In the last Chatterbox I stressed the importance to ignore what happened against the Rockford IceHogs in Friday night’s loss and embrace the magnitude of beating the Manitoba Moose for the first time on home ice this season. If the Admirals were to lose to the Moose? The rest of the month doesn’t set up well confidence wise barring performances that would see this depleted team rise to the occasion. Little did I know so many instances of rising to the occasion would happen last night. But time after time, one goal after another, the Admirals were able to close out a roller coaster of a game against the Moose by winning 7-5.
I feel if I were to sit back and write about all the defensive errors the Admirals had last night we’d all be here together for too long. The Admirals defense was a mess. I get that. You get that. If you don’t get that, look at the final score again, and now you’re on-board with the rest of us. It wasn’t Admirals hockey. But here is the most important thing that last night’s game provided. The puzzle pieces stuck together.
When the Admirals lost Friday night they didn’t play like a team. They were sloppy and let wave upon wave of the IceHogs either forcing or capitalizing off of errors get the better of them. Everyone in the Admirals locker room knew what they did wrong. And they responded strongly last night.
Yes, the defense was a disaster area but think about the resolve of the Admirals to ride through all the momentum swings last night’s game had. From the moment the Admirals broke the 2-2 deadlock the Moose equalized but never scored a go-ahead goal. It would trend “Admirals score, Moose score” until the 5-5 deadlock was broken when Pontus Åberg scored the game-winner with 32.8 seconds remaining in regulation and then Zac Larraza scored the empty netter off the following faceoff.
It’s probably unfair to keep bringing up last season again and again -but- allow me to do so once more. Last season the Admirals were a very streaky team. That applied to not just their overall record and how the wins and losses stacked up but you could see it within an individual game from a period to period basis. Certain games would overwhelm them and, before you knew it, they lost the plot all together. That’s not translated into this season at all. Perhaps that’s on the coaching staff and the players who went through the heat of last season’s miseries but the Admirals ability to go with the flow of a given game, shrug off momentum changes, and battle through low points in games has been a night and day difference from last season to this season.
On this exact day one-year ago the Admirals record was 14-10-0-3 (31 points, 0.574 points percentage). This season their record is 18-9-1-0 (37 points, 0.661). When you consider the amount of key players and offensive contributors that started the season with the Admirals who are no longer around – it’s nothing short of incredible to see what a difference a year makes.
After the game, I spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Max Görtz, Juuse Saros, Kristian Näkyvä, and Frédérick Gaudreau. Here is what they had to say following the thrill ride of a game that was last night’s win.
Comments on the comments? What do the Admirals need to improve from last night’s game, and the one before it, to take down the IceHogs in Rockford on Monday night?