Admirals Drop Game 1 in Overtime, 4-3

(Photo Credit: Mark Newman)

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-3 in overtime against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the Van Andel Arena on Friday night. The Admirals now trail the Griffins 1-0 in the best of five opening round series of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.

It likely wasn’t a game that either side could be happy about as far as the discipline was concerned but the effort was certainly there from both teams. Frédérick Gaudreau was terrific on the night for the Admirals but the team lost a 3-2 lead in the third period and would fall in overtime. The Admirals have now lost nine straight playoff games dating back to the 2013 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.

This series started with some special teams work and it was the Admirals power-play that opened up the scoring. A face-off win from Trevor Smith quickly cycled back to Alex Carrier and then left wing for a hammer shot by Frédérick Gaudreau that flew past Jared Coreau.

The Griffins would answer right back with two goals in a matter of thirteen seconds. A delay of game penalty on Justin Kirkland allowed for a power-play goal by Matthew Ford. The Admirals were unable to clear the zone and Matthew Ford was able to scrap it out around the net to get a puck through on Marek Mazanec’s right pad. This was swiftly followed by a snap shot by Evgeny Svechnikov down the low left wing wall that had enough juice on it to keep motoring through Mazanec and trickle across the goal line and in.

Gaudreau would make sure the first period didn’t end with the Admirals trailing 2-1. On a rush play, Gaudreau had a break down the left wing with numbers joining him and he would tap the brakes on to find Petter Granberg atop the circles. The big Swede cranked a shot first time that appeared to surprise Coreau in net and made it 2-2 just prior to the final minute of the opening frame.

Discipline seemed to go out the window a touch for the second period. There were eight different minor penalties called and much of the frame was spent with the special team groups on the ice.

The lone marker coming in the second period would come shorthanded when a botch job by Joe Hicketts with the puck allowed for a clean break by Gaudreau. The mistake from Hicketts came near his attacking blueline in neutral ice but Gaudreau would be free in space once he entered the attacking zone and snapped a wrister low glove against Coreau to score his second tally and third point of the game.

Past the halfway point in the third period the Griffins would knot things up at 3-3. A puck was skipping by Mazanec and he was about to glove it down but Adam Pardy cut him off to play it away from the crease. The puck hopped up on his stick and fell back into the path of Matt Lorito who had plenty of open net to score the equalizer with 9:15 remaining in regulation.

That tally would force overtime in this series opener. Despite some good looks from both sides in the overtime frame the Griffins would get a sneaky shot by Tomas Nosek from just below the goal line in the low left wing to beat Mazanec and go in for the game-winning goal. The shot by Nosek was eerily similar to the one from Svechnikov earlier in the contest and it meant the Griffins claimed Game 1 while the Admirals search for a playoff victory stretched to nine consecutive defeats.

Game 2 takes place in Grand Rapids on Sunday at 3:00 PM CDT. The series then shifts back to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for Game 3 at 7:00 PM CDT on Wednesday night.

Ramblings: Since the end of the 2016-17 AHL Regular Season the Milwaukee Admirals did not make any roster moves. Tonight’s line combinations were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, White-Smith-Moy, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Trenin-Liambas, Pardy-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, Girard-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were: Army (healthy), Bass (lower-body injury), Kelleher (undisclosed injury), O’Brien (undisclosed injury), Perfetto (healthy), Pinkston (healthy), and Visentin (healthy).

What were your thoughts on Game 1? After this game do you feel the Milwaukee Admirals can learn and adapt to take a road game against the Grand Rapids Griffins to return to Milwaukee with a chance to finish the series? Are you concerned by Marek Mazanec allowing two goals from such bad angles?

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.

Posted in Game Recaps | 2 Comments

Chatterbox, Vol. 204

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Today was Media Day with the Milwaukee Admirals ahead of the start of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. It provided a nice glimpse into just what to expect when the team battles the Grand Rapids Griffins in the opening round which begins with Game 1 on Friday night at 6:00 PM CDT at the Van Andel Arena.

Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau
White-Smith-Moy
Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl
Florek-Trenin-Liambas
(+Bass-Perfetto-Army)

Pardy-Carrier
Murphy-Granberg
(Pinkston) Girard-Dougherty

Mazanec
Gunnarsson
Visentin

It was certainly all hands on deck. It feels like there hasn’t been this many bodies around since Training Camp and that isn’t limited to the players, either. The Admirals’ coaching staff was joined by Scott Nichol and Wade Redden of the Nashville Predators.

Prior to practice both Andrew O’Brien and Tyler Kelleher did skate on their own as they work their way back from injury. Jimmy Oligny is back around the team following his season ending surgery to lend support. And Cody Bass is continuing to progress very nicely and practiced with the team today while wearing a red “no contact” jersey. Bass managed to win the the shootout drill to end practice.

Everything else shapes out to look very much as structured as it did in the two games against the Rockford IceHogs last week. There shouldn’t be too many surprises for the lineup when it comes time for puck drop Friday night in Grand Rapids. As for the game itself? There is a load of anticipation to get playoff hockey started.

After practice there were several interviews to be had given that it was Media Day. I had the opportunity to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Justin Kirkland, Adam Payerl, Samuel Girard, Mike Ribeiro, Adam Pardy, Mark Visentin, and Tyler Moy. Here were all of today’s interviews before the team sets off for Grand Rapids.

Comments on the comments? Do you feel like the Milwaukee Admirals road success could lend well for a good start in this opening round series? What do you think is the key to shutting down the Grand Rapids Griffins in this series?

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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Round 1: The Battle for Redemption

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

If I really had to pick who the Milwaukee Admirals were to face in the opening round of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs – it would be the Grand Rapids Griffins. There are so many storylines that can make this five-game series special and you can start exactly a season ago when these two opened up the playoffs against each other on the back of the Admirals winning the Central Division title. That Admirals team was great. Yet, this year’s Admirals team matches up even better against this year’s Griffins and the chance for redemption is available.

~Redemption~

When the Admirals entered last year’s opening round series with the Griffins they entered having gone 3-5-0-0 against them during the 2015-16 regular season. All of their wins came on home ice and -at the time- they hadn’t won on the road in Grand Rapids since 1/31/15. This season, the Admirals are 5-6-1-0 against the Griffins and the majority of their wins have come at the Van Andel Arena. The Admirals won three of six games in Grand Rapids this season.

There are a few standout moments from when these two locked horns last year. They all end up being moments that ended with officials pausing the action only to give the Griffins a boost.

When the Admirals hosted Game 2 last season they were wrongly negated a goal for goaltender interference at a point in the game when they were starting to generate a solid push. The delay stunted that push and disallowed a perfectly good goal for Max Görtz. The Admirals would later get a goal from Vladislav Kamenev but lose on that disallowed goal call.

Game 3 of last year’s playoff series match up almost doesn’t need an introduction. That was the “Replacement Net” game in which a 1-0 Admirals first period lead suddenly vanished as not one but two shots by the Griffins in the second period were judged to have gone through the net for goals. The delay that came from both reviews only could have ever ended in stunting momentum that the Admirals generated and then giving it back to the Griffins to recover and surge – which they did en route to a series sweep.

Needless to say, I hope the officials do a thorough check on both nets for all games against the Griffins at the Van Andel Arena this time around.

~The Road Ahead~

As the Admirals will need to be road warriors in the playoffs everyone should rest in knowing that the Admirals ended the season as the league’s third best road team with a record of 23-11-1-3 (50 points, 0.658 points percentage). That will of course best tested out the gate against the Griffins who tied for eighth best in the league this season with a home record of 25-11-0-2 (52 points, 0.684 points percentage).

