at the end of the round-robin will face off for the championship, a six-minute game also played at 3-on-3. Last year’s inaugural All-Star Challenge was won by the Central Division.

Rosters for each team will be composed of 10 skaters and two goaltenders each. All 30 AHL teams will be represented by at least one All-Star player. The coach for each team will be the AHL head coach whose team has the highest points percentage in each division at the end of play on Dec. 31.

Starting at just $67, tickets for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross are on sale now and include admission to Saturday’s Phan Fest & Tailgate Party, Sunday’s AHL All-Star Skills Competition and Monday’s AHL All-Star Challenge. To purchase event tickets, please visit www.phantomshockey.com or www.pplcenter.com.

The 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League: since 1995, more than 93 percent of All-Star Classic participants have gone on to compete in the National Hockey League, including Jake Allen, Artem Anisimov, Patrice Bergeron, Ben Bishop, Troy Brouwer, Ryan Callahan, Zdeno Chara, Logan Couture, Braden Holtby, Tyler Johnson, Martin Jones, Chris Kunitz, Zach Parise, Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Bobby Ryan, Cory Schneider, Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza, P.K. Subban and Mats Zuccarello, as well as former Lehigh Valley Phantoms representatives Nick Cousins, Brandon Manning and Anthony Stolarz.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, trainers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of NHL players last season were AHL graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers. In 2015-16, over 7.1 million fans attended AHL regular-season and playoff games across North America, the highest total attendance in league history.

The short and sweet of it can best be understood by the following infographic that the AHL provided to explain the new All-Star Challenge format:2017-asc-infographic

Again, it is basically what the NHL cooked up for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game that took place in Nashville and was met with tons of praise, excitement, and John Scott. It gets rid of the jumbled up four-on-four portion of the AHL’s version of the All-Star Game a year ago and should make for a more streamlined game.

Should things keep up as they are the Central Division All-Stars could have Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason behind the bench just as they did when they won the Inaugural AHL All-Star Challenge a season ago. If the Admirals have the best record in their division by the end of the month of December it will see Evason earn the All-Star nod as a coach for the second consecutive season.

What are your thoughts on the AHL’s change to their All-Star Game? Did you enjoy their version more last season or did the NHL’s version make more sense?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Wild: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Reese Strickland)

Teemu Pulkkinen, code named The Holy Slapper, has been unleashed back into the AHL through the Iowa Wild this season. It’s a wonder why no other NHL organization tried to claim him off waivers for a second time when he cleared from the Minnesota Wild. (Photo Credit: Reese Strickland)

The Milwaukee Admirals had a long layoff a week ago that saw them sitting for six straight days before playing a game. With a stretched roster they fell 4-1 to the Cleveland Monsters for their first regulation loss since the end of October. The next night, with an even more stretched squad, they bounced right back against the Monsters with a 4-1 win of their own.

Great news is that some roster relief is in sight for the Admirals. And it isn’t just limited to the forward roles, either. The Admirals will have Pontus Åberg, Mike Liambas, and Juuse Saros all on-hand for tonight’s game. Åberg has been a point per game player at the AHL level this season. Liambas provides such a physical but also defensively polished approach on the lower lines that can help tilt the ice back to offense. And Saros is the reigning AHL/CCM Goaltender of the Month  who arrives back to the AHL where he is riding a personal winning streak of six straight games.

Saros should be a very welcome addition because I believe that the Finn might be able to help neutralize the Iowa Wild’s Finn, Teemu Pulkkinen. When the Admirals last played the Wild it was only Pulkkinen’s second game with the Wild after a hectic waiver wire start to his season saw him switch NHL organizations and then end up down in Iowa. He looked lost in that game in Milwaukee that ended in a 5-3 win for the Admirals. Since? He’s looked just like his old AHL self when he was explosive for the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Pulkkinen has played 15 games for the Wild this season. He is a point per game player with 15 points (8 goals, 7 assists). Half of his goals scored come on the Wild’s power-play which comes in eleventh in the league on home ice (21.4%). He has always had a stunning slap shot. But now he appears to be finally settled into the Wild organization. He shouldn’t look like a lost puppy as he did that first game against the Admirals a month ago. He should be the man that needs to get clamped down. He hasn’t scored a point in the last two games, true, but before that he had goals in four straight games. Saros should enter from Nashville and instantly find a nice test from a re-energized Wild offense.

