Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Sam Iannamico)

Normally, I would like to say that I am an eternal optimist. Tonight’s game is one I’ve looked at on the schedule for awhile and thought it just didn’t look great. The Milwaukee Admirals split the deck with the Iowa Wild in the first two legs of this three-in-three weekend. That meant having a lengthy bus ride back after a 4-1 loss in Iowa to come home where a dominant Griffins team awaits. By all accounts this feels like it sets up harshly for the Admirals. If they are able to flip last night’s script to defeat the Griffins tonight? It could be one of the best results of the season.

What will be a factor for both teams is they are both at the end of a three-in-three. The Admirals had the Wild for two games. The Griffins played twice against the Chicago Wolves, first-leg at home and second-leg on the road, and won both times in games that each required overtime. Fatigue will very much play a factor in how this game can go. And -if it stays tight- it will likely be a test to see who has anything left in the gas tank in the third period to make a difference.

The Griffins will arrive to Milwaukee with a record of 40-17-1-4 (85 points, 0.685 points percentage). They are in the lead of the Central Division and saw their gap to second place ever so slightly grow with the overtime wins against the Wolves (0.656). The Admirals right now rest nestled in third place (0.619) as they have for quite some time now.

As high powered as the Wolves offense might be it is actually the Griffins who are the most lethal attacking team in the division. They score 3.48 goals per game while only conceding 2.47 goals against per game. The Griffins are one of the most balanced and well structured teams in the AHL. And, against the Admirals this season, are 5-3-0-0 with a pair of wins from three contests in Milwaukee.

The leading scorer for the Griffins is Matt Lorito who has 52 points (19 goals, 33 assists). He is followed very closely by Ben Street who has 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) which includes last night’s game-winning goal in overtime against the Wolves.

Those two are clearly not standing alone. The Griffins have three other players with 40 points or more: Martin Frk, 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists)… Evgeny Svechnikov, 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists)… and Tomas Nosek 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists).

By comparison the Admirals have no players at the 50 point plateau and only three players at the 40 points or more threshold: Frédérick Gaudreau, 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists)… Pontus Åberg, 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists)… and Trevor Smith, 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists).

Vladislav Kamenev could join that group tonight. The Russian currently has 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists). It would take a bit of puck luck for it to be done tonight -but- Matt White is also close to reaching that mark, too. White has 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) right now.

In net the Griffins have a tandem of Jared Coreau and Eddie Pasquale. Coreau made his NHL debut this season and has made 14 appearances this season with the Detroit Red Wings. He participated in both contests against the Wolves on Friday and Saturday night to push his season total in the AHL up to a record of 14-7-0-2 from 23 appearances with a 2.29 goals against average, 0.922 save percentage, and 2 shutouts.

If the Griffins decide to go a different route and not see Coreau work all three games of the weekend set it would give the reigns to Pasquale. As nice as that might sound the veteran netminder has won all three starts he has made against the Admirals this season and has a spectacular 0.99 goals against average, 0.968 save percentage, and 2 shutouts in the process.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Is this Milwaukee Admirals team capable enough right now to compete with this Grand Rapids Griffins team? How important will the start to this game be for the Admirals?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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No Luck Tonight in Iowa; Ads Lose 4-1

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

On the road tonight the Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-1 against the Iowa Wild at the Wells Fargo Arena.

Whenever there are more fighting majors than goals scored you are either looking at a highly explosive game or a loss. Tonight the Admirals came up on the wrong side of a Wild team that did a solid job of out-battling them to the point of attack tonight. Their efforts were backed by a quality effort from Steve Michalek in net who stopped all but one of the Admirals twenty-eight shots on goal.

Tonight’s game started pretty much where last night’s left off between Jimmy Oligny and Ryan Carter. The two dropped the gloves eleven seconds into the contest which was trickle over after a rough exchange in front of the net last night in Milwaukee. It was primarily a jab fest with with a few over-hand rights getting through. There was not much separating the two in the fight cards.

After a high sticking minor against Matt White the Wild were able to score from the night’s first power-play chance. Pat Cannone delivered a pass from the low left wing into the high right wing circle for a one-timed shot by A.J. Jenks. Jonas Gunnarsson was able to defend the shot by Jenks but the puck laid flat in the crease for Gerald Mayhew to score on a tap in and earn the first goal of his professional playing career.

