Cardiac Kids Once More; Ads Win 5-4 in OT

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-4 in overtime against the Charlotte Checkers at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Sunday evening.

It was yet another less than favorable start for the Admirals who once again fell asleep at puck drop. But, once again, they rallied back to find a way to win.

“We’ve talked a lot about our character and our group all year. These last few games it’s showed,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “Nothing has really got us down: a bad penalty, a bad goal, timing. We’re able to withstand it.”

For the third consecutive game during this three-game homestand the Admirals lost the opening face-off only to pick the puck out of their net following the game’s first shift. Andrew Miller passed into the low left wing circle where Lucas Wallmark didn’t get all of his first-time shot. As the puck came off his stick poorly it fluttered in on Marek Mazanec and the change-up beat him to provide Wallmark his seventeenth goal of the season. The opening goal came just nineteen seconds into the game.

“We talked to the group after the game and asked them who they’d like us to start next game at home,” smirked Evason. “Because we’ve tried everybody.”

The Admirals did get an appropriate response not too long after Dennis Robertson was called for a slash. After jarring a puck free from the right wing wall the Admirals power-play unit setup shop and Mike Ribeiro was able to tee up Alex Carrier for a one-timer in the high slot that launched past Alex Nedeljkovic for his sixth goal of the season.

After having scored so early into the game the Checkers only managed to get one more shot on the board over the next ten minutes. Yet, with shot number three, the Checkers scored once again. Andrew Poturalski delivered a spinning pass to the net-front where Kris Newbury was camped out all alone for a tap-in and his seventh tally of the season to make it a 2-1 Checkers lead.

There was a scary moment to start the second period. Anthony Richard, well known for his incredible speed, lost an edge and went crashing violently into the end boards in an incident reminiscent of how he was injured when playing for the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL during December. Doug Agnew ran on the ice and checked on Richard before the two left the ice. Richard was able to skate off under his own power and returned later in the period.

Moments after the Richard injury the Checkers pounced to get the lead up to 3-1. Haydn Fleury’s point shot was collected off the initial save by Mazanec by Valentin Zykov. The Checkers’ Russian was left all alone in front of the net to record his fourteenth goal of the season.

That goal seemed to wake up the Admirals offense. The moments that followed were spent in attack and they quickly answered. Andrew O’Brien hammered a shot from the left point that popped off the left pad of Nedeljkovic. Frédérick Gaudreau was able to step in off the slot and put a low backhander in from the rebound to earn his twelfth goal of the season.

At the midway point of the contest the Checkers restored their two goal lead. Miller made a dazzling play along the left wing that saw him snake past Petter Granberg and Justin Kirkland before letting a backhanded shot stay along the ice and sneak past the Mazanec as he held the near post. Miller’s third goal of the season made it a 4-2 Checkers lead.

With 1:13 remaining in the second period Derek Army took it upon himself to get the Admirals a late period goal. He was racing down the left wing with Trevor Carrick defending him and sent a backhander off the pads of Nedeljkovic, cut behind Carrick, and won the race to his own rebound to pop in his sixth goal of the season and make it a 4-3 game at the end of the second period.

“You never know, goalies have a tough time with the backhand,” described Army. “They don’t always know where it is going so I think it kind of surprised him.”

To start the third period off the Admirals equalized to make it a 4-4 contest. Adam Payerl took a pass from Vladislav Kamenev and had all kinds of speed behind him as he entered the attacking zone. He veered towards the right wing circle before unleashing a wicked wrister that beat Nedeljkovic against the grain to the stick side for his twelfth goal of the season.

This game required overtime and the stage was set for Gaudreau who finished things off by scoring his second of the game and thirteenth of the season. He glided down the left wing, dangled, pulled back on the backhand shot to fake out Nedeljkovic, and then released his backhand shot into the roof to earn the Admirals a comeback 5-4 win in overtime.

“I saw one of their guys was tired maybe because he couldn’t change,” commented Gaudreau of the game-winner in overtime. “Carrier gave me a good pass. I saw Mike Ribeiro on the side but I wasn’t sure about the pass so I just decided to keep it.”