Speaking of re-energized. The Wild, like the Admirals yesterday, did pick up some help ahead of tonight’s game from their parent club. Zack Mitchell and Gustav Olofsson were both reassigned by the Minnesota Wild to the AHL yesterday. Mitchell has split time almost evenly between the NHL and AHL ranks this season. Meanwhile Olofsson has mainly been at the AHL level and has performed very well for Iowa this season from the blueline: 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) in 21 games.

The Wild are currently fifth in the Central Division with a record of 10-11-1-1 (22 points, 0.478 points percentage). They have played four more games than the Admirals have to this point. They average 2.7 goals scored per game while allowing an average of 3,3 goals against per game. Compared to the Admirals, who roll a 2.8 goals per game and 2.4 goals against per game, they’re defense can be a bit erratic.

In net the Wild have shared time between Steve Michalek and Alex Stalock. The majority of game action to this point has favored the Stalock (14 games) over Michalek (12 games). The two both have pretty average to below average numbers on the season. Stalock: 6-6-1-0 record, 3.02 goals against average, 0.901 save percentage, and a shutout. Michalek: 4-5-0-1 record, 3.28 goals against average, and a 0.912 save percentage.

Tonight’s game starts at 7:00 PM CST. After the game completes the next journey for the Admirals takes them to Grand Rapids for the first time this season. They’ll be traveling tomorrow, practicing there on Thursday, and then getting the Griffins at the Van Andel Arena Friday night at 6:00 PM CST. It will complete the Admirals four game road trip. The Admirals return home this Saturday night when they get the Chicago Wolves at 6:00 PM CST.

Expectations for tonight’s game? How big of a boost will the recent returns from the Nashville Predators be for the Milwaukee Admirals?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Saros & Åberg Down, Mazanec Up

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The goaltending rodeo continues for the Nashville Predators organization. They have recalled Marek Mazanec from the Milwaukee Admirals and reassigned Juuse Saros and Pontus Åberg to their AHL affiliate. This move comes a day prior to both the Predators and Admirals playing games: Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche, Admirals @ Iowa Wild.

Mazanec’s most recent spell with the Admirals saw him make three starts in which he earned a pair of wins with a 0.907 save percentage. Saros managed to make two starts for the Predators during his latest NHL stint and lost both times out. It wasn’t for a lack of effort on his part. The young Finn in his three starts for the Predators this season now has a 1.70 goals against average and 0.940 save percentage. He returns to the Admirals after having been named the AHL/CCM Goaltender of the Month for November.

Åberg follows yesterday’s roster move that saw Mike Liambas also returning to the Admirals. This all should give the Admirals a boost at the forward position where the team required signing Derek Army on a PTO basis from the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) last game in order to help facilitate playing 12 forwards in their lineup. Åberg produced 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) in 9 games for the Predators this season. To this point he has actually played as many games for the Predators as he has the Admirals where he has been a point per game player at the AHL level with 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists).

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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The Long Game That Follows Juniors

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The early days of a professional hockey career can all be a bit wild and overwhelming. The key is to simply the approach to the game and not get caught out doing too much too fast. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals have four first-year talents on their roster this season. There are two defenseman, Alex Carrier and Jack Dougherty. And there are two forwards, Justin Kirkland and Anthony Richard. While Carrier has seemingly hit the ground running it isn’t completely the case for his fellow rookies.

Dougherty entered this season having had the benefit of joining the Admirals late last season and getting to experience game action ahead of the team’s Calder Cup playoff run. The Admirals are Dougherty’s fourth different team in four years after having gone from the U.S. National Development Team, the University of Wisconsin, and then the Portland Winterhawks. Him having joined at the end of the season and keeping with the program is effectively the longest run with a single team that he’s had since playing for St. Thomas Academy when he was 16-years old.