Less than three minutes later the Wild were able to make it a 2-0 first period lead. The Wild were able to keep a cycle going and Sam Anas chipped a puck down the right wing wall for Zack Mitchell. It didn’t seem like there was any angle to shoot but Mitchell snuck a shot from below the goal line deep in the right wing pocket that rolled up off the skate of Gunnarsson as he hugged the near post to give Mitchell his tenth goal of the season.

Past the halfway point of the second period there was a moment of controversy from both sides of the ice. Hunter Warner delivered a huge hit on White as the forward had his head down. The check appeared to be targeted to the head and that drew the attention of Andrew O’Brien who went in for a fight. There wasn’t a call against Warner on the check. There wasn’t a call against O’Brien for instigating. And the Wild, if that fight didn’t whistle play dead, would have had a two-on-zip breakaway in attack. It was effectively left alone as a fight despite all that happened around it. Thankfully for the Admirals White wasn’t hurt on the play.

In the closing minutes of the second period the Admirals would get off the mark. A quick play in neutral ice between Anthony Richard and Frédérick Gaudreau sent the latter sprinting down the right wing wall. It appeared as if three Wild players were caught puck watching and Gaudreau labeled a pass for the back post to Stephen Perfetto that he took first time to beat Steve Michalek to score his first career AHL goal and make it a 2-1 game.

Out of the gate of the third period the Wild were able to notch a goal to take the wind out of the sails for the Admirals. Colton Beck passed out of the trapezoid to find Mayhew on the right face-off dot. His shot sailed back the net-front screen set by Tyler Sikura and beat Gunnarsson stick-side to make it 3-1 from Mayhew’s second career AHL goal.

Another fight would break out between these two teams as a result of a hard hit by the Wild. Trevor Murphy was clocked from behind and into the boards by Jenks. That had Adam Payerl after him and that fight, unlike the first tilt, has a decisive winner in Jenks who had the takedown after a quick flurry.

Before the Admirals pulled the trigger to bring Gunnarsson to the bench and bring the extra attacker on with under three-minutes remaining in regulation the Wild made it a 4-1 contest. Jenks ran clean through Murphy as he was breaking out of the defensive zone, corralled the loose puck, and proceeded to fire a wrister from the left wing circle low glove on Gunnarsson to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick with his first goal scored in the AHL this season.

It will be a long bus ride back tonight for the Admirals. They are heading home from Iowa right after this game and back to Milwaukee where they have a 5:00 PM CDT face-off tomorrow night on home ice against the Grand Rapids Griffins who just finished a two-in-two of their own against the Chicago Wolves. The Griffins won each of those games in overtime.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there weren’t roster moves made in the organization but there was more roster shuffling as the team rotates through injuries. The line combinations tonight were: Richard-Gaudreau-Perfetto, White-Smith-Åberg, Payerl-Kamenev-Kelleher, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were: Justin Kirkland (undisclosed injury), Adam Pardy (broken left arm), Rick Pinkston (healthy), and Mike Ribeiro (rest).

What are your thoughts on tonight’s game? What happened to the Milwaukee Admirals in the first period? What is your assessment of Jonas Gunnarsson this season? Will the Admirals have enough in the tank to compete toe-to-toe with the Grand Rapids Griffins tomorrow?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Chatterbox, Vol. 189

“Get out of here with that weak stuff,” said Vladislav Kamenev in perfect English last night allegedly. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The test of this weekend’s three-in-three for the Milwaukee Admirals is a big one. The Iowa Wild have been playing great hockey and the Grand Rapids Griffins are always sharp. To see the Admirals find a way over the top of this mountain required a very strong start to the top and they went out and delivered on that with a 2-1 win last night.

As a scoreline, that win doesn’t feel flashy or overwhelming but that in a lot of ways is a reflection of what the Admirals did correctly last night. They were incredibly structured and detailed. It took a penalty shot from Sam Anas to finally get a puck past Marek Mazanec. The Admirals push for a  “defense-first” mentality showed up last night and with it came minimal quality scoring chances for the Wild – a team that was on a four-game point streak and three-game winning streak.

