The month of January was not a pretty one for the Milwaukee Admirals. The team put together a 6-7-0-0 record. It was the first time since the opening month of the 2015-16 season that the Admirals had a record that featured more regulation losses than wins in a month of play. The Admirals went 2-4-1-0 in October 2015. That was a team stumbling out of the starting blocks but they found their feet and never seemed to stop running. This year’s Admirals have had wild swings of change and travel. It all seemed to finally bend the team this month past its breaking point.
It is always far easier to decide Admiral of the Month when there were strings of wins or key performers showing up night in and night out. You almost can’t say that for the Admirals due to how erratic things were in January. I must say, out of all that took place and all the ups and downs, there was a constant. And that constant was in net.
Marek Mazanec started in all but a single game for the Admirals in January. He held a record of 6-6-0-0 while producing a 0.919 save percentage, 2.24 goals against average, and earning 3 shutouts. He also managed to deliver 2 assists at the start of the month which both came on the Admirals power-play. He was calm and composed in and around his net. And he has been making big strides forward with goaltending coach Dave Rook ever since rejoining the Admirals from the Nashville Predators full-time in the middle of December.
It hit home that Mazanec will be the “go-to” option for the Admirals for the rest of the season when following his last shutout he said in an on ice interview following his third shutout of the season that he’ll be spending the AHL All-Star break emptying his apartment in Nashville. It sounds very sad and everything but you’d never know it really hurt Mazanec by the way he came to the Admirals with a big smile and has been working like mad in the off chance the Predators might need his services.
Mazanec has made quantum leaps over the goaltender that was being jostled around back and forth in the first two months and a half of the season. Now that he has the opportunity to settle down, focus, and log consistent time in the net you’re seeing his play benefit and confidence soar. There were bad games for the Admirals this month that dented Mazanec’s numbers. It wasn’t down to him anywhere near as much as the defensive effort of the team let him down. This past month may have been one of the best looking and consistent runs that Mazanec has had as a member of the Admirals.
It may not be where Mazanec would have hoped to have been this season but he is making the most of his time in the AHL. It is on him to make the rest of the time this season has to offer count. His contract is up and the Predators might not exactly need a spot for him next season. He needs to get himself on other teams’ radars if that is the case and the only way to do that is to play at an incredibly high level. The Admirals can greatly benefit from him doing that. And Mazanec is certainly doing all that he can to see that happen for the team and for himself moving forward.
Other players who did stand out to me this month that deserved a mention: Jimmy Oligny has stepped up in a time where the defense has been beaten up and he is now the “seasoned veteran defenseman” at the age of 23. Pontus Åberg has been -by miles- the best and most consistent Admirals forward and is putting himself back into contention for a call-up to the NHL. Kevin Fiala made a return to the Admirals at the AHL level and has looked tremendous. And Alex Carrier, similar to Oligny but to a lesser extent, has stepped up huge for the Admirals defense when they have badly needed consistency in approach.
~Admiral of the Month Award~
October: Juuse Saros
November: Alex Carrier
December: Harry Zolnierczyk
January: Marek Mazanec
Who do you feel was the top performer for the Milwaukee Admirals during the month of January? Was it Mazanec, Oligny, Åberg or someone else? Tell me who your Admiral of the Month was in the comment section below.
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