The Admirals are now on a bit of a break in their schedule. They won’t be in action until this coming Friday and Saturday night when they face-off against the Grand Rapids Griffins on the road at the dreaded Van Andel Arena. After that the Admirals travel to see these Checkers on the road next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Admirals next home game is on Saturday March 4th when the Manitoba Moose make their return to the Admirals schedule for the first time since the end of November.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played on Friday night they saw the Nashville Predators recall Kevin Fiala. That was the lone roster move made by the organization. The Predators lost 5-2 on the road to the Minnesota Wild last night in their first game back out of their NHL mandated bye-week. Tonight’s line combinations were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, White-Smith-Åberg, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s lone scratch was Adam Pardy who missed his fourteenth straight game after suffering a compound fracture to his left arm.

What was your reaction to tonight’s game? What about these last three-games and the opening shift? How important was it for the Milwaukee Admirals to sweep this week’s homestand to get rolling?

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.

Posted in Game Recaps | Leave a comment

Kevin Fiala Recalled by Nashville

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Nashville Predators have recalled Kevin Fiala from the Milwaukee Admirals. The Predators will be returning to action tonight on the road against the Minnesota Wild in their first game out of their bye-week.

Fiala returns to the Predators for the first time since mid-January. He has played 32 games in the NHL this season and produced 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists) with an even plus/minus rating and 10 penalty minutes. With the Admirals this season Fiala has scored 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) from 22 games with a plus/minus rating of +8 with 45 penalty minutes.

In his latest spell with the Admirals the 20-year old played a solid stretch of 15 games. Fiala was energetic from the moment he returned to the AHL and scored a game-winner in overtime against the Checkers in his second game back down. Upon his return to the Predators he does so after having scored twice this past week in Milwaukee and on both occasions he scored the equalizer in the third period in comeback bids that resulted in wins. The finishing has been up-and-down at times but his work rate has been off the charts in his month stint back with the 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.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Chatterbox, Vol. 181

(Photo Credit: Jamie Wahl)

(Photo Credit: Jamie Wahl)

I’m not sure what it is lately about the Milwaukee Admirals in the opening minute these last two games. Was it that Félix Girard hypnotized the Admirals on Wednesday night? Was it that the Charlotte Checkers came in on a hot streak and showed instantly why that was? Not sure I can put my finger on it but the Admirals were completely flat on both nights.

What I am sure about is the team’s resilient attitude, which shined early and often to start this season, is coming back. In both Wednesday night and last night’s game the Admirals have rallied back from opening minute goals and ended up recording five unanswered to close out the night.

In particular, when the Admirals were behind 3-1 to the Checkers after the first period last night there was a real sense of here we go again. The two power-play goals allowed at the end of that frame along with the sleeping on the opening shift of the game reminded me of that great quote from head coach Dean Evason from five games ago: “We don’t give teams anything until we give teams everything.”

As bad as that opening period was. As flat as the better majority of the second period was. The Admirals never looked out of it and the Checkers didn’t do enough of a job in delivering the killer blow. If anything I feel like the Checkers seemed to attempt to rest on that first period as best they could from the second period to the end. But, when Adam Payerl started plugging away at the end of the second period and setup Vladislav Kamenev to score his second goal of the game, things shifted. There was 1:25 remaining in the second period when that was scored and it cut the deficit to one.

While the 6-3 scoreline can suggest run roughshod from then on out that still wasn’t the case. The score gets skewed by the pair of empty netters at the end of the game. Actually, the Admirals really knuckled down against the Checkers in the final twenty-minutes. The Checkers outshot the Admirals 16-11 in that third period. It wasn’t until there was 4:27 remaining in regulation when one of the sweetest looking passing plays you ever did see happened to make it 3-3 with a tally from Kevin Fiala – you could watch it all day and it wouldn’t get old. Justin Kirkland would power out on the left wing and then let a wrister soar into the top shelf near post on Alex Nedeljkovic with 2:53 remaining.

