Ramblings, Vol. 34

(Photo Credit: Jim Diamond)
Ryan Ellis’ beard is majestic. (Photo Credit: Jim Diamond)

The 2015 Rookie Tournament provided a nice appetizer for hockey’s return. Yesterday in Nashville was the pre-season opener. In short, we’ve all survived the dreaded, long, cold, and dark off-season. Hockey is back and it is fast approaching its arrival back here in Milwaukee.

~Pre-Season Double Dip~

The Nashville Predators had a double-header of pre-season games yesterday against the Florida Panthers that saw both teams split squads to handle the action. Here’s a quick run-through how the rosters split and who of the expected Milwaukee Admirals were featured.

Game 1: Anthony Bitetto, Miikka Salomäki, Pontus Åberg, Jamie Devane, Vladislav Kamenev, Trevor Murphy, Jonathan Diaby, Colton Sissons, and Marek Mazanec.

Game 2: Conor Allen, Cody Bass, Max Reinhart, Viktor Arvidsson, Kristian Näkyvä, Garrett Noonan, Max Görtz, Taylor Aronson, Félix Girard, and Juuse Saros.

~Game One~

The first contest ended with the Predators winning 5-2. Filip Forsberg opening the scoring with Kamenev adding one of his own for a 2-0 first period lead. Roman Josi extended the Predators advantage to 3-0 in the second period. Halfway through the frame Mazanec relieved Carter Hutton to split the goaltending duties for the game.

In the third period, disaster, as Salomäki was slapped with a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct after tagging defenseman Josh Brown. Unfortunately this is not the first time something like this has happened with Miikka. So, for those wondering if his shoulder injury that put him out of the end of last season would alter his tenacity or aggressiveness in his return to the ice… the answer is a hard no. I would add here though that having him play a settled down or muffled style ruins what makes a player like Salomäki so fun to watch. Hopefully this incident doesn’t hurt his reputation with his team and beyond but I imagine a talking to about “being smarter” was had between player and coaches.

After that incident cooled the two sides exchanges a back-and-forth of power-play goals. Forsberg added a power-play goal for his second goal of the game. In an unrelated story Martin Erat recently signed with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. The Panthers finally ended the combined shutout bid with power-play goal of their own from Connor Brickley. Nashville would add one last tally in game one when Sissons contributed a power-play goal. And the final bit of scoring would come off the tape of Jussi Jokinen on a power-play to see Mazanec’s day in net have two goals allowed attached to his name. Both were on the power-play so I suppose you can only be so harsh on Maz.

~Game Two~

This game was a little less explosive but that should really be expected when the Finnish National Team’s goaltending duo are representing Nashville. Pekka Rinne made the start and Saros would enter mid-way through the second period. The game spilled to overtime where Nashville was treated to their first glimpse of three-on-three OT hockey. The Panthers would take this one 3-2 in overtime to split the day.

Who opened the scoring in game two you ask? Guess. *pause* If you guessed Aronson you would be correct! Aronson scored with he and fellow Admirals-defenseman Noonan both up on the play. How about that? And then Carrie Underwood‘s hubby scored to make it 2-0. Aleksander Barkovreportedly– made Rinne look very un-Rinne on a breakaway to make things 2-1 at the end of one.

The scoreline remained at a 2-1 margin all the way until the final minutes of the game. With 2:17 remaining Florida was able to beat Saros with a power-play goal from a man who should be very familiar to Admirals fans, Shane Harper (formerly of the Chicago Wolves). The game would be settled with three-on-three overtime and defenseman Mike Matheson would see to it that the Panthers clawed back from a 2-0 hole to get a 3-2 overtime win.


All in all, I like much of what I’ve seen from names that we’ll be seeing in Milwaukee. Seeing Sissons get on the scoresheet, power-play or not, I think is an important confidence builder for him after a slow start last season with his Nashville camp not going the way he’d hoped possibly lingering over him. It’s a good first step and a “remember me” to Nashville. Kamenev getting a goal? Aronson getting a goal? It’s all great stuff as well as seeing how Saros doesn’t seem too ill affected by the speed of the North American game in net.

Plenty to be giddy about at the moment. Add a slice of that Salomäki game misconduct, penalties on Bitetto and Girard, and a poor showing from Kevin Fiala and I think that should give you the level headed feeling you need to have come Admirals season. There’s excitement, yes. Maturity level on the ice and being able to put together complete games and avoid long losing skids? That’s the story to wait and see play out as far as the Admirals go in 2015-16.

~All He Does Is Score Goals~

If you missed this news on the weekend then this should raise your brow. Gary Steffes will not be back with the Admirals for this season. In fact, he won’t even be in the AHL. He re-signed with the Allen Americans of the ECHL last Thursday.

This comes as a slight shock to me considering he scored 52 goals in all competitions last season – ECHL regular season with Allen, late in the AHL season with the Admirals on a loan move, and then the ECHL playoff run with Allen that ended with he and his teammates winning the 2015 Kelly Cup. What more could there possibly be left for him to accomplish in the ECHL after a season like that? Is the market, specifically AHL, that poor that no one was willing to take a chance on him? It kind of leaves me mystified. My only hope for him is that he puts up another blistering scoring season with Allen and an AHL team gives him the shot he’s earned.

~Ramble, Ramble~

Some great news. This should be the last edition of Ramblings for quite awhile. Heck, I finally brained up and removed ‘Summer’ from the title. September isn’t exactly my idea of Summer. Anywho, expect things to really ramp up as we near camp opening up here in Milwaukee soon. I’m hoping to get an idea of when an Admirals group will be setup for practices at the MSOE Kern Center and an actual main camp begins. When that happens I’ll let you folks know.

Remember, practices at the MSOE Kern Center are open to the public. Getting out to a morning skate to greet the team and make some of these new players feel welcome is a fun thing. I highly recommend swinging by for a practice or two or more sometime this season.

Roundtable should be getting into full-stride pretty soon. I’ll get some things gathered for the end of the week. In the meantime my mind is firmly set on attending the first full practice that the Admirals will have downtown and the eventual interview session afterwards. Plenty of new faces to see and get to know this season. It’s exciting times. All that’s really left is for the puck to drop.

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