The Milwaukee Admirals did a few things in last 4-1 win that hasn’t happened in quite some time. Let’s evaluate.
The Pointless Wolves…
First regulation win against the Chicago Wolves since 4/20/13 in Chicago. If you want to get more technical about it, considering this team was effectively the Peoria Rivermen a season ago, it was a whopping one entire day after that game, 4/21/13 in Peoria. Either way you look at it – a Magnus Hellberg shutout was the factor in the Ads last regulation win over the Wolves.
Austin Watson’s Hat Trick…
The last time a member of the Milwaukee Admirals scored a hat trick was by Juuso Puustinen on 1/25/13 against the Oklahoma City Barons. That night was also a concert night. Puustinen had Brantley Gilbert. Watson had Gavin DeGraw.
For those also wondering when the last hat trick was prior to Puustinen you’ll have to go back to 11/29/11 when Chris Mueller scored three goals and an assist against the Abbotsford Heat.
Three Goals In One Period…
The last time an Admiral scored three goals in a single period of hockey was by Dave Scratchard on 4/9/10. He actually scored four-goals that night – scoring the final three in succession in a span of 12:42 of ice time during the third period. Watson scored all three of his goals from the power-play in a span of 8:54 of ice time in the second period.
Fun Fact, Scratchard’s four-goal game took place on *drum roll* a concert night. It was KC and the Sunshine Band that night.
After the game I was in a full sprint to get my story up – get to and through interviews fast – all before Gavin DeGraw’s concert drowned out the BC with loud noises. In addition, the Admirals were also in “pack up camp” mode with the road trip to Iowa today. I suppose what I’m saying is… this was a quicker interview section than I’d have liked it to be.
The Admirals won 4-1 last night over the Iowa Wild. The nail in the coffin came from Filip Forsberg‘s late second period power-play goal. Things seemed rather tight and along the walls up until then. Enter the third period – and away went the Wild’s composure.
Mathieu Tousignant might chirp up a storm during the course of a game. He can play an equally agitating game for his speed and strength on the ice – hounding puck carriers or just cycling a forecheck. He also doesn’t shy away from finishing off his checks. And it was just that which blew the lid off of Brad Winchester last night.
The incident between those two seemed to get up the nose of Curt Gogol. With only 1:09 remaining in the game, and Tousignant on the ice, Gogol sought him out and attempted to sucker him as the puck was actually in the Wild’s attacking end. Tousignant seemed like he instantly hit the deck once he saw Gogol’s stick come flying up around his face – and did get out of the game without further incident. Meanwhile, Gogol was handed an instigating minor, a fighting major, and a game misconduct for instigating.
This was somewhat reminiscent of the Admirals 9-1 victory over the Wild when Corbin Baldwin was a human torpedo on the ice – and really, for the way he was acting on the ice, made the game seem secondary from the perspective of the Wild. Credit where credit is due, at least Baldwin asked Mike Liambas to fight rather than take matters into his own hands and do his team massive damage by taking unnecessary penalties in the process.
Those two moments left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth at the end of this game. Still, you can take it as a positive that the Admirals maintained composure and let the Wild shoot their foot right off. As you’ll hear Tousignant say – they took huge penalties in that last period and it put the game to bed.
This morning I went to practice at the MSOE Kern Center to catch the Admirals before the set sail for the four-game road trip. There were plenty of things to talk about, hence this being a Blender issue, so let’s jump in!
~Admirals sign Michael Young to an ATO~
If phones could work in the Kern – I’d have known exactly who the newbie was thanks to you readers commenting about him ASAP. Instead, I got the “watch the movie without watching the trailer” experience. All I saw was a rather tall lefty-shot wearing a black “defenseman” practice jersey and a helmet with Teddy Ruth’s ol’ #5 on it.
Michael Young is a 25-year old defenseman who recently finished up his playing time at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. During his time there he played in 148 games, scored 68 points (13 goals, 55 assists), and recorded 109 penalty minutes.
As far as his play, he looked incredibly crafty on his feet. Pretty impressed with his skating ability. He worked typical drills out there but, interestingly, was paired the entire time alongside Scott Ford. I can only assume that’s a way of pairing the new recruit with the captain – who can talk him through systems.
He was also out there today running drills on the penalty kill and seemed to handle himself rather well. It was only practice, but it was a decent study on how he handled the run of play in front of him.
