Once the Milwaukee Admirals really wrapped up their playoff position I’m not sure there was anything else to play for other than to get all players on the same page playing very composed, mature, and smart playoff style hockey to close out the regular season. The last two games for the Admirals against the Rockford IceHogs have shown just that and has featured some of the younger more unproven pro debutants starting to get a handle of the pro game.
In the Admirals 6-2 victory last night you really couldn’t help but appreciate the heads up work of Tyler Moy. The Admirals have placed him on a very nice line with Trevor Smith and Matt White to help him adjust as quickly as possible but the maturity of Moy to come in and work in Pontus Åberg‘s spot is impressive. Moy looked much more comfortable on the ice and appeared to be direct in his approach to the game. It allowed for him and those around him on the ice to have success.
Samuel Girard‘s first pro goal may not have been as flashy as say Yakov Trenin‘s but it still showed great intelligence, skill, and poise for him to be where he was on the ice to score off of a defender’s skate. Mike Ribeiro‘s pass for him was perfect -but- Girard reading the ice to see he could cheat down the left wing as the IceHogs were puck watching, be comfortable enough with his own speed that if the Ribeiro pass was off that he could loop back and defend with his speed, or even once he did get the pass the patience to hold the puck en route to the net to freeze defenders around him to create space on net – all of it. It was a smart and savvy play from an eighteen-year old defenseman in just his fifth professional hockey game.
Speaking of intelligence, or lack thereof, let’s chat about that awkward delay that started the game and then saw former-Admiral Michael Latta leave so abruptly. The short and sweet of it is that IceHogs head coach Ted Dent is an ignoramus. The more expansive explanation is that Latta was suited up and playing but was not on the IceHogs lineup card given to the officials prior to the game which Dent signs off on. You know who was on that lineup card though? #13, Anthony Louis – twice. You can view the lineup sheet right here. It’s as if when writing it up Dent got to the end, counted he was a player short, didn’t bother to read who was missing, and guessed Louis and penciled him down as the final player on the lineup. How that man was given an extension I will never know – but golly is it joyous he is on an opposing team within the Admirals division!
Another player that really impressed me last night was Justin Kirkland. I feel like that might have been the best he has looked this season. It always helps when there are certain lines that stick together and Kirkland’s work on the wing with Vladislav Kamenev and Adam Payerl has been great. That whole line meshes together very nicely. Kirkland’s pace and work rate last night were really fun to watch. Him getting the goal that he did was sort of “right time, right place” but he still worked himself into the right spot and finished. For the Admirals to be a serious playoff threat their team depth is what is going to need to put them over the top. Kirkland coming into his own at this point in the season could be a great thing for the playoff run.
And a final note. The announcement made prior to the game in which the Nashville Predators have extended their affiliation agreement with the Admirals for five-years is rather special all on its own. I’m not sure how many take for granted just how special that relationship or having an NHL/AHL partnership last as long as the Predators and Admirals have been together actually is. AHL teams, and ECHL teams for that matter, often come and go. Most tend to switch around NHL affiliates and last out but plenty bite the dust and are either never heard of again or take years to rise from the ashes under some form of new ownership. We’ll never truly know just how close the Admirals were in the last year or so to potentially being lost but the move to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and now this long-term affiliation agreement make things extremely clear until 2022. Milwaukee has a pro hockey team. And the road to Nashville is still the end goal.
After last night’s game finished I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Girard, Kirkland, and Moy. These were last night’s post-game comments.
Comments on the comments? Are you excited about the Predators and Admirals continuing to build together? What are you making of the current setup for the Admirals heading into the playoffs as these youngsters start to get more and more acclimated to the pro game?
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