After the Admirals fell 3-2 against the Iowa Wild did you expect the Milwaukee Admirals to do what they did this weekend? The Rockford IceHogs had only lost twice in regulation from thirteen games played prior to the weekend set with the Admirals. Then came the eight-game win streak snapper: 4-1 Admirals in Rockford. And tonight, coming back from a goal down at home, winning 2-1.
The IceHogs came into the weekend with a franchise best eight-game winning streak. After these two games they now have lost eight-straight games to the Milwaukee Admirals dating back to last season. Not only were these fantastic back-to-back wins for the Admirals. They didn’t allow the IceHogs to get to overtime and take points from them. It’s so early in this season that games like this are hard to gauge in importance in the grand scheme of the season… -but- it will be these two games that can do a world of confidence for the Ads now, later on in the season series, and these points gained can potentially be a difference at season’s end in a Midwest Division where every single point matters.
When you look at the Admirals and IceHogs I think there is a mirror reflection between the two teams. They play with pace. They are very sound on defense: jamming up passing and shooting lanes to make life easier on their big and talented netminders. It was such a joy watching these two teams lock up.
I’ve started to run out of superlatives to toss over to Magnus Hellberg‘s start to this season. What I notice the most that he is doing such a good job of is limiting rebound opportunities. It’s been rare for Hellberg to drop pucks. If it’s in smothering range – he’s got it. There haven’t been second or third chance opportunities for teams to catch him in a scramble – which makes his size a detriment rather than an advantage. He’s played calm. Let the game unfold before him rather than try to be aggressive in net. The result is five-wins in five-starts with an AHL best in goals against average (0.78) and save percentage (0.969).
After the game my post-game interviewing was rather limited. It was picture night so all players came out on the ice to interact with the fans. Rather than detract from that experience, I decided to stick with head coach Dean Evason and went to the visitors side of the locker room to chat with former-Admiral goaltender Scott Darling (who was called up to the NHL right after I talked with him). Here is what both had to say following Saturday night’s game.
Dean Evason talks about Hellberg matching the red hot IceHogs:
Evason on the failed four-minute power-play for the Ads:
Evason speaks about Colton Sissons hit and progression of late:
Evason on the maturation of Taylor Aronson this season:
Evason on the importance of picking up wins against divisional opponents:
Scott Darling reflects on his time in Milwaukee:
Darling talks about his fairy tale NHL debut:
Darling on the changes from last year’s Admirals to this year’s squad:
Darling on if he caught up with any of his ex-teammates this weekend:
Comments from the comments? How do you think the Admirals would have performed this weekend with Marek Mazanec in net for both games? What plays or players stood out to you this weekend?