In a lot of ways last night’s game previewed playoff style hockey. That first period was a little wide open at times, made all the nuttier by the lack of whistles or stoppages in play, but the work rate and specifically defensive work rate for both sides was very good. It took a heads up play by the Admirals on a three-on-two rush to get a goal for Justin Florek and then a bounce off of Mike Reilly‘s skate for them to get the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal on the power-play. Even for the Admirals it was tight. The different was, after the Florek goal, they really settled down and started to dictate the game.

I’m expecting plenty more of the same tonight. If anything, with the game taking place in Iowa with the loss hanging over their head -plus- Sunday off unlike the Admirals, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wild up their physical efforts and be even more aggressive. The desperation that the Wild started to play with towards the end of the third period, and the way they started the game, did get the Admirals caught up a little bit and caused turnovers to keep the Wild cycling in attack. The Admirals are going to probably need to weather a first period storm or find a way to silence the Wells Fargo Arena crowd.

After last night’s game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I then chatted with Pontus Åberg, Tyler Kelleher, and Anthony Richard. These were last night’s comments following the win over Iowa.

Comments on the comments? What are the chances that Jimmy Oligny and Ryan Carter drop the gloves tonight following the fracas between the two at the end of last night’s contest? With the Grand Rapids Griffins looming in the shadows Sunday: how important is it for the Admirals to get the victory tonight?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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A Complete Game; Ads Win 2-1

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 against the Iowa Wild at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Friday night.

It’s been awhile since the Admirals played a very well structured sixty-minutes of hockey but they accomplished that tonight against the Wild. They received goals from Justin Florek and Pontus Åberg to get them out in front. It was only a Sam Anas penalty shot that got the better of Marek Mazanec in the Admirals victory tonight.

“It was a real quick game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “No penalties. So everything was going really fast and both teams were working their butts off. That team works hard. Our team works hard. We have good games against them. Can’t see it being any different.”

Early into the first period the Admirals opened up the scoring with speed and numbers behind them. Mike Liambas had the puck down the right wing on a rush and was attempting a centering pass for Justin Florek that lofted a touch wide. Thankfully, Derek Army was also flying down the left wing and then opened up to deliver a picture perfect pass for Florek down the slot which he would bury past Alex Stalock for his ninth goal of the season.

“The goal was a big lift for us,” commented Evason. “We knew they had been playing very well. We knew they were very confident. One of our keys was to start well and hopefully take that confidence out of their game. We did not -but- we got the goal and the goal kind of did that for us.”

In the second period the Admirals extended their lead thanks to a power-play goal from the game’s first special teams exchange. Maxime Fortunus had been called for hooking and the Admirals top power-play group took care of business in twenty-four seconds. Pontus Åberg delivered a shot-pass from the left wing that looked to tag Frédérick Gaudreau en route to the net down the slot. Instead, the puck dinked into the net off of Wild defenseman Mike Reilly’s skate. It was Åberg’s twenty-fourth goal of the season.

“I’m trying to find Gaudreau in the middle there,” smiled Åberg. “It went under his stick and they scored a nice goal for me.”

Tonight marked the professional playing debut for Tyler Kelleher. Things were going swimmingly until a moment in the third period that he would like to have back. Sam Anas had a breakaway and his shot was stopped by Marek Mazanec. Yet, Kelleher took a slash across the right side of Anas to draw a penalty shot. Anas would swoop left wing and pull a backhand to forehand move that opened up the Czech goaltender to the stick-side for his eleventh goal of the season to deny Mazanec’s shutout bid.

Following a double-minor for slashing against Ryan Carter with 1:52 remaining in regulation it felt like the Admirals had a sure road to victory. The Wild still pushed and were able to get Stalock to the bench for the extra attacker just seven-seconds later. That wouldn’t get them much more that puck possession around the boards and the Admirals would get the clear and win when all was said and done.

Mazanec was in the right place at the right time whenever he was required tonight. He probably could feel hard done with the penalty shot that denied a shutout for him but his twenty-five saves on the evening gave a great foundation for the Admirals to build off of en route to their second consecutive win.

