Chatterbox, Vol. 148

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The WHL Connection was felt last night as the roommates Justin Kirkland and Jack Dougherty were able to score some firsts together. Kirkland’s first career pro point was a secondary assist on Dougherty’s first career pro goal. The two played against each other last season as members of the Kelowna Rockets and Portland Winterhawks in juniors. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

In Chatterbox prior to yesterday’s game I probably overused the word “character” to describe how the Milwaukee Admirals have been achieving success despite less than desirable play to open up the season. I feel as if I could go that route once again except the play last night was pretty darn good from the Admirals. The second period of last night’s 5-3 win was pretty dominant from the Iowa Wild up until a Pontus Åberg goal put the Admirals back into a lead that they’d never relinquish.

Other than the second period, where the Admirals were outshot 15-8 and had the ice tilted against them, the game was really solid. I can’t express enough how impressed I was watching the Admirals play so defensively in the third period, practically playing keep away, and how little that same Wild team that posted 15 shots in the period prior managed to take advantage of a defensively minded Admirals group. The Wild only registered 5 shots on goal in the third period. And that’s with an Admirals team that was comfortable enough cycling the puck around in their attacking zone not really doing much of anything else. They worked that cycle into a penalty and, BOOM, they get a power-play goal. How about that? The Admirals power-play, which was trending near 8% prior to the weekend, has gone 50% this weekend at a 4/8 clip between Friday and Saturday.

Patience might really be the word needed for the Admirals start to the season. Just as I started to wonder if some of the younger prospects within the Admirals ranks could start gripping the sticks a little tighter awaiting their offensive abilities to shine – they do. Max Görtz did so well a season ago but didn’t score a goal until Friday. Alex Carrier, Jack Dougherty, Justin Kirkland, and Anthony Richard are all first year pros that came with great junior playing careers prior to this season. Most of names, sorry Richard but your time will come, scored their first goals or points last night. The ability and talent is there. It just takes games such as, say, last weekend in Rockford to ignite a real burst within the group. This five game homestand is the longest the Admirals have all season and that too has an impact on the team being able to settle in, learn, and grow. It simply takes time.

The Admirals ended last season with their first 100 point season since the 80-game regular season era of the AHL in 2010-11. This season the Admirals have claimed 13 points in their first 9 games of the season. It took last year’s group 11 games to accomplish that. So, despite the slower offensive start, this year’s group is grinding out the wins and building for more. That’s an exciting prospect to think about knowing we’ve really not seen all players yet at their maximum. It’ll come. And, for now, this is pretty good.

~The Ol’ Arena~

In -settling into the new venue land- I do want to touch on my experience from last night. I didn’t quite get the opportunity to roam much the first two home games but I made a point last night to do a lap or two around the concourse to see what it is like in game ops mode. I read some comments that said it was narrower and congested. I knew the first part of that was true, it is a smaller concourse than the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but the lone area where a small bite point was felt in the congestion area was around the new Pro Shop and a concession area right outside of it.. and even then it was easy enough to zip through. The new Pro Shop looks fantastic and there are a ton of different Admirals items that I don’t recall seeing across the street. The concessions seemed full in the times I jogged about and I did give a go at “The Coop” and enjoyed their cheese curds. I’d honestly love to hear more feedback from people as to what they do think of the concessions, better – the same – or lesser than the Bradley Center? It’s busy enough so I’m hopeful there is a good reason for that beyond people are just hungry.

My parking experience isn’t quite the same as fans, being media, but even on my end it is a slow building process to get used to. Lots and lots of “new” being experienced or re-learning areas that I’ve not parked or driven around in a bit to get where I need to be. It’s a change but it’ll get way better the more used to it I get. I’d hope the same can be said on the fan side of things, as well. There’s plenty of parking options. The cheaper option just isn’t the old Bradley Center parking structure is all. Some walking is to be expected -but- some walking can save some money as well. It’s all a process. From the fan end to those folks working the microphones that cut out the last two nights… it will all be a challenge at first. But, hey, we learn and improve, right? The team on the ice adapts to situations on a near shift to shift basis. I’m looking to settle into the new barn in much the same way.

~Chatterbox~

After last night’s game I spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I also caught up with the defensemen that claimed their first career pro goals last night, Carrier and Dougherty. This is what everyone had to say following last night’s 5-3 win over the Iowa Wild.

Thoughts from last night? Is this year’s Milwaukee Admirals group better suited to use their skill defensively rather than be a flashy offensive unit? How impressed are you with first year pro defensemen Alex Carrier and Jack Dougherty?

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