Richard, like Dougherty, also joined the Admirals late last season and got to log game time. Unlike Dougherty though those games that Richard played were playoff games. He was thrown right into the fire in the opening round series against the Grand Rapids Griffins and while playing through a lower-body injury sustained at the end of his last junior playing season. His time with Val-d’Or (QMJHL) spanned four-years in which he produced 238 points (111 goals, 127 assists) in 232 games.

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

Kirkland was the lone rookie this season that didn’t benefit from being around the Admirals at the end of last season. Carrier was able to do that and was joined by fellow Gatineau teammate and Predators prospect Yakov Trenin. Carrier unlike Dougherty, Richard, and Trenin just never had the opportunity to play. The reason for Kirkland’s absence was simply due to the great performance he and the Kelowna Rockets were putting together at the end of the season that saw their playoff run outlast the Admirals. Kirkland worked his way from the Saskatchewan junior scene before making it to Kelowna in the WHL. Once he made it there he totaled 169 points (71 goals, 98 assists) in 199 games.

All three of these players come from outstanding junior backgrounds before turning pro. So how are two forwards that had a combined 0.94 points per game still without a single point in the AHL through the Admirals first 19 games of the season?

At this point, for all the rookies, Kirkland and Richard are the lone of the group to have ventured out to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. It wasn’t a demotion based purely out of performance, either. The Admirals forward depth this season is very -very- deep and you can look at recent Nashville Predators games as evidence to just that. In their brief spells with the Cyclones they were being afforded ice-time that they wouldn’t otherwise be getting at the AHL level. And that, to a degree, says something about why a lesser start for the two is happening.

The biggest point for what I see with Kirkland and Richard is that they are two high level scoring talents from the junior ranks that sometimes get caught out doing too much too fast too often. Kirkland has had the better and more consistent approach in his 13 games with the Admirals. He has mainly played at center and is looking closer and closer to getting a breakthrough offensively. Richard’s speed is electric but he has moments where he can drift a bit and move out of areas on the ice that could help him produce. I’m sure that the pace of the pro game has been a touch hectic to adjust to. That proceed is simply being shown more in the form of an empty stat total from two forwards completely capable of doing much more.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Things haven’t been completely out of whack for Dougherty but what has been, for sure, is finding someone for him to pair with on a nightly basis. Dougherty has pretty much been paired with everyone defensively this season who has a left-hand shot: Trevor Murphy, Jimmy Oligny, and -most recently- Jonathan Diaby. Over the course of a season familiarity gets really good through game experience and the plethora of practices a team will go through. But, to go through this many permutations this early, it is a bit of a test for Dougherty to find his own feet. While Carrier and Adam Pardy‘s pairing has its own great chemistry and has had it from the moment Pardy has arrived there is something to be said about those two getting to evolve and get better as a tandem the more time they get to feed off each other. Dougherty has yet to really have that. And, with how the Predators injury troubles seem to keep flaring up, I’m not sure when he will.

It’s important for all of these rookies that have been off to a slower start to not end up gripping their sticks tight and continue to go through the learning process at hand. That less is more approach might even be the best way for all three to start getting loose and finding a groove. It isn’t juniors anymore. That point per game average isn’t going to massively translate into the AHL in a heartbeat. What all have around them though is what can help them slowly get a foothold and start finding some of that junior level success. Kirkland’s pairing on a line with Max Görtz in recent games has been so close to getting goals. Richard having a quick spell for the Cyclones that saw him earn his first pro goal and assist can be an evaluation point as to finding more of that night in and night out. It’s simply a matter of time.

Under the Dean Evason Era of the Admirals the team has had seven first-year skaters from the CHL play upwards of 50 games in a season for them. Their combined points per game average was 0.34 in that first-pro season compared to a combined points per game average of 0.67 in their CHL careers. The pro game that first full-season requires a long game mentality. There is a lot to adjust to. Provided all continue to learn from the experiences they are getting these slower starts can start to climb in the right direction.

What have you thought of the first-year pros that the Milwaukee Admirals have had this season? Do you feel that the depth needs a bit more replenishing right now or is the group around right now good enough to outlast the Nashville Predators injury bugs?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Mike Liambas Reassigned to Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Nashville Predators reassigned Mike Liambas to the Milwaukee Admirals ahead of their game this evening against the Philadelphia Flyers. The move comes a day after Liambas made his NHL debut as well as a day after the Predators claimed Reid Boucher off of waivers from the New Jersey Devils.

