Chatterbox, Vol. 138

(Photo Credit: Daniel Lavender)

The battle for the back-up role for the Milwaukee Admirals is a close one. Jonas Gunnarsson made a rather nice case for himself in today’s scrimmage. (Photo Credit: Daniel Lavender)

Day 3 of Milwaukee Admirals Training Camp has concluded and today featured scrimmage action ahead of tomorrow night’s exhibition game against the Rockford IceHogs. As expected, the previous day’s formation of split practice trickled into the lines that squared off today.

~Team White~

Tyl Spink-Kirkland-Ryan
Payerl-Tys Spink-Zolnierczyk



~Team Black~


Rissling-Knodel (Doherty)

Saros (Gunnarsson)

With the game tomorrow night at the MSOE Kern Center, and a road exhibition game against the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night, you’d expect a hodgepodge of the lines above to work into the weekend’s events.

The way today’s scrimmage broke down was a first period of five-on-five, second period of four-on-four, and a third period of three-on-three. All periods were ten-minutes in length and the final score was 4-3 in favor of Team Black. Both Anthony Richard and Harry Zolnierczyk score twice for their respective squads in the game. The goalies actually managed to flip around a fair bit to keep things ever rotating and challenging.

There are a few invitees involved in this camp. I have to say it is getting hard for me to imagine Eric Robinson not earning a contract after doing very well at the Nashville Predators Pre-Season Rookie Tournament held in Florida and now picking up another gear here in Milwaukee. These last two days of Training Camp he has actually lined up at center and done extremely well considering he’s a natural winger. The first goal scored in today’s scrimmage was a direct result of a defensive read by Robinson to negate a defensive breakout at the right wing blueline and quickly set up Richard on the back post for a goal. He’s locked in. And its a level of play that forces you to notice because it is happening in all three zones of the ice. In a lot of ways he’s becoming last year’s Adam Payerl – who, for the record, has also looked solid so far.

Richard’s game today will be highlighted by his two goals but what made them happen were a combination of speed and positioning. The first goal I described how Robinson set it up but Richard was quick enough to bolt off the defensive read by Robinson and put himself in a contributing spot for his center to dish it to him. Richard has wheels. And that’s the eye-popping thing of note from Training Camp so far that I have on him. He looked energetic last year when he debuted in the playoffs against the Grand Rapids Griffins and looked so all while banged up with a lower-body injury. He’s healthy now and can really skate with pace and agility. His second goal on the other hand – was less about speed and more about intelligent positional play. He stationed himself towards the right wing side of the net and a puck spilled over for him to smack into the roof of goal. It’s more of that area of the game you’ll hope he shows off with the speed when it comes to this season.

The back-up goaltending battle is still close. I’d have to say though that today’s scrimmage gave a good look at Jonas Gunnarsson and why he could potentially be tabbed over Mark Visentin. Both seemed to be tested with shots far more than Juuse Saros and, of the two, Gunnarsson’s ability to battle for pucks was an encouraging sight. He didn’t seem rattled all that much with lateral action that the offenses would throw at him and, around his crease, he had a pretty commanding presence. He didn’t allow many rebounds and when he did the placement of the rebounds weren’t being shoved off in an area that would cause him trouble. It was a positive effort for Gunnarsson in a game environment. Still, this back-up race is probably going to go down to the wire.

After the scrimmage wrapped up I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I also spoke with defenseman Trevor Murphy as well as the aforementioned goaltender Gunnarsson. Here is what they had to say this afternoon at the MSOE Kern Center.

Final thoughts ahead of tomorrow’s exhibition game against the Rockford IceHogs?

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