Wolves: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)
Wednesday morning will be Pardy Time! … Well, I laughed. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Milwaukee Admirals will be playing their second ever school day game on Wednesday with puck drop coming in at around 10:30 AM CST. Typically I enjoy publishing your pre-game scout at around 7 AM CST. Considering how little time that actually is to get your locked in I feel compelled to publish this tonight so you’re ready right out of bed and en route to the rink in the morning.

Last season’s inaugural event was a really big success I felt. And by that I’m not even simply talking about the Admirals 6-3 win on the day. The official attendance at that game was 12,972. Of that total there were 11,047 students on-hand. The game was incredibly loud. Kids who may not yet have experienced a hockey game either in-person or ever before were introduced to the game. It was a real blast to experience. Now take that same level of students and the noise they’ll be making and place it in a smaller venue with the roof lowered? Hot diggity! All that is needed next is a similar nasty and snarling level of game on the ice that last season provided. …this is when the Amtrak rolls up to station and the Chicago Wolves exit to their usual music.

The Wolves enter this game with a record of 5-4-0-1 (11 points, 0.550 points percentage). They have played the Admirals twice so far this season and have lost both games by a narrow margin. They faced-off against the Admirals last Friday for their first trip into the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. In that contest they lost 3-2 in a shootout after the Admirals climbed back from a 2-0 Wolves lead.

After the Wolves lost to the Admirals they then had the pleasure of a lengthy bus ride over to face the Grand Rapids Griffins the next night. The Wolves vented a bit of frustration from the night before and beat the Griffins 4-2. The man on fire that night was Ivan Barbashyov who scored twice to elevate his season total to 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) from 10 games.

Barbashyov is the top scoring forward on the Wolves roster but not the team’s leading scorer. That title current goes to defenseman Brad Hunt who has scored 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 10 games. Out of all the players on the ice for the Wolves in the Amtrak Rivalry game on Saturday I felt that Hunt was easily their best player. He was everywhere. He nearly reminded me of the often roaming from the blueline T.J. Brennan. What’s funny to me is that I never recall Hunt being as active in movement as he was when a member of the Edmonton Oilers organization. He produced amazing offensive numbers with the Oklahoma City Barons and Bakersfield Condors: 142 points (43 goals, 99 assists) in 185 games. He just seems even more polished this season than memory serves. It’s just hard to not notice “#39 Hunt” when he is on the ice.

The goaltender of choice for the Wolves in the first two games against the Admirals this season has been Pheonix Copley. It’s slightly weird that he has only made 3 starts, has a record of 1-1-0-1 on the season, and his single win wasn’t his best outing. It’s actually his starts against the Admirals that have been his best work so far. In the pair of Amtrak Rivalry games Copley has a 1.95 goals against average and 0.934 save percentage. While I can just as easily see Jordan Binnington get tabbed for the 10:30 AM start. I would expect Copley’s hot hand against the Admirals to get a run until it cools.

What might be the biggest storyline for this game doesn’t so much as come from the Wolves as it does the Admirals. Juuse Saros and Pontus Åberg were recalled. Marek Mazanec and Kevin Fiala were reassigned and take their place. It’s not the most drastic of changes by any means but it is a shakeup to an Admirals team that has a three-game winning streak at the moment. How does Mazanec respond in net after little action and poor results with the Nashville Predators? How does Fiala look in his reintroduction to the AHL and will he flip off another team’s bench during an AM Admirals game? So many variables! Yet, the changes aren’t huge. They just add a fresh layer of mystery as to what happens in a game that starts while most of us aren’t all that awake yet – much less playing a hockey game.

~UPDATE~

The Nashville Predators have officially reassigned Harry Zolnierczyk to the Milwaukee Admirals. Zolnierczyk was brought up to help the Predators during their food poisoning incident but only played the single game in his time up with the team. He had played the opening three games of the season for the Admirals prior.

~Pre-Game Skate Tunes~

I meant to place this in -yesterday’s- fan requested edition of Chatterbox but flat out forgot. Today’s edition of Chatterbox was just too busy with the roster move news. So, for fun, here is a fan requested item. What songs play during the Admirals pre-game skate?

Often I read or hear people saying that the tunes are a bit “out there” or rave party inspired but the reality is that this is what the players are asking for to get hyped up prior to puck drop. Is this the accurate playlist order? Nope. It’s just the way I plopped them all down via the Admirals DJ’s list. If you hit shuffle it may run just as nicely.

Thoughts on the third meeting between the Admirals and Wolves? How will Mazanec and Fiala perform in their first AHL game of the 2016-17 season? Will you be attending the AM game?

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