“He’s an NHL goalie,” said Åberg of Mazanec. “Good for us to have him down here. When we’re having our lowest he’s the one who is carrying the team back there. It’s nice to have him.”

Tomorrow night these two will lock horns once again but on the road at the Wells Fargo Arena in Iowa. That game will start at 6:00 PM CDT. Following the conclusion of that contest the Admirals will bus right back to Milwaukee for a Sunday clash against the Grand Rapids Griffins which starts at 5:00 PM CDT.

Ramblings: Prior to tonight’s game the Milwaukee Admirals announced the signing of University of New Hampshire standout Tyler Kelleher. The current Hobey Baker Award finalist is signed to an AHL contract with the Admirals through the rest of the 2016-17 season as well as the 2017-18 season and made his professional playing debut tonight. There was some shuffling with tonight’s line combinations: White-Smith-Åberg, Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, Kelleher-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Justin Kirkland (undisclosed injury), Adam Pardy (broken left arm), Stephen Perfetto (healthy), and Rick Pinkston (healthy).

What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? Was the penalty shot a correct call? How did you feel Tyler Kelleher looked in his pro debut and are you excited by what his time with the Milwaukee Admirals could be? How will these two clash tomorrow night in Iowa?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Admirals Sign Tyler Kelleher to AHL Contract

(Photo Credit: John Corneau)

It’s that time of season when collegiate and junior hockey seasons are coming to a close. Typically you see amateur try-out (ATO) contracts signed first but the Milwaukee Admirals first instance this season will be a tad different. The Admirals have signed forward Tyler Kelleher to an AHL Contract that will be good for the rest of the 2016-17 season and extend into the 2017-18 season.

Kelleher just completed a four-year career at the University of New Hampshire where he produced 167 points (57 goals, 110 assists) in 153 games. He was recently named as a finalist for this year’s Hobey Baker Award given to the best collegiate hockey player. His 2016-17 season saw him tally 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in 40 games which was the most in Hockey East and his assists total was the most across the NCAA.

The native of Longmeadow, Massachusetts turned 22-years old at the start of the new year. He might be only 5’6″ on the ice but times are changing these days. Size isn’t everything if the pure ability and skill to play exist and that will be the upcoming test awaiting Kelleher as he begins his professional playing career as a member of the Admirals where he will wear his #16 that he wore at New Hampshire.

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Wild: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Golly, it feels like ages since the Iowa Wild have fallen on the Milwaukee Admirals schedule. In fact, tonight and tomorrow night’s games are the first between the two sides in 2017. The last time they met was on 12/28/16 when the Admirals won 3-0 at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena behind a 25-save shutout from Jonas Gunnarsson.

The Admirals are 3-2-0-0 against the Wild this season and have won the past three contests straight. All games between these two teams have ended in regulation this season. Since moving to Iowa this head-to-head has seen no less than two overtime games per season. Though, times have clearly changed for the Wild as they’ve traditionally been among the worst teams in the AHL. That hasn’t been something you can say at all this season.

The Wild will be entering this weekend’s games with a record of 29-23-6-2 (66 points, 0.550 points percentage). They are currently right behind the Admirals in the Central Division which would see them in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season when they were the then Houston Aeros.

As they arrive to Milwaukee the Wild do so on a four-game point streak and three-game winning streak (3-0-1-0). The winning streak, in particular, all comes with road victories over the likes of the Rockford IceHogs and Texas Stars.

It doesn’t take much to see why the Wild have done such a phenomenal turn-around in the AHL this season over years past. They have brought in highly respected veteran talent who bring with them a culture of success. Pat Cannone, Maxime Fortunus, Jeff Hoggan, and Mike Weber have all performed very well this season and have helped add quality depth to what has been a typically shallow prospect pool filled team.

The leading scorer for the Wild this season is Teemu Pulkkinen. Yet, he has long since been dealt to the Arizona Coyotes. That kicks the title over to 20-year old AHL All-Star Alex Tuch. In his first pro season after having a successful two-year spell with Boston College out of the USNDT he has contributed 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in 42 games in the AHL. He has also played 6 games for the Minnesota Wild in the NHL but has yet to earn his first career NHL point as of yet.