It’s been a mixed bag for awhile now with the Admirals. And, frankly, the last two games have shown a pretty solid spectrum of all those highs and lows. What is most important that I’m seeing is that the mistakes are gradually being weeded out, poor turnovers are being minimized, and that the offense -because the “defense first” mentality is sinking in- is starting to make good strides.

An overlooked area at the moment is also that the Admirals are finally running on a clean bill of health as are their parent club. Both should be benefiting from having that be the case. Having a roster as deep and as strong as the Admirals possess right now is a luxury not all AHL teams can actually say they have. Considering the three-game homestand was demanded of the Admirals to start creating a home-ice advantage to set the benchmark for the home heavy end to their season? They’re using that strength well to earn regulation wins in comeback fashion. All that is needed next is to sustain the success.

A final note of last night’s game. “Slap Shot” night to me was absolutely fantastic. Everything about it: the specialty uniforms only being worn for one game, the amount of fans that wore their Chiefs jerseys, the Hanson Brothers coming down and being just a joy for all the fans -and Admirals players- they chatted with, and then having a game end up being almost as nutty or theatrical as the film that played afterwards on the jumbotron. If the promotion were done all the time? It might be taken for granted or become a tad dull. But gosh would I love seeing it done just like that again every few seasons because it was a blast.

After last night’s game I did speak with Evason. I then had to do a double take with Kirkland because he wanted to talk about assistant coach Scott Ford after the initial interview ended. Then Fiala was roped in for a chat following the news that he was being recalled by the Predators. And then I got the scoop from the man whose jersey sold for the highest amount last night, Mike Liambas.

Comments on the comments? Are the Milwaukee Admirals starting to fit the puzzle pieces back together? How important is it for the health of the team to create consistency with the lineup and therefore the night-in and night-out play? Would you be in favor of more Slap Shot nights such as last night in the future?

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.

Posted in Chatterbox | Leave a comment

Hats Off For Kamenev; Ads Win 6-3

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 6-3 against the Charlotte Checkers at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Friday night.

For the second consecutive game the Admirals allowed a goal from the game’s first shift only to end up rattling off five unanswered goals. Vladislav Kamenev recorded a hat trick on the night as the Admirals pulled off another comeback victory.

“We talked about home ice. We wanted to create a home ice atmosphere, some kind of close to dominance or people not liking to come here,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “And both games we talked about we give up a goal the first shift. It can’t happen. We have to start better and that’s on us, its on the coaching staff, and obviously filters to the players. But the way we continue to work and play the game the right way as the game goes on is really positive for us. It was a nearly carbon copy opening minute tonight as so happened on Wednesday. The Checkers won the opening face-off and were in complete attack mode for a full minute until cycling to a back post feed for Valentin Zykov in the low left wing. He was wide open for a first-time shot that beat Marek Mazanec for his twelfth goal of the season. Clearly you don’t want to keep coming back in  hockey games but it is a positive note that we have.”

The Admirals did get a response from their first power-play opportunity. Trevor Smith sent Vladislav Kamenev loose down the right wing where the Russian flicked a backhander near post on Michael Leighton. It was a shot the all-time AHL shutout king would like to have back. Kamenev’s shot rolled up Leighton’s glove arm on the near post and into the net for his eleventh goal of the season.

The first period would end with the Checkers scoring twice on the power-play to take a 3-1 lead. A weak shot by Andrej Nestrasil fumbled its way to the goal mouth where Andrew Poturalski swatted it up and into the net for his tenth goal of the season. The Checkers put together another passing clinic, much like their opening goal, and it ended with a slick no-look backhand pass by Zykov in the low left wing that went through Mazanec and the defending Jimmy Oligny right to the tape of Phil Di Giuseppe who scored on a one-timer for his tenth goal of the season.

In the second period there were quite a few swaps in net. Mazanec had a skate issue which saw Jonas Gunnarsson step in for a brief 1:27 of hockey before Mazanec hopped right back in net. Leighton then suffered an apparent injury and gave way to Alex Nedeljkovic for the Checkers.