Another point of interest for the home-road splits between these two teams will be on special teams. The Admirals had the third best road penalty kill in the AHL this season killing  84.7%. The Griffins home power-play was the second best in the AHL at 26.2% which was marginally less than the best by the San Jose Barracuda (26.5%). The Admirals road power-play stands at 17.2% while the Griffins home penalty kill is 83.9%.

When you flip the two, the Admirals finished the regular season right behind the Griffins with the third best home power-play at 24.6%. The Admirals home penalty kill stood at 82.1%. The Griffins road penalty kill was 82.1% and their road power-play was the best in the entire league at 22.5%.

So, in short, penalties conceded in this series could make or break a game – especially at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. We saw a taste of that in the regular season finale when the Griffins won 5-1 with their power-play going 2/5 and penalty kill working a perfect 7/7. The chances with the man-advantage need to be capitalized upon for the Admirals and they will need to play mistake free hockey in order to lessen trips to the penalty box.

~Less Talk, More Play~

It makes sense for divisional opponents to have some bad blood between them but the Admirals and Griffins rivalry has mainly been contested out of supremacy rather than sheer nastiness on the ice. Earlier in the season Joe Hicketts did deliver a low-bridge check against Harry Zolnierczyk and become a slight lightning rod figure. That seems to have faded over time and things stick more to hard play.

That’s not to say that these two can’t get feisty. The talk I hear from most who play against the Griffins is that they are a team that talk, talk, and talk some more while never being the type to back of their words with a fight. You can get a general sense for some of their gamesmanship when the Admirals face them because they can get under the skin through players such as Tyler Bertuzzi, Mitch Callahan, and Colin Campbell.

If not talk alone, the Griffins do get into very underhanded tactics in an effort to win games despite having the talent to win on talent alone. Last year’s playoffs saw them rip the helmet off of Stefan Elliott and then push a puck at him to earn a helmet violation. As if to remind everyone of that moment – the Griffins did the exact same thing twice during the regular season finale. They ripped Trevor Murphy‘s helmet off and then passed a puck at his skates as he was skating towards the bench to make the necessary change. That wasn’t called -but- when they did it moments later to Mike Liambas – it was. It should go without saying but you’d hope the officials heading into this series are aware of this shady play by the Griffins and start actually calling for roughing when they rip off helmets rather than the secondary helmet violation that follows. This shouldn’t be a thing. The Griffins have somehow made it one.

~Key Contributors~

When you get away from antics and get down to the skill – the Admirals and Griffins are incredibly similar teams. Both can match up in speed, skill, strength, and goaltending. It always feels that the winner when these two meet ends up being the one who maximizes the best use of those qualities on the night.

The Griffins have some real firepower on offense and heads up playmakers. Matt Lorito ended the season as the team’s top scorer by a point ahead of Ben Street. And those two weren’t alone at 50+ points on the season for the Griffins as Evgeny Svechnikov and Martin Frk rounded that list off. Those top three names all had 30 assists or more while it was Frk ending the season as the Griffins top goal scorer with 27.

When looking at the Admirals you’re getting a team entering the playoffs without its best player this season. As rough as it might feel not having Pontus Åberg in the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs with the Admirals one would have a tough time arguing he doesn’t belong with the Nashville Predators during their 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. This entire season has seen Åberg be a dynamic all-around force for the Admirals and he ended the regular season as the team’s top scorer with 52 points (31 goals, 21 assists) in 56 games.  It will be difficult to fully replace his efforts on the ice -but- his absence creates serious opportunities.

Tyler Moy and Yakov Trenin both arrived at the completion of their respective collegiate and junior playing seasons and both have had time to work their way into the Admirals before the playoffs started. Moy and Trenin tallied their first pro goals last week and it was Trenin who made his pro debut this time last season in the opening round of the playoffs against these exact same Griffins. Both are going to be afforded a chance to really take a leap forward early in their pro careers in an intense playoff atmosphere.