In their team scoring race Cannone is right behind the youngster with 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists) in 57 games. The 30-year old center, who played as a member of the Chicago Wolves the previous three-seasons, logged his first career NHL games this season as a member of the Minnesota Wild.

Alex Stalock has been at the helm in net for the Wild during this current run and could well be the best part about it. In the three-game winning streak for the Wild he has stopped 105/109 shots on goal for a sparkling 0.963 save percentage. On the season the 29-year old holds a 19-12-6-1 record from 39 appearances to go with a 2.38 goals against average, 0.923 save percentage, a 3 shutouts. This has been the best full-season of work in the AHL for Stalock in his career.

What are your expectations for these two games against the Iowa Wild? How important will it be for the Milwaukee Admirals to not get caught out looking ahead to the finale of this weekend’s three-in-three, against the Grand Rapids Griffins, and take care of the task in front of them? Is it realistic that the Admirals can pull off the three-in-three sweep?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Fifteen with Derek Army

(Photo Credit: Charlotte Checkers // flickr)

One of the real treats of life in the AHL is the surprises that it can provide. There are roster shake-ups all the time and it can often require the services of players from outside the organization. When players are signed to professional try-out (PTO) contracts in the AHL it becomes a two-fold process. The team is getting an extra body in on loan from an ECHL based team but the player is getting to audition their on-ice résumé to show that they belong in the next level. Matt White was the pleasant surprise a season ago. Derek Army has been that story this season.

Army comes from a terrific hockey family. His grandfather, Tom, played for Providence College. His father, Tim, played for Providence College but also has a high level coaching career that has seen him be the assistant coach of the Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals, and has been with the Colorado Avalanche since the 2011-12 season. He has also been the head coach with USA Hockey and his alma mater. His uncle, Bill, played at Boston College. And his brother, Tim, played NCAA Division III hockey with Stonehill College.

As you might suspect then Derek’s path was always leading to this sport. He, like many in his family, turned to Providence College where he enjoyed a four-year collegiate career. He played 149 games and recorded 76 points (38 goals, 38 assists). He would join the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL following the conclusion of his college career and that would be his main base of operations for numerous cracks at breaking into the AHL scene.

In his first full season of pro hockey Army would make the ECHL All-Rookie Team. He produced 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 72 games which set the stage for a 2015-16 season that would have him entering four different AHL organizations on PTO basis. He played more games in the AHL (36) than he did in Wheeling of the ECHL (29) despite all the fluctuation of playing with the Portland Pirates, Ontario Reign, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and Texas Stars.

This season Army is approaching the 50/50 area of ECHL and AHL time. The different between last season and this one is he has found an AHL home with the Milwaukee Admirals. He was brought into the group in early December with the roster in a state of flux as the Nashville Predators were rattled by injury. That stint only lasted a week but he was brought right back in January and has yet to return to the ECHL. His time right now with the Admirals is the longest sustained time in the AHL of his career.

Cheers to Derek Army for taking the time to chat after practice last week. I wish those Wheeling Nailers fans let the world know sooner of how good of a hockey player and personality this guy is! Next in Fifteen is really dependent on who you want to hear from next. There are still plenty of players yet to be featured. Who do you want to hear from? Hit the comment section below with your suggestions.

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Chatterbox, Vol. 188

(Photo Credit: Greg Hamil)

Even if I didn’t take a nice long drive back home from Rockford I think last night’s game was the sort I’d need to really wait on, think about, and process before discussing it at length. Well, I have. And I’m still left really saying: wow, that was a weird game.

The Milwaukee Admirals did earn the 4-3 overtime win on the road over the Rockford IceHogs. As a result alone: good. For everything else I’m left with this constant sentiment of -dang- do they make games like that far harder on themselves than it has any right to be.

The Admirals had a rather nice start to the game but from the very first power-play they allow, on a weird call, they concede a goal and were then pressed on their heels. It isn’t to say they were awful in the process or made seriously glaring errors – those came later – but they had such a hard time being allowed to settle down and dictate the play. It feels very much, in an MMA or Boxing sense, that the Admirals are counter punch strikers who keep waiting for an opening to present itself rather than step forward and make it themselves. That element creeps in a lot but there was one man last night on a mission to break that mold. He is Admirals captain, Trevor Smith.

