Day 1 of Milwaukee Admirals Training Camp is officially in the books. It was sensory overload. There were 29 players on the ice today at the MSOE Kern Center. Plenty of new faces. Plenty of new uniform numbers for the familiar faces. And a few roster invitees for good measure.
Let’s start by go over the current Training Camp Roster. There were three invitees brought into Training Camp and all are forwards. Those invitees include: Erik Bradford, Brandon Denham, and Justin Vaive. Bradford is a 22-year old who played last season in the ECHL with the Utah Grizzlies and Toledo Walleye. He is with the Norfolk Admirals this season after being part of a trade last season. Speaking of the Admirals ECHL affiliate in Norfolk: head coach Robbie Ftorek was on-hand at today’s practice. Denham is a 25-year old who was with the Manitoba Moose organization after completing his collegiate run at Robert Morris University. He played 9 games in the AHL during the 2015-16 season and scored 4 points (1 goals, 3 assists) but missed all of last season – presumably due to injury. Vaive is a 28-year old who already has 274 games of AHL experience as well as 60 games played in the ECHL. Last season, Vaive played with the Rochester Americans and produced 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 66 games. At this point in time Denham and Vaive do not have a contract for the 2017-18 season. This try-out in Training Camp with the Admirals could change that. It’s also worth rehashing that defenseman T.J. Melancon is also in camp as an invitee and has yet to officially sign with a team for the upcoming season.
Behind that, there were the regulars. And even they made things tricky in the “who is that” department. Changes one-year to the next in the uniform number side of things include: Derek Army (#11), Petter Granberg (#6), Tyler Kelleher (#63), Tyler Moy (#2), and Rick Pinkston (#7). The newbies to the squad this season also have their numerals: Frédéric Allard (#58) Bobby Butler (#12), Pierre-Cédric Labrie (#22), Anders Lindbäck (#39), Joonas Lyytinen (#75), Angelo Miceli (#94), Trevor Mingoia (#24), Matt O’Connor (#1), Jake Paterson (#57), and Emil Pettersson (#41).
These were today’s lines and pairings. It’s always worth noting that by no means is there a set configuration of “Line 1, Line 2, etc” attached to what is here. This is simply how they ran during drills today. It is cemented though that the goaltending battle is already down to two. Lindbäck has effectively been named “the guy” for the Admirals in the AHL. Next comes finding out who backs him up and who trickles to the Admirals in the ECHL.
It was a great sight seeing the familiar pairing of Jimmy Oligny and Alex Carrier. Oligny’s 2016-17 season ended prior to the playoffs with a significant knee injury that required surgery. He isn’t necessarily game-ready at this point but he is practicing hard. That is a fantastic sight to see. And it should mean getting a more seasoned anchor back on defense.
After practice wrapped up we had the opportunity to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. That was followed with the trek over to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for more interviews at the locker room with: Anthony Richard, Anders Lindbäck, Andrew O’Brien, Tyler Moy, Joonas Lyytinen, and -an Admirals Roundtable first because these two just can’t get enough of each other- Jack Dougherty & Justin Kirkland.
If you were one of the solid handful of fans who visited today’s first practice: who impressed you the most? Which players do you think could surprise this season? Are you confident in Anders Lindbäck as the Milwaukee Admirals first-choice goaltender for the 2017-18 season?
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