Firstly, apologies to those who typically expect Chatterbox up in the morning the day after a home game. I feel like it was just circumstantial enough last night where it could be pushed back because: the Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-1 at home the the Cleveland Monsters, all players would be going on the ice right after the loss to participate in Camera Night where they would be interacting with fans, and practice was scheduled for today.
Rather than nudge fans aside to do an interview with players on the ice, or do them before or after, I just assume let the players be and get the full scoop today. Which – I did. As I’m seeing from all the fan photos being sent my way on Twitter that I’m sharing back throughout the day. I must say, Camera Night looked to be a nice success for all fans who attended. As you’ll hear in interviews you fans also gave your favorite players a welcome boost following a tough night.
About last night’s game then. It was bad to start with but did pick up near the end of the night. The problem of course with that is that it is far too little far too late and that effort was needed from opening puck drop if they were really going to trouble Anton Forsberg in net for the Monsters. The Admirals struggled connecting passes and were out of sorts defensively. It was all at its peak worst in the opening twenty minutes and that’s where the game saw a 3-0 Monsters lead with a lead in shots on goal by a margin of 18-8. You can’t really expect to do that poorly so early and get back… in hockey, anyways.
What I did start appreciating more and more as I let that game sit in my head since it was played was the finish. The Admirals showed great fight and push back. In the final 40-minutes of hockey the Admirals outshot the Monsters 31-13 and the game rested on a scoreline of 1-1 in that span. What that again shows is how rough the first period ended up being for the overall picture. While the result stands, and is tough to swallow, the ending at least showed what you would want. The Admirals a few weeks back perhaps may have hung their heads after the first period and sputtered in place even longer. The scoreline could have been even worse if that were the case. But it wasn’t. The Admirals regrouped, battled hard, kept their approach far more simple and direct, and were just coming up empty on a nice night for Forsberg who stopped 38/39 shots. I’d hope the reminder then goes without much saying: play a complete 60-minute game.
The lone issue that may have raised a few red flags in the finish last night was Kevin Fiala taking a spearing major. I can’t say I saw enough of what really happened when it went down live. And, as there really won’t be a replay to show what happened, that’s all I have to go on. What I can say of the matter is that Fiala versus the Monsters has been brewing long enough that it spans an affiliate move through their organization. When he scored in overtime back on 4/1/15 he skated right up to Andrew Agozzino (now of the Chicago Wolves) and celebrated right in his face. That was when they were affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche. Last season they became the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets which they remain today. The bad blood exists and persists following the Admirals Inaugural School Day Game on 11/11/15 where Fiala ran over Joonas Korpisalo, earned a charging and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play, and proceeded to be targeted the rest of the game ending with Brett Gallant checking him to the head and Fiala promptly flipping off the Monsters bench prior to skating off the ice to the locker room.
That’s the history between Fiala and the Monsters. It’s not pretty and you can understand why both sides get after one another. What I see of the matter is that Fiala is an immensely competitive player. You want that. And you need that type of attitude at times to really excel. The problem is allowing it to be channeled in the wrong ways. Against the Monsters? It just comes out badly for Fiala. He winds them up. They wind him up. And no one really wins.
Perhaps it would have been forgotten about should Fiala have fought someone on the Monsters roster last season but he also doesn’t need to do that. It’s not part of his game. If someone else answers the bell for him you’d hope that would be enough. The Monsters just don’t seem to have forgotten.
Fiala has shown great strides in maturity this season. Last night was a case of seeing him allow emotions and his competitive attitude get the better of him. The incident, as so happens with all game misconducts, will be reviewed by the league for potentially further disciplinary actions. Should that be the case it will have been the second time Fiala was suspended by the AHL after a fracas with the Monsters. The Admirals see that team two more times before the season ends. Both of those games will be in Milwaukee – the location where Fiala has lashed back out twice now. It would do him well to focus less on the opponent and more of his own team. No talking. No reaction. Just allow his work rate to do all the chirping for him.
Oh, and then there is Mike Ribeiro. It really is hard for me to truly assess his Admirals debut given how everyone had a rather sloppy night. I would say though that he looked better and more comfortable as the game progressed. It should be far better for him moving forward as the Admirals have a three-in-three weekend in front of them. He should be much sharper with the extra games under his belt.
Today’s practice was all about skill drills as the team broke out the props and segmented into three groups while rotating through various set pieces. I feel like that was the perfect way to get back to basic mechanics while also keeping things light for the group. Ribeiro was once again extremely active in chatting with everyone and seems to have quickly taken up a leadership role when it comes to communicating with the youngsters of the Admirals.
As far as the, “how is he going to handle clearing waivers and going to the AHL,” question is concerned.. mind you, I had my concerns too.. I’m really impressed by all I’ve seen. He is doing the right things as a veteran player down in the AHL would be expected to. As games pick up, I’m optimistic that his performance in-game action will also speak to the ability that he does have. Ribeiro could be a big benefit to the Admirals down the stretch.
After practice was completed I did get tons of interviews collected. Derek Army was a big time fan request with his following that has shifted from Wheeling to Milwaukee. I also had the opportunity to speak with Nashville Predators Director of Player Development Scott Nichol who was leading today’s practice. I then spoke with Ribeiro as well as Andrew O’Brien. Busy day of talking. Let’s get to listening:
Comments on the comments? How do you expect this weekend’s three-in-three to shake out? Given how the last game against the Rockford IceHogs was are you anticipating even more fireworks Friday and Sunday?
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