Liambas played 4:42 of ice-time over the course of eight shifts yesterday afternoon when making his NHL debut with the Predators. The team lost 5-4 in overtime after having a 4-1 lead entering the third period. Liambas had logged 201 games in the AHL, 87 games in the ECHL, and 50 games between the IHL and CWUAA before making his NHL debut yesterday. Liambas became the 607th player to play an NHL game after having played at the ECHL level – which he did for both the Orlando Solar Bears and Cincinnati Cyclones.

It should be expected for Liambas to join the Admirals who are traveling today to Iowa and then take part in Tuesday night’s road game against the Iowa Wild. As of yet the Admirals haven’t released any of the two players signed to PTO contracts yesterday, Derek Army or Blake Kessel, ahead of that game. Given just how stretched the Admirals are at the moment it could be safe to assume that says the case. The Admirals even with the inclusion of Liambas would be one forward over and needing to healthy scratch Army Tuesday night.

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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A Bit More Like It; Ads Win 4-1

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 4-1 on the road against the Cleveland Monsters Saturday night at the Quicken Loans Arena.

This was a return to form effort by the Admirals. They were able to sandwich a less than stellar second period by scoring goals in the opening minute of both the first and third periods tonight. Vladislav Kamenev had himself a three point night scoring a goal and two assists. Trevor Murphy contributed his second multi-goal game of the season. And Harry Zolnierczyk was just about everywhere on the ice as he picked up a pair of assists for good measure.

After a lethargic performance last night the Admirals looked to instantly buck the trend right out of the starting blocks tonight. It took them just forty-one seconds to notch the game’s opening goal and it came from a blast from the left wing face-off dot by Trevor Murphy. The Admirals second-year defenseman’s slap shot zipped past a great screen by Harry Zolnierczyk in front of Anton Forsberg to make it a quick 1-0 game.

During a four-on-four stretch in the first period the Monsters would answer back with a goal of their own. A rush into the Admirals defensive zone saw Daniel Zaar drop off to the on-rushing Blake Siebenaler who stepped up from the blue line to catch out Matt White defensively. Siebenaler caught the drop pass on his backhand, glided in on the backhand, and snapped off a powerful backhanded shot that beat Marek Mazanec on the near post and the Czech’s glove side for the defenseman’s first pro goal.

After T.J. Tynan was called for slashing Murphy behind the play, which negated a Monsters rush that was breaking into the Admirals defensive half of the ice, the Admirals picked up their third power-play chance of the opening period. The Admirals entered the night with the worst road power-play in the AHL and only registered a single shot on goal from their previous two chances earlier in the frame. This would chance once Zolnierczyk swooped around the net to deliver a pass in the left wing circle for Murphy who’s one-timer deflected off Ryan Craig’s stick and flew past Forsberg for his second goal of the night and fourth of the season to restore the Admirals lead.

There wasn’t much of anything going for the Admirals in the second period. In fact, the lack of offensive output by them was the lowest in any frame all season. The Admirals registered a season low three shots on goal in the second period against the Monsters tonight. It was one fewer shot than the previous low coming on the road against the San Antonio Rampage in the third period of the second game of the season.

Despite that poor second period for the Admirals they did keep the scoreline at 2-1. Whatever was said at the second intermission must have made an impact because the Admirals scored in the opening minute of the third period to give themselves a two-goal lead. Vladislav Kamenev scored his sixth goal of the season off of a wicked backhander. The goal for Kamenev gave him a three point night as he picked up assists on both Murphy goals.

With the roster activity being wild today it seems almost fitting that two players, signed on PTO contracts earlier this morning, would earn assists on the same goal. That would happen when the Admirals made it 4-1 through Justin Florek’s second goal of the season which was assisted by the newly added Derek Army and Blake Kessel. Florek’s shot appeared to catch Forsberg by surprise as Florek ripped it to the near post from the low left wing. That puck had to have had eyes and Forsberg didn’t allow for much space to his blocker side.