Last bit of information from watching him today. The team runs a shootout drill where every skater on the team steps up. You miss your shootout attempt – you’re out. You make it – and you remain in the mini-competition. The final duel today came down to… Francis Wathier and, the newbie, Michael Young. Wathier did beat him. Still, all d-men were eliminated after the first round except for Young.
~Joonas Jarvinen and Taylor Beck Injury Update~
When I arrived at the rink I turned up just in time to spot a red practice jersey being worn by Joonas Jarvinen. The big Finn hasn’t played in a game since 2/28/14 vs. Iowa. In that contest he recorded his first multi-goal game but picked up what has only been described to me as an upper body injury.
As you’ll hear later on from Dean Evason in the Chatterbox section – Jarvinen will not travel with the team on the upcoming road trip.
Taylor Beck was also someone that skated prior to practice and didn’t participate in the main practice. Beck blocked a shot with his hand in Friday’s shootout victory over the Rockford IceHogs. After that game, I talked with him and he gave me a thumbs up… of course his thumb was bandaged up, lost a nail off of it, and his other fingers had a pretty neat-o outline of where the puck stung him. He played the rest of that game and scored in the shootout. He also played in the follow-up game Saturday against the San Antonio Rampage.
Beck is going to travel with the team on the road trip but is considered questionable in terms of Friday’s game in Rochester.
~The Mitch Korn Experience~
The Nashville Predators played last night in Edmonton and have the Vancouver Canucks tonight. Meanwhile, their brilliant goaltending coach Mitch Korn is with the Milwaukee Admirals.
He worked with the entire group (Marek Mazanec, Magnus Hellberg, and Scott Darling) very extensively. He was especially working hard with Hellberg at the tail-end of practice. That work comes with the additional news that follows.
~Magnus Hellberg Cleared For Game Action~
He has been skating and practicing hard for weeks and has felt better with each session. Today he received the news that he has been cleared for game action after missing two-months with a high ankle sprain.
Having watched him practice these last few weeks – I can say Hellberg looked really sharp today. I caught coach Korn running a skating drill for him and that was something he seemed to grasp well. The big bug for him with this injury was the stinging effects associated with the ankle sprain. To see him moving around that well during that drill tells me he’s more than capable should he get called upon during the road trip.
I haven’t heard an official account of this or not, but I do wonder what this means in terms of Hellberg, Darling, and who ends up going to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. I’ve expected Hellberg, having missed so much time, to get some games under his belt in the ECHL before making his return at the AHL level. Still, things have never been so cut and dry in regards to that possibility whenever I talked to Evason.
Once I have an update related to that matter – expect a new story or an update to this one.
Following practice I spoke with head coach Dean Evason, Mark Van Guilder, Austin Watson, and Scott Ford. Here is what everyone had to say before hitting the road.
The Admirals won 8-3 over the Rockford IceHogs last night. The Ads offense has now scored 19 goals in their last 3 games. Not too shabby, eh?
In Calle Jarnkrok‘s Milwaukee Admiral debut he managed to score 2 goals in two-different special teams scenarios: penalty kill and power-play. If you were to ask me how I assessed his game – I would say he played the game safe last night.
Jarnkrok had only practiced with the team in the morning, participated in the pre-game skate, and took to the ice in the first line change for the Ads in last night’s game. He could have been overwhelmed and played poorly – and I don’t think anyone would blame him considering the circumstances. But, he didn’t look overwhelmed. Instead he played to his strengths and slowly eased himself into the game – best showcased by his aggressive pounce on Jeremy Morin, while operating on the penalty kill, leading to his shorthanded goal.
There is a lot to like from Jarnkrok. I could have said as much prior to this game. He only makes this team stronger and I really like the dynamic of him and Filip Forsberg moving forward. There might not have been a lot of link-up play between them last night but I anticipate that being a combo that really works well. I think that will also be something Nashville takes stock of, too.
I felt the best player on the ice in the Admirals 8-3 win was Colton Sissons. These last few games, particularly last night, he appears to have found an extra gear. I wonder how much of last night’s introduction of Jarnkrok helped push Sissons game to another level. There is always to the chance to get jarred by another player of similar qualities, or the same position in that regard, possibly taking their place on the totem pole. This is where you get the fight or flight response from a player. You either step up your game or fly on out of town. Internal competition always leads to good things in my book. With guys like Sissons and Jarnkrok around – I think the two will benefit highly from one another as this season continues.
Now, let’s get to the ugly fat elephant in the room from last night’s game: the hits and subsequent injuries to Patrick Cehlin and Simon Moser.
