Before leaping ahead to the match-up we have tonight against the Lake Erie Monsters I feel like some recapping is in order from the 3-2 (OT) win in Chicago last night.
With the Texas Stars losing 5-3 to the Oklahoma City Barons last night – the Milwaukee Admirals became the last remaining unbeaten AHL team. This start, five wins in five games, ties the franchise record for the best start to a season (1988-89). The four-consecutive road wins to start a season is a new record for the Admirals. And, for good measure, they also became the first team in the AHL this season to reach double digit points.
The only other team with more goals than the Admirals this season are the Rochester Americans – who have 21 goals to the Admirals 20 goals. That same team is also on equal playing field with the Admirals for the best goal differential in the league with +10.
Brendan Leipsic, who recorded another primary assist last night on Austin Watson‘s goal, now leads in rookie scoring with 7 points – all of which are assists – a category in which he leads the entire league in. Viktor Arvidsson and Pontus Åberg are both tied for third place in rookie scoring with 5 points.
Plenty of superlatives to dish out from this start to the season. Positives all over the place. And you almost forget that Marek Mazanec, for the second consecutive season, has started his AHL season off with five straight wins.
~The New Divisional Foe~
With this season’s divisional realignment, the shuffle saw the Iowa Wild go from our division to the West Division and the Lake Erie Monsters step in from the North Division. Since their inception in 2007-08, they have gone 13-7-3-1 against the Milwaukee Admirals.
Previous seasons have only seen the two battling home and away in two-game sets for a total of four games in a season. The most recent edition, the 2013-14 season, saw a combined total of 212 penalty minutes between the two teams in four games. In addition, there were 31 goals scored – 10 goals from the power-play – 2 shorthanded (one by each team) – and a single empty netter.
The Monsters, the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, enter tonight’s game with a 2-3-0-0 record from their opening five games. They are at the bottom of the Midwest Division. They have scored 13 goals and have 18 goals against. Despite getting spanked by the Chicago Wolves last weekend they enter tonight’s game off of a stellar 5-4 road win against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Each and every goal scored in that game by the Monsters was with Petr Mrazek in net. Weirdly, they finished the night 0/5 on the power-play and still scored 5 goals.
According to the Fall Top 20 for Avalanche prospects on Hockey’s Future – the Monsters will boast half of that list on their current roster that will be rolling into Milwaukee from Grand Rapids.
Topping their list of current Monsters is defenseman Duncan Siemens. The 21-year old Alberta native was selected by the Avalanche with the 11th Overall Selection in the 2011 NHL Draft. Last year was his rookie season of professional hockey and it was tattered with injuries. He only played in 46 games for the Monsters, scored 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists), had 45 penalty minutes, and a plus/minus of -1. He is healthy to start this season off, has played in all five games so far, and has an assist with a -4 rating.
Joey Hishon is another name worth spying on tonight. You might remember that he scored a hat trick against the Admirals last season in a 6-5 defeat for the Monsters in Milwaukee. To boot, the main AHL website has given him a feature story worth looking at. He is also a former first round selection of the Avalanche (10th Overall). And, despite a great pre-season camp with Colorado, has no points in three games for the Monsters and is a -5 rating to boot. Look for him to potentially get off the mark tonight.
Expectations for tonight’s game? Will the Admirals set a franchise record for a best ever start to a season? Would you dare rotate Marek Mazanec out of the net in favor of giving Magnus Hellberg his first start of the season tonight?