By the time that Nedeljkovic had warmed up he saw a puck crawl past him with 1:25 remaining in the second period. Adam Payerl was digging for second and third chance opportunities off of a rebound and the puck tickled back in the slot for Kamenev to put home his second of the night and twelfth goal of the season.

Kamenev was the engine for the Admirals through the opening two periods. Perhaps that is why Poturalski attempted to whip his right leg out in the third period. A scrum quickly broke out and it resulted in Jimmy Oligny pairing up with Kris Newbury for a scrap. The two slugged it out a bit and relented once the punched their gas tanks out.

With less than five minutes remaining in regulation the Admirals managed to equalize. It was a beautifully orchestrated tic-tac-toe play with Mike Ribeiro with the tic right wing for Frédérick Gaudreau who went tac back post for the toe in Kevin Fiala who finished off a thrilling passing play for his seventh goal of the season.

The Admirals would get their first lead of the night with 2:53 remaining in regulation. Justin Kirkland launched a rocket of a wrist shot from the left wing that flew past the near post of Nedeljkovic for the first-year pro’s fifth goal of the season.

“[Scott Ford] has been teaching me a few things coming down the wing,” said Kirkland of his game-winning goal. “He deserves a lot of credit on that goal and he was pretty quick to jump on that too.”

With the net emptied the Admirals were able to work a puck out of their zone and see Kamenev win the skate to the red-line before scoring the empty netter to record a hat trick. It was his first North American pro hat trick and his thirteenth goal of the season.

“[Kamenev] has played really well,” said Evason. “He was real good in all areas of the game. Played well defensively. Good through the neutral zone. And he obviously produced offensively but he skated – he skated real well.”

Going for broke the Checkers stayed empty net and extra attacker. Before the final horn sounded the Admirals put one more puck across after a long range backhander by Anthony Richard sailed in for his third goal of the season to make it a 6-3 Admirals lead.

The Admirals will look to extend this run to three straight wins on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM CST when they face-off against the Checkers once again. After that the Admirals will be on a small break before taking to the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday and Saturday night. They will then travel to see these Checkers on the road to end the month of February and begin the March slate.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Wednesday night there were a few roster moves made. Juuse Saros was recalled by the Nashville Predators while Marek Mazanec was reassigned to the Admirals. Rick Pinkston was released of his PTO Contract with the Admirals and is expected to rejoin the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL. Tonight’s line combinations were: Fiala-Ribeiro-Åberg, White-Smith-Gaudreau, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Liambas-Florek-Richard, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches included Derek Army (healthy) and Adam Pardy (compound fracture to left arm).

What were your reactions to tonight’s game? Where did that late game rally come from? Why are the Milwaukee Admirals so flat at the start of games lately?

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.

Posted in Game Recaps | 2 Comments

Checkers: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Charlotte Checkers // flickr)

(Photo Credit: Charlotte Checkers // flickr)

A running theme of late for the Milwaukee Admirals has been that of inconsistency. There have been some high-highs and low-lows that all seem to come in waves of results that never see them get on a positive run. The Admirals 5-1 win on Wednesday night over the San Antonio Rampage ended on a third period where everything finally seemed to snap into place.

All that’s needed now is for this up-and-down pattern to shatter and for the Admirals to sustain a solid run of form while they have plenty of home games en route to the finish line of the 2016-17 season.

The Charlotte Checkers are going to be the ones tasked with bringing that first paragraph into turmoil this weekend. They enter tonight and Sunday afternoon’s contest with a record of 22-23-3-0 (47 points, 0.490 points percentage) which has them in sixth place of the Central Division and thirteenth in the Western Conference standings.