The hit on Cehlin was not released to YouTube or anything like that. If the highlight was cut, like it was for the jumbotron’s replay, I expect the AHL office to be reviewing that before tonight’s rematch. For those that missed the game, missed the hit, and missed the replay – this is what I saw.
Cehlin was on the puck skating up from the right wing faceoff circle towards the blueline. He was attempting to pass the puck off but fumbled it while pulling the trigger. He did get the pass out before impact – but only just. The whole way through the play – from being on the puck, to fumbling it, to passing it – Brad Mills targeted him. He had him lined up, saw Cehlin’s head was down, and still decided to go in for the hit. Even worse – where he aimed his hit. If Mills followed through with his check to the body we would be here discussing how much worse it could have been. If it were a check through the body – it may have been well and truly been a clean hit on the part of Mills and, perhaps, Cehlin only gets the wind knocked out of him. To boot, perhaps Mills only fights Mike Liambas once – if at all. Instead, Mills decided to measure in and deliver his check square to the side of Cehlin’s head with an elbow and laid him out.
Just as equally disturbing as the hit was the lack of a penalty on the hit by the officials. Whenever you see line brawl situations such as last night there is typically a good reason why the two teams want to engage in the first place – but there is also the opportunity for the officials to temper things before they reach that level. That entire third period was a wash as far as officiating goes. They either lost control of the game or didn’t even attempt to control it. And it led to the following.
Moser’s hit is available to see on YouTube thanks to it triggering last night’s line brawl between the Admirals and IceHogs. While the hit itself may not have had the viscous intent as Mills’ against Cehlin – it is still a blindside hit that targets a player in a vulnerable position. Think of it this way: you don’t get players like Charles-Olivier Roussel and Austin Watson to toss their gloves and come after you unless you did something profoundly wrong.
After the game I saw Moser in the locker room in a sling. Take that knowledge. Combine it with the video highlight. I’m guessing that’s a collarbone injury (guess – not fact – guess). If that guess is accurate – we’re talking about a two month injury.
Did Bobby Shea intend to injure Moser with that hit? I don’t think so. But what I do know is that he clearly was setting his sights on an open ice hit in the neutral zone. I think he got so caught up in attempting to make a big play, something that the IceHogs desperately lacked last night, that he didn’t take into account how or where the hit was going to land. He hit him blindside. He hit him high. That’ll add enough fuel on the fire to get an entire Admirals team to jump you… even Mark Van Guilder, of all people, went after him.
While I feel both Mills and Shea should have been ejected for their own good last night – credit where credit is due – they answered the bell when the Admirals came looking for their own sense of justice. Mills fought with Liambas twice. Shea was pulverized by Scott Valentine.
In truth, that’s all that needed to be done from the IceHogs – and it should have happened way before the third period where players from their team can safely take a game misconduct penalty and call it a day. The IceHogs probably should have just tried getting some energy with a fight after it was 4-0 with half the game remaining. Instead, they waited until late in the third period to try and engage the Admirals and, when they did, they did so in viscous and reckless fashion fashion. To me, that isn’t hockey. It’s gutless. And unfortunately for the IceHogs with their track record under head coach Ted Dent – they get into these sort of situations far too often: 4/12/12 @ Milwaukee Admirals… 1/19/13 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins… 2/7/14 @ Milwaukee Admirals.
I don’t have even the remote idea what we should expect from tonight’s sequel in Rockford. I only know that Cehlin and Moser will not take part and there is a chance that Mills and Shea will. That angers me. While there is no telling if or when the AHL will take action against this game – I certainly feel things should be tighter tonight than they were yesterday. This game is a giant powder keg waiting to go off if on-ice officials treat it to the same degree as last night. Here is hoping things simmer over night and the game takes precedent to stupidity.
Most of the time, when asked who I want to speak to post-game, I have an idea of who I want and what I’d like to talk about. When asked who do I want to speak to last night I responded with, “everyone.”
That meant speaking to the likes of Dean Evason, Mathieu Tousignant, Calle Jarnkrok, Marek Mazanec, and Taylor Beck. Here is what they had to say following last night’s 8-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs.
Last night the Admirals went toe-to-toe with the best in the Western Conference and came up short. Of all the recent losses, to which sadly they are now piling up, this one hurt a little bit more because it was the top team in the West and the Admirals didn’t just hang with them during the game – they outplayed them through two periods of hockey. This was a game to step up, knock off a big dog, and get momentum going ahead of a big weekend. Instead, we get another loss at home – and more head scratching as to what is the missing ingredient that the team needs to push the over the top.