In last night’s game Smith really took over in ways that forced you pay attention. His face-off work was excellent but his penalty killing exceeded killing the penalty itself and often times he was generating scoring chances that were better than most that the Admirals were getting at even strength or on their power-play. Smith’s hustle to create the Admirals shorthanded goal last night was a massive moment in that game. Vinnie Hinostroza had just scored shy of two-minutes earlier and the IceHogs were sitting on a power-play looking for a two-goal lead. Smith gets his face-off assignment dealt with. He battles with pace up ice to generate an odd-man rush with Justin Florek. And the two never stopped digging until that puck got behind Jeff Glass. That leveled the game at 2-2. And cleaned the game’s slate.

Defensively, both teams had their good and bad moments but by the end of the second period it is a 2-2 game with shots on goal sitting at 28-25 IceHogs. It was such an incredibly scrappy game with both frankly throwing junk at the net and hoping for rebounds or second and third chance opportunities. The Admirals at times were getting out-muscled around their zone and were getting pucks lost in neutral ice in a jungle of sticks.  It took some rather special moments or special circumstances to get breakthroughs last night.

It was a very pleasant sight to have Matt White back in the Admirals lineup last night. The 27-year old forward missed the last two-games after suffering a loss in the family. While it always takes a quick adjustment to get back up to game speed it took White just over ten minutes to generate a primary assist on an odd-man rush with Pontus Åberg and out of the third period his snapped a slick shot off of a toe-drag to get the Admirals ahead for the first time in the contest. Some stability felt like it was back with him around again. He operates across the board for the Admirals on special teams and can often times go unnoticed for all the small details he gets spot on.

(Photo Credit: Todd Reicher)

Now, about that Åberg kid. If you were to go back and watch last night’s game – start it with two minutes remaining in the third period and you will get the full showcase for what I felt summed up that game. Åberg goes the distance on an empty net bid rather than win neutral ice, get the puck deep, or get a better chance for the net without the threat of icing. He then blows his defensive assignment, Hinostroza, on the very next face-off which would turn into the game-tying goal for the IceHogs. And, for a laugh, he was on the ice in three-on-three overtime for what felt like ages before alerting Marek Mazanec that the IceHogs were in a line change and to hit him for a quick pass up ice. Åberg was supposed to change. And he didn’t. And then Mike Ribeiro lays a picture perfect drop pass for him to get a shot down the slot before following in on Glass to snag his own rebound for the game-winning goal. It all went horribly wrong for Åberg at the end -but- he made up for it by doing what he is doing so well right now: score. Åberg has produced 20 points (13 goals, 7 assists) in his last 20 games.

The test ahead for the Admirals is a big one. This coming weekend is a three-in-three featuring a travel schedule that goes Milwaukee to Iowa to Milwaukee with the last game on the slate being the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Iowa Wild have been very good this season, as well, and that only makes two games in two nights against that squad all the more physically and mentally exhausting. It is a big challenge that is standing in front of the Admirals. They could make a huge statement if they work a weekend sweep.

After last night’s game I caught up with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason.  I also had the chance to speak with Åberg, Florek, and White. Here were their post-game comments.

Comments on the comments? Are these last two games for the Milwaukee Admirals clunkers that can be thrown away or are they “just those kind of games” in retrospect? What are you expecting of this upcoming three-in-three?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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Ads Scrap Back Against Rockford; Win 4-3 in OT

(Photo Credit: Greg Hamil)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 4-3 in overtime against the Rockford IceHogs on the road at the BMO Harris Bank Center on Tuesday night.

This was a car crash style game that had hectic ebbs-and-flows. It wasn’t until the third period when the Admirals held a lead and even then overtime was needed. He might have made three key mistakes to get there but Pontus Åberg’s second goal of the night was the winner in overtime.

“He messed up three times,” smirked Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Our group knows they can go for the [empty] net if we have a two goal lead. They get it out if we have a one goal lead. He messed up there. He messed up on their tying goal by going through his check. He should have went through [Hinostroza] first and then to the defense. And then he messes up by not changing at the end. Ultimately all his messes led to him scoring the game-winner.”

