This has been an exciting week in Admirals hockey. Simon Moser to the Olympics. Colton Sissons named to the AHL All Star Classic. And, as of this morning, the recently named World Juniors MVP Filip Forsberg will be joining the team this weekend.
My plan was to write a feature story on Mike Liambas for today. Unfortunately, due to a Pink concert rocking the Bradley Center, I couldn’t get in for interviews until today – and even then our assistant coach Stan Drulia had a matter to attend to after practice. Long story short: expect that feature story to turn up on Monday. As always, I had lots of fun chatting with our resident enforcer and all-around good guy Mike. Should be a fun write up.
That not getting posted today does give way to this edition of the Blender, though. I did also interview the likes of Colton “The All Star” Sissons, Anthony Bitetto, and Scott Valentine today. So here is a little of what they had to say regarding the week’s news and the road ahead.
Anthony Bitetto talks about the eventful news week (with some Team Finland trolling courtesy of a very happy Joonas Rask):
Scott Valentine chimes in on the week’s events:
Valentine sheds light on this weekend’s games against Chicago and Lake Erie:
Colton Sissons on being named to the AHL All Star Classic:
Sissons on his all-around game:
Mike Liambas talks about his All Star roommate:
Liambas describes the team’s quality depth and NHL readiness:
Scouting the Enemies
This weekend we get a double-dose of pure enemy! The Amtrak Rivalry tomorrow night with the Chicago Wolves. The very next day we get Part III of the chippy affair that has been Milwaukee against Lake Erie.
The Wolves enter Saturday’s game a spot ahead of the Ads in the Midwest division – but only due to playing an extra two games (the Ads have a better winning percentage). They are 19-13-1-2 (41 points in 35 games) and are a stellar 7-2-1-0 in their previous ten games – including two-straight shootout victories.
It’s been a tough fixture for the Ads this season against their rivals. They’ve met up four times this season and three of them have gone into overtime or further. The Wolves have taken a point from all games against the Ads this season, 3-0-0-1, which includes two OT victories.
The man doing the most damage in this series has been Mark Mancari with 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist). Also there to make things difficult is an AHL All Star in net by the name of Jake Allen. In this series Allen has started three games in net, won two, and lost in a shootout: 2.25 GAA and 0.921 SV% against the Admirals this season.
Lake Erie, who did everything but win a goalie fight last weekend, will make the trip to Milwaukee in hopes of another victorious effort over the Ads. They have won six-straight games against the Admirals and you have to go back to March 16, 2012 to the last time the Monsters tasted defeat to the Ads: 5-4 (OT). Not sure what it is, but Lake Erie just so happens to have the Ads number – something that came to a boiling point in the two games last weekend when they put up four fights and 152 combined penalty minutes.
Will we get more of the same? I highly doubt it, but I would anticipate the same physical atmosphere considering both play such a similar playing style. If one team out-works another… who knows? Fortunately, the Monsters will be playing the Ads on the back end of a three-in-three when they meet. Tonight and tomorrow Lake Erie are playing in Rockford against the IceHogs. That’s another very physical hockey team. My hope if that the Monsters come into the Bradley Center Sunday with their feet dragging that little bit more courtesy of a division rival of our’s. Grind them down, IceHogs. Grind them down.
After some banter about Finland winning World Juniors, I asked Joonas Rask about his injury status and if we can expect to see him back for this weekend’s games. He said his right shoulder is still a little bit sore but, and I quote, “I am hockey player so.” Depending on the roster shake out with the addition of Filip Forsberg this weekend – we could see Rask return to the ice. Though, I wonder if they’ll rest him this weekend just to be certain his shoulder is 100%.
It was announced this afternoon that Joshua Shalla has been reassigned to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. With how big Admirals camp is right now it doesn’t come as a surprise to see a move down to Cincinnati… who, by the way, have been on an absolute tear: 8-1-1-0 in their last ten games and are currently the second best team in the ECHL. Shalla can only add skill to that team and sharpen up with more playing minutes.
What are your hopes for this weekend? Can the Ads solve the Wolves and Monsters to grab all the points on home ice?