Being that last night was a concert night (and a loss) I zipped through post-game interviews. I sat in on Dean Evason’s post-game presser and talked with Anthony Bitetto before heading back up to press row to complete my story before loud noises happened (Cheap Trick, for those who missed it, was the highlight of the night). Here is what Evason and Bitetto had to say following the defeat to Abbotsford.
This has been an exciting week in Admirals hockey. Simon Moser to the Olympics. Colton Sissons named to the AHL All Star Classic. And, as of this morning, the recently named World Juniors MVP Filip Forsberg will be joining the team this weekend.
My plan was to write a feature story on Mike Liambas for today. Unfortunately, due to a Pink concert rocking the Bradley Center, I couldn’t get in for interviews until today – and even then our assistant coach Stan Drulia had a matter to attend to after practice. Long story short: expect that feature story to turn up on Monday. As always, I had lots of fun chatting with our resident enforcer and all-around good guy Mike. Should be a fun write up.
That not getting posted today does give way to this edition of the Blender, though. I did also interview the likes of Colton “The All Star” Sissons, Anthony Bitetto, and Scott Valentine today. So here is a little of what they had to say regarding the week’s news and the road ahead.
Last night I didn’t chat with many people after the game. I interviewed head coach Dean Evason and the game’s number one star Kevin Henderson. That was it. So, in lieu of a standard Chatterbox being short and a Scouting the Enemy for the Checkers still being pretty relevant to the last meetings between the sides, I figure I’ll blend some audio, video, notes, and musings this morning!
Last Night’s 4-1 Ads Win
Coming into last night’s game I felt the best and worst games of the season so far have been against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The best: 11/13, Griffins 1-2 Ads (video highlights). The worst: 11/20, Ads 0-5 Griffins (Video Highlights). After last night I think I have a new best. That was one of the best start to finish jobs of the entire season for the Ads.
We talked an awful lot in the early months of the season of that let down period for the Ads. Sometimes it was the opening period. Other nights it was in the third. When it came to the early season Texas road trip it was the second period. Last night, start to finish, that team played great – played great against the Western Conference’s best team – and actually managed to beat them while playing their style of hockey.
The first period, while the shots don’t tell the story, was pretty well controlled for the Ads with a few good chances that missed out. In the second period, ker-blammo. I’m not exactly sure if the coaching staff wanted to play a breed of hockey that was that wide open but, if the other team isn’t going to disrupt the speed or deny odd man rushes, why not?
I think the second period could easily be summed up in the space between the Salomaki penalty call of the second period and his subsequent goal after breaking out of the box from that penalty. The Ads scored quickly on the four-on-four situation caused by the penalty (Sissons). When the Griffins take to their abbreviated power-play – Watson gets a takeaway from neutral ice, skated in all alone from the blueline, and narrowly misses out on a shorthanded goal. Then the Griffins power-play expires… Ryan Sproul and company are leaving the ice to change… and completely ignore the fact that Salomaki is out of the box with Henderson’s clearance setting him up for a breakaway – which he made look all fancy-like with a forehand to backhand finish (video).
It’s a game like last night that can really put some life into a team. The hope here is for the Ads to not instantly crash back down to Earth with a poor result against a woeful Charlotte Checkers group (we’ll get to them soon). With a good weekend put in last weekend, two wins and earning a point from an overtime loss, this team looks to have found its groove.
Remember when the news came that Joshua Shalla and Filip Forsberg were joining the mix? There were lots of bodies in camp. Which is good for two reasons. One, you now have an even higher stake of internal competition just to make it out on the ice and log minutes. Two, reasons like this previous weekend where the injury bug came around. Over last weekend the team was without Mike Liambas, Joonas Rask, Anthony Bitetto, and Scott Valentine for all at least one game. Bitetto missed one game due to an illness and returned the next day. That turned out to be a good thing because Valentine crashed into the boards the night Bitetto was out and injured his leg. Rask, who was on the receiving end of a boarding hit by Steve Pinizzotto as well as a body splash from him after the fact, hurt his right shoulder from the incident and missed all last weekend.
Last night, Mike Liambas returned to the ice after missing all of last week. He looked back up to speed and played his usual style of gritty and aggressive forechecking and backchecking. Whatever knock he took while playing in Grand Rapids, which there were many to choose from, it didn’t show last night.
Not expected to return this weekend are Joonas Rask and Scott Valentine. Evason said that the two are day-to-day types of injuries. Considering he typically talks in “short or long term” speak that is a good indication that these are not injuries that will keep them out for a significant amount of time.