Speaking about playoff experience. The Admirals happen to have someone in their lineup who has 67 career games of Stanley Cup Playoffs experience in Mike Ribeiro. It took the first few games for him and his linemates Frédérick Gaudreau and Anthony Richard to get going but all have been outstanding since coming together. That line, as well as the group featuring Kamenev centering Adam Payerl and Justin Kirkland, have been a constant as far as work ethic is concerned. Those groups could be key for this first round series.

~Between the Pipes~

The Griffins have a very good goaltender in Jared Coreau who should be -the guy- for them in this series. That said, he has split work this season alongside 26-year old Eddie Pasquale and it wasn’t Coreau in net for the Griffins during last year’s playoff series. That means things are a little up in the air for them – but both should be serviceable.

Against the Admirals this season Coreau did make more appearances than Pasquale. Coreau went 3-3-0-0 from 6 appearances with a 2.53 goals against average and 0.904 save percentage. Pasquale managed better numbers in his time against the Admirals this season with a 4-1-0-0 record from 5 appearances with a 1.79 goals against average, 0.945 save percentage, and 2 shutouts.

There is far less mystery when it comes to what the Admirals will do in net. Marek Mazanec has been the Admirals anchor for the 2016-17 season and should continue to be for the playoffs.

Mazanec’s numbers this season have been good. He has a record of 27-17-2-1 from 47 appearances with a 2.65 goals against average, 0.912 save percentage, and 3 shutouts. Yet, things get a bit sour for him when specifically looking at how this season has been against the Griffins. He has a 3-4-1-0 record this season against Grand Rapids with a 3.50 goals against average and 0.887 save percentage.

~No Excuses~

While the Admirals top scorer is up with their NHL affiliate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the Griffins don’t have that issue. The Detroit Red Wings playoff streak of 25-seasons ended this year and that allows for the Griffins to load up. This shouldn’t be an issue to the Admirals though. Above all, the Admirals biggest key to success for this series and the entire 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs should be to focus on their game and the strengths. The first challenge that awaits them is a big one but one that should also put that mindset into perspective. If the Admirals play their brand of hockey they should be good for a long run.

How do you see this opening round series between the Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Griffins playing out? Who will be the crucial figures for the Admirals that need to step up and deliver against the Griffins? What do the Admirals need to do in order to prevent results such as the regular season finale?

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.

Posted in Feature, Scouting | 1 Comment

Chatterbox, Vol. 203

Tyler Moy has started his pro career by scoring in all three pro games that he has played while contributing a goal and three assists. He could be an important figure for the Milwaukee Admirals in the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs and one that wasn’t in the picture until last week. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The 2016-17 AHL Regular Season has been completed and the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs are now officially set. Perhaps it was meant to be that on the final day of the regular season that the four teams out of the AHL’s Central Division would all be playing against their prospective opening round opponents.

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-1 at home to the Grand Rapids Griffins which meant that the Chicago Wolves needed to win their home game against the Charlotte Checkers to take the divisional crown. The Checkers were in the driver’s seat of that game. The Cleveland Monsters needed the Checkers to lose in regulation last night to sneak into the playoff picture. In the end, the Wolves rallied back in the third period by scoring twice to force overtime where they would win 4-3.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

I could talk at good length specifically about the Admirals game last night but I actually feel there isn’t too much that should be said given how the two teams approached the game. The Griffins played like a team that wanted to win the Central Division crown. The Admirals played like a team that was rotating pieces in and trying to be structured and as aggressive as that particular lineup could be. Honestly, the scoreline to me didn’t reflect the way the Admirals played. The Admirals did play a really good game last night. There were just some unfortunate moments and power-play goals allowed while their own power-play met the buzz-saw of Eddie Pasquale and friends. It’s a tough loss as a result. It was a great test for numerous individuals that participated though and that’s a great piece of education for them to have now that these teams know they are matched up in the first round of the playoffs.