The Checkers are entering tonight on a good run of their own. They have won three straight games and have a record of 9-3-1-0 from their last 13 games overall. The game that started that run came back on 1/10/17 which saw them earn a 5-1 win of their own… against the Milwaukee Admirals… at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

That little teaser aside, the Admirals during that same run traveled to Charlotte’s Bojangles’ Coliseum and earned wins of 3-0 and an overtime win of 4-3. In those games Marek Mazanec, Kevin Fiala, and Anthony Richard all looked phenomenal. As for that last home meeting between the two teams? That was -to me- the worst loss of the season given how lifeless the Admirals actually played. And don’t think that that’s not in the memory bank of the Admirals tonight.

Leading the Checkers in scoring this season are a pair of rookies. Andrew Poturalski has the team lead with 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists). He is followed closely by Lucas Wallmark who has contributed 28 points (16 goals, 12 assists). Wallmark leads the team in goals. The next closest to him in that respect is  Valentin Zykov who has 11 goals this season.

In net the Checkers have the all-time AHL shutout king, Michael Leighton. He has a record of 11-7-3-0 from 22 appearances this season with a 2.17 goals against average, 0.921 save percentage, and 3 shutouts. Against the Admirals this season he has gone 0-1-2-0 with a 3.34 goals against average and 0.884 save percentage. His battery-mate in net this weekend is 21-year old Alex Nedeljkovic.

What are your expectations for this weekend’s games against the Charlotte Checkers? Did the Milwaukee Admirals find an identity for themselves on Wednesday night? With two games against the same opponent this weekend will we be seeing our fair share of rough stuff tonight to set a tone? 

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.

Posted in Scouting | Leave a comment

Fifteen with Justin Florek

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

It’s remarkable how fast the hockey landscape can change. At one point you can be scoring a goal as a member of an Original 6 team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And, in the space of three summers later, you can be searching for the opportunity to earn an AHL contract as a pre-season invitee.

That’s the journey that Marquette, Michigan native Justin Florek has been on. The 26-year old is in the middle of his fifth pro playing season after having been drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the Bruins.

(Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper // USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper // USA TODAY Sports)

He enjoyed a solid four-year career at Northern Michigan University after having been a product of the United States Development Team in the Under-17 and Under-18 program. Florek currently has played more NHL playoff games than he has games in the regular season. Those all came during the 2013-14 season with the Bruins in which he scored a goal and an assist in 4 games during the regular season. He then suited up for 6 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs and scored a goal against his favorite team growing up, the Detroit Red Wings, on 4/20/14 in a game that the Bruins would win 4-1.

Florek has mainly been an AHL player in his pro career. He played for the Providence Bruins and Bridgeport Sound Tigers before turning up with the organization that he watched as a kid for his first pro hockey game – the Milwaukee Admirals. He was an invitee to training camp but quickly impressed the coaching staff and teammates alike to earn himself an AHL contract as a member of the Admirals. He has already seen an incredible leap in performance over his time last season in Bridgeport. And he is one of only just three players on the Admirals roster this season to have played every game. That’s not too shabby for someone that arrived as an invitee.

Thanks to Justin Florek for taking the time after practice to chat. The next edition of Fifteen could use your input. Who should we feature next? Mike Liambas, Trevor Smith, Mike Ribeiro, or someone else? Let me know in the comment section below.

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.

Posted in Chatterbox, Feature | Leave a comment

Chatterbox, Vol. 180

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

It’s been awhile since the Milwaukee Admirals put together a solid sixty-minutes of hockey such as they did last night against the San Antonio Rampage. Sure, the opening minute could have gone a little bit better but the final fifty-nine minutes showed great defensive work and then a third period eruption of offense that came on the back of an extended five-on-three penalty kill.

I want to say the true standout moment for me in last night’s 5-1 win was the Admirals defensemen. Everyone had a great night and the mistakes were extremely minimal on their part. Sunday’s road game against the Rockford IceHogs saw plenty of the same high quality defensive work but not enough of it translating from defense into offense. That changed last night as much of the work down low by defensemen seemed to quickly manifest into clearances and attacks. It all helped see a quick blip on the radar in the opening minute of the game seem like a distant memory.