The game’s first power-play chance put the IceHogs ahead in the first period. Trevor Murphy was called for a kneeing minor against Vinnie Hinostroza. The IceHogs won the initial power-play face-off and quickly cycled d-to-d with a shot from the right point by Ville Pokka deflecting off the blade of Brandon Mashinter in the slot past the blocker side of Marek Mazanec. It just so happened to take an extra deflection off of Kyle Baun who would later be credited with the power-play goal for his twelfth goal of the season.

Matt White was welcomed back into the lineup tonight and his presence was felt quickly. The California native had pace down the left wing and seeing a two-on-two with Pontus Åberg on his opposite wing practically become a two-on-naught with their pace down the wings cutting to the net. White dished off to the back post run of Åberg and the Swede cradled it home past Jeff Glass for his team leading twenty-second goal of the season.

Prior to the midway point of this contest Chris DeSousa was called for a boarding major against Admirals captain Trevor Smith along the IceHogs bench. All the Admirals could do is generate four shots on goal and see a left wing shot by Åberg ring off the near post and go flying into the right wing boards.

It wasn’t all that long after the successful major penalty kill that the IceHogs put themselves back in front. They had generated great pace starting from their own zone and worked a rush play that cut the Admirals defense apart tic-tac-toe from Mashinter to Baun and then down the right wing for Hinostroza to barreled in on net to snag his second AHL goal of the season and second in as many games against the Admirals.

So, the Admirals power-play was getting stifled but that didn’t mean that their special teams couldn’t generate offense. Smith would get the Admirals off on a shorthanded rush with Justin Florek in tow. The initial shots would be denied by Glass but a scramble would form and Florek flicked a shot that nearly rolled in clean. Glass would swipe a glove to it before it rolled over the line but, in the process, appeared to lose the puck off his glove into his pad and back into the net. They all count the same and that shorthanded marker for Florek was his eighth goal scored on the season.

“We’ve kind of been talking about it lately. I don’t think we have too many shorthanded goals,” said Florek of the Admirals penalty kill. “We’ve kind of been talking about when we get the chance to capitalize off a few of their’s. Lately we’ve been getting a few more and hopefully we start to see a few more go in.”

DeSousa may have still had a small debt to pay as far as the Admirals were concerned. That or he simply owed last year’s teammate Mike Liambas one as the two let the gloves drop before the end of the second period. It was a decisive victory for Liambas who dropped DeSousa with stiff overhand rights.

Just past the midway point in the third period the Admirals would claim their first lead of the night. Jake Dowell took liberities with Trevor Murphy’s jousting in a post-whistle back-and-fourth and proceeded to throw a punch. That gave Dowell an added minor for roughing and the Admirals a power-play that ended in White getting a slick toe-drag as he cut from the low left wing circle into the slot. His shot flew past Glass stick-side to the near post for his twelfth goal of the season and make it a 3-2 Admirals lead.

With 1:53 remaining in regulation Glass took to the bench to get the extra attacker on for the IceHogs. Åberg went for an empty net bid only to draw an icing call and fourteen seconds of empty net and extra attacker later the IceHogs were level. They won a face-off and quickly had Hinostroza scoring his second goal of the night as he whistled a wrister through traffic and over the glove of Mazanec for his third goal of the season.

That tally meant this game would need overtime. In the overtime period the IceHogs would burn their timeout with 1:41 left in the period as the Admirals earned an attacking zone face-off. The Admirals would pin the puck deep from the point until a clearance saw the IceHogs race for a line change. That allowed Mazanec to get a quick pass up ice to Åberg who had a give-and-go between himself and Ribeiro. The veteran forward left a drop pass in-line for the Swede to swat a shot from the slot. Glass made the initial shot but Åberg followed in for his own rebound and popped the puck over the left pad to score the game-winning goal in overtime. His second goal of the night pushed him up to twenty-three goals on the season.

“It kind of felt like I needed that overtime goal,” said Åberg of his mistakes late in the game. “I felt like I had to give [Mazanec] an out. He put it a little too far for me so I thought their guy was going to get it. Got a stick. Got it between the guy’s legs. That guy went to change and I was supposed to change too but we had a clear three-on-two. So, I wanted to get that opportunity.”

