As far as the “Admirals Roundtable Awards” season goes? Let’s start with the simple choice. In retrospect, it’s incredible to think at season’s start that goaltending was something of an alarming mystery. The beginning three options all had certain red flags upon entry to the Milwaukee Admirals. Now that 2017-18 has come and gone our choice for Goaltender of the Year Award belongs to Anders Lindbäck. And that decision was as easy as it gets.
After a good week off to properly digest the 2017-18 season: it’s time to start wrapping it up. Throughout this season you will have seen numerous great snapshots of the Milwaukee Admirals. The first of our end-season duties here at Admirals Roundtable is to give a proper salute to all of the great photographers from the past campaign. Let’s look back at 2017-18 in pictures.
Well, for the last time in the 2017-18 season, we must crown our Admiral of the Month. It’s unfortunate that April’s award will come without playoff performances to account for but the Milwaukee Admirals were eliminated from contention in the final week of the regular season. It’s difficult to say that the season ended poorly. The Admirals were playing their best hockey of the season ever since the NHL Trade Deadline. It’s perhaps unfortunate the moves made weren’t made sooner.
When I left the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena last night it seemed as if the city of Milwaukee was barren. I cut across all construction, took up towards the McKinley on-ramp, and was on my way home. It was in that silent drive on home that the dust had settled on a thought I had by the time December was rolling along. The Milwaukee Admirals weren’t going to make the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs this season. It perpetuated in the weeks and months that followed and only last night was it realized.
This is only the third time in the seventeen-year AHL history of the Admirals that they will not be making the playoffs. Yet, it is the second time in four-years that they have failed to reach the playoffs. What does that mean? What was this season? And what happens next for the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate?
It might have ended on a sour note but the month of March was one of the strongest runs of form for the Milwaukee Admirals during their 2017-18 season. The Admirals went 9-5-0-0 (18 points, 0.643 points percentage) in March. It was their most successful month since October when they went 5-2-0-0 record (10 points, 0.714 points percentage) to open up the season. And you couldn’t help but see a few key figures step up even more with the pressure of the playoffs looming over each and every game.
Alex Carrier burst onto the scene last season during his first full run of professional hockey. The defenseman from Québec handled everything with such maturity, poise, and precision that it was often times hard to believe he was only 20-years old and fresh off a major junior career with Gatineau Olympiques.
It was all such a blur. He was selected as an AHL All-Star representative for his efforts with the Milwaukee Admirals. He earned an NHL recall in January and would suit up twice to enjoy in his first ever experiences with the Nashville Predators. He would even end his season being around the Predators to watch their run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
“I mean, that was pretty awesome,” smiled Carrier. “Obviously at the end of the season I looked back. I had a great year. I was really happy with it.”
Unfortunately, this season hasn’t been that way. It has been difficult. And it hasn’t been as effortless as Carrier appeared to make it look. That doesn’t mean that this has been a bad season. This sophomore season for Carrier has been one long learning process.
The 2012 NHL Draft was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It would be the first chance for a then 18-year old forward from Sundsvall, Sweden named Emil Pettersson to be selected by an NHL team. How were his nerves doing to mark the occasion?
“I didn’t really care actually,” smirked Emil Pettersson. “I knew I wasn’t going to get drafted.”
At the time Pettersson was predominantly competing at the Junior-18 level with Timrå IK. He had time with the Junior-20 squad competing in the J20 SuperElit league in Sweden but he was flying under the radar as a wiry framed youngster. The 2012 NHL Draft came and went. Pettersson went undrafted. His aspirations would be to make it to the NHL but he never truly had expectations of ever being drafted.
Jump ahead to the late stages of the 2013 NHL Draft held in Newark, New Jersey. The Nashville Predators chose Pettersson in the sixth round with the 155th overall selection. It would still take a further four-years before Pettersson would arrive to North America.
Last season saw the emergence of four first year players with the Milwaukee Admirals: Alex Carrier, Jack Dougherty, Justin Kirkland, and Anthony Richard. All showed rather well but most have had to face real adversity in their sophomore campaign.
For Kirkland, his struggles in 2017-18 has an exact date circled around when things became difficult. 5 November, 2017. Vladislav Kamenev was traded away from the Admirals as part of a three team trade that helped acquire Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators. The organization did not bring back Adam Payerl and now Kirkland’s lone linemate that he gelled so well with as a first-year pro was traded away. It would take a month before he would even register a point.
In January, I was given the opportunity to follow the Firefighters involved in the Milwaukee Admirals Annual Battle of the Badges from their first practice session at The Ponds in Brookfield all the way up until the event itself. What followed was a journey into hockey, our local fire department, two trophies being won, and tremendous charity work.
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.