Where things opened up seemed to be after the Admirals managed to kill a five-on-three power-play for the Rampage. The penalty kill needed to get through forty-seven seconds with Vladislav Kamenev and Andrew O’Brien in the box. And they did so brilliantly. The tone was set quickly on the by Trevor Smith winning the first face-off back to Jimmy Oligny to clear deep. The Rampage effectively amounted nothing from that five-on-three power-play chance. The game was tied 1-1. And then the Admirals burst for four third period goals.

It feels like that offensive eruption had been built up. The last time the Admirals produced that many goals in a game came back on the first game of 2017 when they won 5-2 over the IceHogs. There have been 18 games played between those two games in which the Admirals offense really fired up another gear. When the defense plays as it did, and the offense can work to the net and get the goals like last night, this team can be one of the best teams in the AHL. Their problem just comes down to consistency and sustaining nights such as last night. The biggest challenge awaits for them matching or continuing their work rate Friday and Sunday against the Charlotte Checkers.

I do feel that if that offense is to continue on its path they are in a good place right now. The Predators are finally healthy. The Admirals are, pretty much, healthy. It makes for a packed and deep core of players. Pontus Åberg might have been reassigned to start the Predators break but, with healthy scratches coming in the form of (Colton Sissons, Anthony Bitetto, and Brad Hunt), it is likely he remains down with the Admirals alongside Kevin Fiala and Mike Ribeiro unless the Predators shake someone else loose. It’s a good problem to have too much depth. The Predators this season have simply tapped into it way beyond recent years. Now you hope both the Predators and Admirals can benefit from having roster stability for a change.

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

If last night was to be Juuse Saros last game in net as a member of the Admirals it was a fairly fitting send off. He was locked in, composed, and proceeded to shut the door after an early goal popped past him. He brings such a calming influence to the rest of his teammates when he is in the net. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the presence he brings in goal to the rest of his team is the reason why he’s picked up 42 wins from 53 starts in the AHL. He has been phenomenal from the first day that he has arrived. He is mature beyond his years with a tireless work ethic. Him stopping 25/26 shots on goal last night after yet another up and down travel time between Nashville and Milwaukee screams to all of those attributes.

Saros is expected to return to the Predators following that start last night. Should he already be closing the books on an Admirals career in the AHL he leaves behind an incredible -all be it short- legacy. He played 53 games, had a record of 42-10-0-0 for a winning percentage of 79.2%, 2.13 goals against average, 0.924 save percentage, and 5 shutouts. Saros turns 22-years old in mid-April. He is still very much in the early stages of his pro hockey career and learning to improve. He is who is now because of how hard he competes whether he is on or off the ice. The Nashville Predators have their heir to the throne. And he might be ready faster than they ever could have dreamed.

After last night’s game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Saros and Åberg. I then waited a good while for the chance to catch up with our ol’ pal Félix Girard who did get to have a very good post-game chat with his old teammates. He was kind enough to then stop by and give a quick interview before joining back up with his Rampage squad. Here were last night’s post-game interviews.

Comments on the comments? What did you think ended up seeing the Milwaukee Admirals offense take off the way that it did in last night’s third period? Can the Admirals, with a healthy and padded roster as it is now, sustain a winning run off of last night’s result?

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.

Posted in Chatterbox | Leave a comment

Admirals Score Five Unanswered; Defeat Rampage 5-1

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-1 against the San Antonio Rampage at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Wednesday night.

It may have gotten off on the worst possible start when the returning Félix Girard was able to score from his opening shift in the first minute of the contest. From then on, the Admirals would end up scoring five unanswered goals which largely came in an explosive third period following a successful extended five-on-three penalty kill.

“That was a huge kill,” commented Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We didn’t give them anything on that kill. We shut them down. It gave us a big lift.”

Félix Girard won tonight’s opening face-off against his ol’ teammate Vladislav Kamenev and quickly put on an opening shift clinic with his new team. When Troy Bourke came over the bench he found himself on the puck immediately and was able setup Girard for a one-timer in the low left wing circle. Girard’s shot flew past Juuse Saros for his sixth goal of the season and it came only fifty-seven seconds into the game.

