The Milwaukee Admirals were back to it at the MSOE Kern Center this morning. The Admirals will look to snap a three-game losing skid and get back to winning ways this weekend. In order to do that they’ll need to run the gauntlet. The Admirals have a three-in-three weekend ahead of them which sees them play teams who are all ahead of them in the playoff picture.
When the 2017-18 season for Mark Zengerle he was set to embark on a European adventure in Sweden with Linköping HC. It was the first time in his career that he would be leaving North America behind. And, sadly, it just wasn’t a fit for all parties involved.
Zengerle would leave Linköping after only playing in 9 games and set his sights for an AHL return. He had signed with his hometown team the Rochester Americans but, upon re-entry to the AHL, he would be claimed on waivers by the Milwaukee Admirals. He quickly found his footing back in the state of Wisconsin where he played collegiately with the Badgers for four-years.
The Milwaukee Admirals returned to practice at the MSOE Kern Center after a scheduled off-day. What happened during the practice was rather standard but who participated made the day feel special. All of the brand new faces added recently were in attendance in today’s practice and there was also the return of Bobby Butler from his time with Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The process of re-engineering the team comes with 21 games remaining in the Admirals schedule. The Admirals are in sixth place of the Central Division standings.
When you look back at recent draft classes by the Nashville Predators it is hard to look past that group in 2014 and not just stare at all the names. It was a sensation draft that helped the Nashville Predators and feed into the Milwaukee Admirals. You had Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Kamenev, Jack Dougherty, Justin Kirkland, Viktor Arvidsson, Joonas Lyytinen, and Aaron Irving. That last name on there was really the only one that didn’t stick but Irving still made his pro debut with the Admirals and continues to play at an incredible level for the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL.
Yet, when Lyytinen first arrived to Milwaukee it was much like Irving: at the end of the 2015-16 season. He actually showed up with a fellow Finn and Nashville Predators draft pick named Janne Juvonen. Neither played. They sat back and had the chance to see the North American game up close through an AHL lens.
It felt like neither would be coming over after a 2016-17 season flew right on by with neither leaving the pro scene in their native Finland. That changed this season. Lyytinen is here and looking to make strides in one of the most competitive defensive cores in all of hockey: the Nashville Predators organization.
Today was NHL Trade Deadline Day. The Nashville Predators starting things off by announcing the signing of Mike Fisher to a contract for the rest of the season and then made another addition. The Predators acquired Ryan Hartman and a fifth round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Victor Ejdsell as well as a first and fourth round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. All this happened in the background as the Milwaukee Admirals returned to practice in Milwaukee following the completion of their four-game road trip.
When looking back on the Nashville Predators 2016 NHL Draft it was clear that they were looking to reinvest into their defensive nucleus and broaden the depth at defense. Dante Fabbro was selected by the Predators with the seventeenth pick in the first round. Samuel Girard would be taken in the second round. And, from the third round to the end, the Predators would draft a further three defensemen.
In that mix would be defenseman Fred Allard who was the second of two draft picks for the Predators in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He had just finished his third season with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) which was a then career best: 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) in 64 games. That would be bestest the very next season including a playoff run with Chicoutimi that was so good that he missed the opportunity to make his pro debut as a member of the Milwaukee Admirals at season’s end that would have saw him potentially link up with fellow Québécois defenseman Girard. He found his way to Milwaukee to start his professional career with the 2017-18 season. And he’s starting to make bigger splashes as a 20-year old AHL rookie.
The Milwaukee Admirals were shutout 1-0 this afternoon by the Texas Stars. The loss snapped a five-game point streak and ended the last of a four-game homestand on a bit of a down note. Yet, if you were to really put this game under an electron microscope, I think you would be hard pressed to find too many glaring positives or negatives for either team. This was simply a grinding defensive game with a wild bounce resulting in the game’s only goal. The chances for either to generate quality chances, even from the power-play, were almost nonexistent.
It finally happened. The Milwaukee Admirals lost a game in the shootout. They had been perfect in their first six opportunities and their typical aces to open up the first two rounds of the shootout were near perfect. Justin Kirkland had been 5/5 in shootout attempts. Frédérick Gaudreau was 3/4. And it all took a small step back. There should be good credit given to the San Antonio Rampage who did take the 5-4 shootout win for their play from the second period to the finish. Overall, this game is just slightly numb. Nothing overly great but certainly nothing that bad.
This morning the Milwaukee Admirals returned to practice at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. The team is coming off of a three-in-three weekend sweep and are riding a four-game winning streak heading into tomorrow night’s contest against the San Antonio Rampage. There were some changes along the way at practice -but- the winning look is staying mostly intact.
The Milwaukee Admirals have won four straight games and along the way swept a three-in-three marathon weekend. It wasn’t all clean. It wasn’t perfect, by any means. But what the Admirals are starting to show more and more is a fighting spirit and resiliency that is keeping them in games that they are finding ways to close out. Last night’s 5-4 win over the Stockton Heat was no different. They claimed their first lead of the game with 7:05 remaining in regulation and found a way to stamp out the win.