This season started with a bang for the Milwaukee Admirals. They sat atop the Midwest Division ahead of the Rockford IceHogs before plummeting as far as fourth during their rough patch in December. Well, happy Saturday morning everybody, the Admirals are back in first place with the tie-break putting the team ahead of the IceHogs.
Tonight, tomorrow, and even Wednesday night are all key games for the Admirals as a way to not only break that tie with the IceHogs but start building a gap in the standings. Rockford will be stationary after tonight’s clash in their own barn and won’t play again until visiting Milwaukee next Friday. The time is now to strike and head-to-head results such as last night are huge. Build now. Take the pressure off when the playoff crunch really takes hold.
~About Last Night~
Before going into the audio portion let’s take a look into last night’s game to set the stage for tonight.
Michael Leighton allowed three goals to the Admirals last night. It was the most goals that he had allowed since Dec. 16th against the Iowa Wild when he allowed four goals. Ever since was clicking at a pace of two goals allowed or less.
While the Admirals power-play may have only gone one-of-six from the game… they still generated six power-plays in the first place. Rockford took plenty of poor penalties that, even though their penalty kill bailed them out, really stunted their ability to get their game rolling.
As the frustration started to boil over the IceHogs began engaging post-whistle scrums late in the game – including after the final horn. Whether or not that means haymakers will be thrown early tonight is beyond me. Last night was the second successive game played between the Admirals and IceHogs to not have any fighting majors. Perhaps this feud has turned a new leaf? … That was written with sarcastic intent, believe me.
Speaking of chippy things that went on last night. My gut tells me that the AHL will probably be reviewing Garret Ross for his boarding incident. You always know that a hit is bad when the player that delivered it even displays instant grief that he did it. What Ross did was dangerous and could have easily been more than a two-minute minor for boarding. He clubbed Viktor Stålberg from behind and the Swede’s jaw nearly pelted off of the dasher boards in front of the Admirals bench. Should Ross survive with only the minor penalty he should consider himself lucky that Stalberg missed that dasher and therefore wasn’t injured on the play. If he did, he probably would have been tossed right then and there and be joining Brandon Mashinter on the IceHogs suspension list.
The Zach Budish effect continued last night. Sure, the Admirals lost the previous game he was involved in but it was a shootout loss. He still have earned a point in every game he has factored into this season and last night might have been his best all-around game that I’ve watched him play. He was moving really quick, took charge offensively, scored a goal, almost scored a shorthanded goal off of an Austin Watson lead saucer pass, and was among three other players who registered a game-high four shots on goal. #BelieveInBudish
After the game I had the pleasure to speak with an upbeat Admirals locker room. Inside the Chatterbox this time: Dean Evason, Kevin Fiala, Marek Mazanec, and Joe Piskula. Here is what they had to say following the win at home against the IceHogs.
Dean Evason breaks down the game against Rockford:
Evason on Fiala’s night and current form:
Evason dissects the goal allowed:
Evason on Mazanec’s effort in net:
Evason on Rockford’s post-whistle chippiness:
Evason provides an injury update:
Kevin Fiala on feeling pressure to get his first goal:
Fiala talks about the breakaway goal:
Marek Mazanec talks up the Admirals recent success:
Mazanec on his empty net goal bid:
Mazanec on the second period dog pile he was in:
Mazanec talks about playing in net with the Badger Band playing behind him:
Joe Piskula’s thoughts on the game:
Piskula on what changed after the opening period:
Piskula discusses Maz’s empty net goal attempt:
Piskula on what he’s seen out of Fiala so far:
Piskula and I talk about the Badger Band:
Piskula’s expectations for the follow up in Rockford:
Comments on the comments? How do you think tonight’s game in Rockford will play out? Would you stick with Mazanec in net?