“Sometimes you play against friends and stuff out there but it was the first time for me that I played against twenty of my old friends,” said Girard of his return to Milwaukee as an opponent. “Every time I got into a battle or facing a guy it was my old teammate. So, it was a pretty fun experience.”

The current French Fry contingent in Milwaukee did get an answer five minutes into the first period. Matt White made a slick backhanded chip pass that allowed Frédérick Gaudreau to race across from left to slot and work a shot through Spencer Martin for his eleventh goal of the season to knot things up at 1-1.

There wouldn’t be another tally until the third period when Kevin Fiala was hooked during a breakaway which forced a penalty shot to be called. Fiala swooped around down the slot before finally digging in and releasing a snap shot past the stick side of Martin to record his sixth goal of the season.

The Admirals scored fifty-one seconds later to give themselves a nice two goal cushion. After some battling along the endboards a puck squirted over Kamenev who was able to saucer pass across the lone man defending in front of Martin and tag a wide open Adam Payerl for a tap in and his eleventh goal of the season.

Following a high sticking minor against Duncan Siemens the Admirals made use of their second chance on the power-play with a thrilling series of passes. The Admirals top unit continually controlled the attacking zone and eventually broke down to a sweet pass by Pontus Åberg from the left wing to Mike Ribeiro on the back post to score his first AHL goal since the 2001-02 season as a member of the Québec Citadelles.

It might not have been needed but the Admirals added one last tally with thirty-nine seconds remaining in regulation to make it five unanswered goals. Gaudreau was on the puck down the right wing on what was more so a two-on-two across the wings. He was able to zip a pass backdoor for Trevor Murphy who dinked enough of it over to record his eleventh goal of the season and make it a 5-1 contest.

The Admirals would seal it on that tally. It goes down as just another win for Saros who on this season has won thirteen games from fifteen starts as a member of the Admirals. He may have gave up the early goal to Girard but it was the only goal he allowed from twenty-six shots faced.

“Yeah, but if someone has to score on our team I’m happy to see him even though I don’t want to let in goals,” smiled Saros. “Good for him.”

Next on tap for the Admirals will be the Charlotte Checkers for two games this weekend. Friday night at 7:00 PM CST in which the Admirals will be wearing Slap Shot themes uniforms and then on Sunday at 3:00 PM CST which is Salute to Wrestling Night.

“We talked about it before to play especially better at home,” said Pontus Åberg. “This is our building and we need to step up and make the other teams not want to come here and play. That’s going to be our goal for the next couple of games here.”

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Sunday night they received Juuse Saros and Pontus Åberg from the Nashville Predators and saw Marek Mazanec get recalled. The Predators are currently on their mandated “bye week” for the NHL and it is expected that Saros and Mazanec will be rotating the moment that the Predators can resume operation. Tonight’s line combinations were: Fiala-Ribeiro-Åberg, White-Smith-Gaudreau, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Liambas-Florek-Richard, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Derek Army (healthy), Adam Pardy (upper-body), and Rick Pinkston (healthy).

What is your reaction to tonight’s game? Was this the sort of night -and third period- that the Milwaukee Admirals needed to finally breakout of their funk?

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.

Posted in Game Recaps | 4 Comments

Rampage: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Darren Abate // San Antonio Rampage)

(Photo Credit: Darren Abate // San Antonio Rampage)

It’s been an up-and-down kind of time for the Milwaukee Admirals. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic for tonight’s contest though because not only does the Nashville Predators break mean affording the services of Juuse Saros and Pontus Åberg but the match-up itself has gone really well this season.

The Admirals have had some very seriously tight games against the San Antonio Rampage this season, including back-to-back 2-1 scorelines to start the season, but they have won all three games played so far. They’ve all been one-goal contests but the Admirals have kept their heads above water. The last go round was here in Milwaukee and ended as a 5-4 win. The Admirals lost a three-goal lead only to have Jimmy Oligny score a game-winning tally 1:19 of ice-time after the Rampage had tied it.