If were a different night, different game, different team, or just a different set of officials Kamenev might have picked up the fighting major in the third period that’d have given him the Gordie Howe hat trick. After a hooking call against Jimmy Oligny was whistled down Monsters forward Justin Scott proceeded to continue on with the puck towards Mazanec. Kamenev went right for him and the two landed some pretty solid punches. Perhaps these referees couldn’t be bothered with the new AHL fighting policy like the rest of us as it resulted in a pair of roughing minors.

The final horn would sound to signal in a 4-1 win for the Admirals tonight in Cleveland. This was their final game on the road to face the Monsters this season and the Admirals won three of the four contests. The Monsters have yet to travel to Milwaukee. That won’t happen until January 24th.

A tip of the cap can be given to Admirals goaltender Marek Mazanec tonight. He was making effectively his second start in two nights against last year’s defending Calder Cup champions and looked real sharp in both games. Tonight was the better of the two performances for the Czech. He made twenty-eight saves tonight and only allowed the lone goal coming from Siebenaler on the rush during a four-on-four. The win for Mazanec was his third in five starts with the Admirals this season.

The Admirals road trip keeps on rolling. The team will not return home once during this four game road trip. Now that the first two legs have been completed the Admirals will travel to Iowa tomorrow, practice in Iowa on Monday, and then go to work against the Iowa Wild on Tuesday night at 7:00 PM CST. Wednesday the Admirals travel to Grand Rapids, they practice there on Thursday, play against the Grand Rapids Griffins on the road for the first time all season on Friday night at 6:00 PM CST, and finally return back home to Milwaukee on Saturday when they get the Chicago Wolves at 6:00 PM CST.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there were actually a number of roster moves. The Nashville Predators recalled defenseman Adam Pardy as well as forward Miikka Salomäki. For Salomäki the recall ends his conditioning assignment but he left last night’s game at the midway point due to a lower-body injury and never returned. As a result of those moves the Admirals signed forward Derek Army and defenseman Blake Kessel to PTO Contracts this morning. Army plays for the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) and Kessel, related to both Phil and Amanda, was recently traded to the Kalamazoo Wings from the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL). Kessel is the current top scoring defenseman in the ECHL. He has yet to report to Kalamazoo and has since been suspended by the team for doing so. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were White-Smith-Bass, Zolnierczyk-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Kirkland-Army, Richard-Girard-Görtz, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Dougherty, Diaby-Kessel. Mike Liambas made his NHL debut today in the Nashville Predators 5-4 overtime loss at home against the New Jersey Devils. Liambas became the 607th former ECHL product to reach the NHL.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? How impressed were you by the Milwaukee Admirals response on the ice tonight given just how depleted the team actually is right now?

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Adam Pardy Recalled by Nashville

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Nashville Predators have recalled Adam Pardy from the Milwaukee Admirals. The Predators recently signed the veteran defenseman to an NHL deal on Wednesday.

This is a rather good story in what had been a hectic 2016-17 season for Pardy. The 32-year old had attempted to win an NHL role with the Florida Panthers out of pre-season camp but lost out and ended up signing an AHL deal with the Springfield Falcons. He never suited up for the Falcons and was acquired by the Admirals in a trade that saw Eric Robinson, Teddy Doherty, and Brandon Whitney get moved in exchange.

It was quickly apparent that the move to the organization was great for all involved. Pardy had played incredibly well for the Admirals alongside first-year defenseman Alex Carrier and the defensive pairing has effectively been the first choice option. Pardy has 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 13 games for the Admirals this season with 10 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of +1.

This move should see a follow up on the Admirals side of things. The team was already stretched to capacity last night but saw Miikka Salomäki leave the game midway through due to a lower-body injury. It isn’t clear what his status will be come tonight’s road game against the Cleveland Monsters. At the very least, right now, it would be safe to assume the Admirals are short a forward and defenseman due to all the injuries occurring topside for the Predators.

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Point Streak Ends; Ads Lose 4-1 in Cleveland

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-1 on the road against the Cleveland Monsters Friday night at the Quicken Loans Arena.