Mazenec not only played a hand in the game-winning goal but his efforts in net to weather waves upon waves of IceHogs shots tonight was important for the Admirals in staying alive tonight. He ended the night with thirty-eight saves to get the Admirals back to winning ways.

Next on tap for the Admirals is a three-in-three weekend. They start on home ice Friday night against the Iowa Wild at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. On Saturday both the Admirals and Wild will travel to Des Moines for a 7:00 PM CDT face-off at the Wells Fargo Arena. The final stop sees the Admirals traveling all the way back home that night for a 5:00 PM CDT start against the high powered Grand Rapids Griffins on home ice.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Saturday night there have been no roster moves made by the organization. Tonight’s line combinations were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, White-Smith-Aberg, Perfetto-Kirkland-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Vladislav Kamenev (undisclosed injury), Adam Pardy (broken left arm), and Rick Pinkston (healthy).

What is your reaction to tonight’s game? It feels as if the Milwaukee Admirals, even when they get the results, have been sputtering: what is the primary reason?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

“WELCOME TO ERF,” said Justin Florek as he quoted his favorite line from Independence Day. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

While Saturday night’s game was a slight punch to the gut it would have nothing in comparison should that performance be repeated tonight. The Milwaukee Admirals were able to get the better of the Rockford IceHogs on Friday with a lesser squad by winning 5-2. It is expected that Vladislav Kamenev and Matt White will be returning to the mix tonight and that should be a very welcome boost.

The 4-0 shutout loss against the Chicago Wolves on Saturday shouldn’t entirely be forgotten about for the Admirals. There are plenty of areas and details for them that need to be cleaned up for the team to find success tonight on the road. Defensively responsible hockey is a good thing but their progression from defense to attack was stifled. They will need to clean up the neutral zone and be less careless in puck possession if they are to do what the Wolves did to them on Saturday night as they would like to do to the IceHogs tonight.

Since these two clashed on Friday night the IceHogs have not played. That frankly means our previous Scouting the Enemy on the IceHogs just about holds up! I must say, watching the Friday game, the IceHogs still possess some great talent in the form of Vinnie Hinostroza, Tyler Motte, and even Michael Latta – who has joined the team and been a consistent worker every night. Yet, losing their top three scorers at the NHL Trade Deadline was a proper gut punch and their hope of salvaging the 2016-17 season was pretty much squashed.

That isn’t to say that the IceHogs were playoff bound at that point in the season. This has been a highly disappointing year for the team who have a record of 21-30-8-3 (53 points, 0.427 points percentage). At the moment they are dead last in the Central Division. The team above them in the divisional standings are the Manitoba Moose (0.435) and the only team with a lesser record in the Western Conference are the San Antonio Rampage (0.415).

As far as things to cheer about the IceHogs do have those three still functional spark plugs in Hinostroza, Motte, and Latta. In particular Hinostroza’s efforts on Friday night are something to watch out for once again tonight. He earned him his first goal in the AHL this season while also getting a primary assist. The soon to be 23-year old Chicago native has 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 48 games with the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

In net is where you will find the biggest shake-up for the IceHogs tonight. Jeff Glass has returned to the AHL and should be given the reigns tonight after cuppa coffee in the big time while Scott Darling was out due to injury.

Glass’ 2016-17 season has been a very fun watch from afar considering what he’s accomplished in such a quick time under the IceHogs banner. The 31-year old goaltender was a third round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in the 2004 NHL Draft. His career in North America took a detour after the 2008-09 season and he set his sights to play in Russia’s KHL. He played there for the past seven seasons and this year was his return. Glass was signed by the Toronto Marlies, things didn’t work out, and then found himself as part of the IceHogs in mid-January.

In just over a month’s work Glass did well enough to earn an NHL contract from the Blackhawks good for the 2017-18 season. He has a record of 5-7-1-0 in 13 games with the IceHogs this season with a 2.62 goals against average, 0.910 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. He has won both starts he has had against the Admirals this season with a 1.45 goals against average and 0.945 save percentage.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? How big of a boost will it be for the team to get back Kamenev and White tonight? Is there the threat of Saturday’s woes trickling into tonight’s contest?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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