So, while the games have been extremely tight, the best of the Admirals character seems to be brought out against the Rampage. And that character will be given a gut check tonight when Félix Girard makes his return to Milwaukee for the first time since being traded away in January.

Girard was very much a heart and soul type of person and player for the Admirals. His on and off-ice work were always tireless. His return will be an emotional one for Admirals plays and Girard himself. But it might be a return that helps the Admirals rise to the challenge that stands in their way now: Girard the opponent.

In his career as a member of the Admirals Girard played 172 games and produced 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists) and was the top penalty killer and face-off man from pretty much the day he arrived from Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL. He had already matched his points total that he had with the Admirals in 35 games work this season in just 8 games as part of the Rampage. Since joining San Antonio he has produced 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in 13 games and taken a more higher ranking spot atop their forward group.

Nostalgia all aside, the Rampage are a team sitting in a lowly spot among the AHL standings. They have a record of 21-24-4-1 (47 points, 0.470 points percentage) which has them last in the Pacific Division and only ahead of the Manitoba Moose (0.458) and Rockford IceHogs (0.441) for the worst record in the Western Conference.

That said. The Admirals just earned a single point from a pair of games against the IceHogs this past weekend. It’s high time they start capitalizing off of these lower tier opponents as they should be doing.

The leading scorer at the moment for the Rampage is Rocco Grimaldi who has produced 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) in 49 games this season. He is followed closely by rookie A.J. Greer who has 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in 47 games.

In net the Rampage feature Spencer Martin and Kent Simpson. They will be without former Admiral goaltender Jeremy Smith who last night made his NHL debut as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

Martin has played the most games in net for the Rampage this season: 15-12-2-0 from 30 appearances with a 2.85 goals against average, 0.908 save percentage, and a lone shutout. He has failed to earn a win from his last 6 appearances in net and has a 4.59 goals against average and 0.811 save percentage in that winless skid.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Will the Milwaukee Admirals fall flat as they go up against their old friend Félix Girard? How big of a boost will it be for the Admirals to have both Pontus Åberg and Juuse Saros in tonight’s game?

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.

Posted in Scouting | Leave a comment

Chatterbox, Vol. 179

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Could Wednesday night’s game be the last for Juuse Saros in Milwaukee? There is a good chance that might be the case. I’d recommend being there for the occasion. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody. This morning I made the trip to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena to catch the Milwaukee Admirals practice ahead of tomorrow night’s game against the San Antonio Rampage. If I had to declare a theme or motto for what I saw in practice today it would be: pass, pass, pass some more, and pass again.

It was a very detail oriented passing day. There were plenty of looks in regards to d-to-d passes, passes that worked from the defensive zone up ice, and some passing work around neutral ice in transition from defense to attack. You want to know what the majority of Lay’s Potato Chips bags are filled with? Admirals passing drills. It’s just not on the nutrition facts label.

Fiala-Ribeiro-Åberg
White-Smith-Gaudreau
Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl
Liambas-Florek (Army)-Richard

Oligny-Carrier
Murphy-Granberg
O’Brien-Dougherty
(Pinkston)

Saros
Gunnarsson

Those were the lines that rolled out during practice. It actually isn’t too clear if Justin Florek or Derek Army take that center role on the fourth line but my gut instinct would say Florek gets the nod. Rick Pinkston still remains on the outside looking in for the Admirals defense but he was one of only two skaters to advance from the first round of today’s team shootout drill. Anthony Richard was the second skater and he’d secure his second attempt as well to get the shootout win this morning.

Once practice came to a close I caught up with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I then had the chance to speak with Juuse Saros, Frédérick Gaudreau, and Pontus Åberg. These were today’s comments from a busy busy busy UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena that almost saw me get run over a few times by karts trafficking gear around the building.

Comments from their comments? What do you think the Milwaukee Admirals will be like tomorrow night having Félix Girard on the other side of the ice? How big of a boost will it be having Juuse Saros and Pontus Åberg back? Could tomorrow night be the last time that Saros suits up as a member of the 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.

Posted in Chatterbox | Leave a comment