Last night’s game was -way- more like it for the Milwaukee Admirals. The scoreline became tight and the result finished at 2-1 with a good threat to the final horn by the Rockford IceHogs but the Admirals looked solid in defense and that needs to be their building block in the push into the playoffs.
It’s not too often where I get drawn into purely watching a player for their defensive qualities but last night Justin Florek did that and he really helped sum up the team game for the Admirals. He was everywhere on the ice taking away time and space. His stickwork to get in the way of passing lanes and help negate shooting lanes was great. And he was quick to step from defense to offense.
That of course isn’t to say the Admirals went through the game cleanly. They still desperately need to figure out how to play in the second period during the long change because that’s where last night’s game could have gotten ugly if not for the work of Marek Mazanec. The Admirals were outshot 10-3 in last night’s second period. Since the start of March the Admirals have been outshot 196-170. In that same span the Admirals have only outshot their opponent in the second period six times from nineteen games. I don’t get why this has become such an issue for the team but their inability to get pucks deep and tilt the ice to make line changes easier tends to keep the pinned and they can’t quite fight out of it.
Something that dawned on me last night was the beauty of the late scheduling for the Admirals with their young players trickling in from juniors and college getting to find a groove while playing an opponent such as the IceHogs so often before the regular season ends. Yakov Trenin’s first game of the 2016-17 season with the Admirals was against the IceHogs last Saturday and he looked so much better tonight. It is a crying shame if video highlights are not produced of the goal he scored in Rockford because it was phenomenal and the first scored in his pro career. Samuel Girard’s second game of his pro playing career came on the weekend against the IceHogs – and he looked much more relaxed and played a great game alongside Jack Dougherty in Rockford. Tyler Moy made his pro debut last night against the IceHogs, looked to be slowly going through the motions but improved as the game developed, and he gets to see the IceHogs again on Friday night to get an even better feel for the pro game – all three of these youngsters will. It’s a great way for them to adjust and feel their way into the pro game by playing an opponent like the IceHogs two or three times before picking up the pace into the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.
After the game wrapped up I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Florek, Trenin, and Moy. These were last night’s post-game interviews.
Comments on the comments? Where are you at right now with the Milwaukee Admirals as Calder Cup contenders this season? Is this current team capable of making a big run or will the opening round series define whether or not they can?
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