For the Admirals tonight the case of rust versus rest came up rust. This was the Admirals first game in nearly a week and it resulted in the team’s first regulation loss since the home opener on 10/29/16 against the Iowa Wild. It snaps an eleven-game point streak that stretched from the end of October through the entirety of November. Adam Payerl scored his fifth goal of the season late in the third period to deny Joonas Korpisalo a shutout on the night.

This game got off on the wrong foot as the Admirals looked every bit the team that has been sitting without game action for nearly a full week. A turnover behind the net by Jonathan Diaby went to T.J. Tynan who quickly passed from the trapezoid to Daniel Zaar for a one-timer that beat Marek Mazanec before he knew what happened to make it a 1-0 Monsters lead.

Moments later there was a brief moment of elation for the Admirals that ended up being was waved off for a no goal call. Adam Pardy was able to wheel in on goal and provided what would have been a highlight reel goal for the veteran defenseman. Unfortunately some pushing and shoving in front of goaltender Joonas Korpisalo ended with Harry Zolnierczyk falling a bit too close to the netminder for the officials liking and the goal was waved off for incidental contact.

Miikka Salomäki was making his return to game action tonight on conditioning assignment from the Nashville Predators. Yet in the first period his bull in a china shop mentality did get the better of him with a stiff cross-check in the neutral zone. The Monsters entered the contest with the worst power-play in the league. That wouldn’t matter as a left wing shot pass by captain Ryan Craig found Zaar all alone with a trailing Pardy late to defend the redirected shot. Zaar would pick up his second goal of the first period and push his season total to five on the season.

In the second period, looking to inject his bench with some energy, Cody Bass dropped the gloves in the neutral zone with 6’7” defenseman Oleg Yevenko. The two had a very spirited bout and one that was pretty even in my fight card. The Admirals entered the night with the fewest fighting majors in the league this season. As a team this fight by Bass was just their fifth fighting major on the 2016-17 season.

The Monsters would extend their lead to 3-0 shortly after a power-play expired. After Jordan Maletta won an in-zone face-off the puck went back to Blake Siebenaler who passed off to his defensive partner on the left point Jaime Sifers. The slap shot from Sifers snuck past some traffic and beat Mazanec low to the glove side for the defenseman’s second goal of the season.

There was hope for yet another miraculous Cardiac Kids effort by the Admirals late in the third period. Harry Zolnierczyk and Adam Payerl were chipping around the left wing side of the net for a loose puck and Payerl got a shot elevated past Korpisalo to deny the Finn a shutout bid tonight. Payerl’s fifth goal of the season made it a 3-1 game with 7:44 remaining in regulation.

The hope was a long shot. The Admirals needed a rapid fire response the likes of which happened when they last played on the road against the Rockford IceHogs. A near chance by Justin Florek almost saw that happen to narrow the deficit to one-goal but Korpisalo fended it off. The Monsters would finish things off with an empty netter by Oliver Bjorkstrand for his seventh goal of the season. The 4-1 loss for the Admirals was their first in regulation in over a month. That last defeat in regulation came all the way back on 10/29/16 at the home opener against the Iowa Wild.

If there is any good news on the night it is that this game isn’t staying in the memory bank for too long. These two teams go right back at it again tomorrow night at 5:00 PM CST.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Saturday there were three roster moves of note. Tylor Spink was released from his loan to the Admirals and returned to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. Miikka Salomäki was assigned to the Admirals from the Nashville Predators on a conditioning assignment. Adam Pardy, who has been with the Admirals since being acquired from the Springfield Falcons, was then signed to an NHL contract by the Predators. Both moves took place on Wednesday. Speaking of the Predators, their injury troubles stand as follows: James Neal was pushed from day-to-day to week-to-week basis with an upper-body injury, Anthony Bitetto broke his hand and is expected to miss the next six weeks, Colton Sissons remains out with an upper-body injury, and Ryan Ellis partially participated in Thursday practice for the Predators but remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Admirals had no scratches tonight with a fully stretched roster. Of note in tonight’s game, it appeared as though Salomäki did not play the entire third period. It is not clear as to the reason why that was the case.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? Do you feel this result can be simply chalked up to the Milwaukee Admirals being stationary for six-days? Are you at all worried that the Admirals need better defensive depth at the moment with the injuries up top?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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