The bottom line for me, and something I most want to casually remind fans who view last night’s game and now the opening round playoff series with dread, there is far more to be optimistic about with this current Admirals team right now than there ever was for last season’s opening round series against the Griffins.

What you have right now is an Admirals team that since February has been fine tuning itself for this exact time of the season and getting new pieces to fit in and to look and play the part. Everyone is looking far better now than they were in February and the style of play through March and into April is the brand of hockey that is needed to have playoff success. And, what is exciting, they now know for sure that it is the Griffins standing in their way and they have an opportunity at redemption for last year’s playoffs while also stamping down a tense rivalry that has surfaced throughout this season.

The Admirals and Griffins match-up so well. They’re loaded with depth, skill, speed, and strength. If there is any area that gets me to hesitate or grit my teeth with how this series could go it is the gamesmanship of the Griffins during the run of play or after whistles that gets under the Admirals skin at times and forces them to become flustered. The Admirals need to simply shut that out and shut the Griffins up with their own style of play and focus on their own game. When the Admirals stay within themselves and operate at five-on-five they had the Griffins stride for stride last night with a group of players that won’t all be factoring into the opening round series. The Admirals are in a series that they can very much win and win without an added trip to the Van Andel Arena.

I will have a far more extensive playoff preview in the mid-week as we all get ready for the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs to start up. What you can get down on your calendars right now is this. The Admirals already have their full playoff schedule for the opening round ready.

After last night’s game completed I spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Frédérick Gaudreau, Jack Dougherty, and Tyler Moy. These were the post-game comments which all came as the Wolves and Checkers were in the second intermission last night and all of us where in the dark as far as who the exact opponent was going to be in the playoffs.

Comments on the comments? How are your nerves after last night’s game? Can the Milwaukee Admirals do what they didn’t last year against the Grand Rapids Griffins in Round 1?

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 Stumble In Regular Season Finale; Lose 5-1

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-1 against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Saturday night.

In the 2016-17 regular season finale things never truly went the Admirals way. Whether it be odd calls or simply a stellar performance in net for Eddie Pasquale – the Admirals couldn’t get a break tonight. It is the fourth straight loss on the regular season finale for the Admirals but the team is still very optimistic heading into the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.

“You want to finish playing the right way and I though, for the most part, we did,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “I thought we played the right way. [Grand Rapids] caught a couple of breaks, obviously, a couple of power-play goals to put them up a couple of goals. But, five-on-five we thought we did a lot of really good things in the hockey game. We didn’t get the result but we had opportunities to possibly get the result. We worked hard. We played hard the last two nights. We’ll be positive going forward here.”

This game started very sour as Vladislav Kamenev was undercut in neutral ice and sent flying. There was no call on the ice and he took a retaliation penalty which was followed by a bench minor against the Admirals. It gave the Griffins a full two minutes of five-on-three power play to work with and they would break the Admirals penalty kill run of twenty-eight straight kills.

The passing play went Joe Hicketts at the point to Evgeny Svechnikov on the right with to the back post on left wing for Mitch Callahan who beat Jonas Gunnarsson back to the near post to score his sixteenth goal of the season and make it a 1-0 Griffins advantage.

Tyler Moy took matters into his own hands following some more absurd calls against the Admirals in the first period. The Harvard kid picked the pocket of former-Admiral Conor Allen and then turned around, skated in, and roofed a wrister to the glove-side of Eddie Pasquale. It was the first goal of Moy’s professional hockey career and comes in his third career game.

“Fortunate enough to get the puck with some space,” said Moy of his first pro goal. “It felt really good with it being here at home and everything. Great experience and a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”

It seemed fitting that the first period end in controversy after all the bizarre moments that were happening. A shot to the net by Filip Hronek was trapped in the left arm of Gunnarsson but a stiff whack by Tyler Bertuzzi knocked the puck through to the net for a goal as the horn sounded to end the opening period. It took video review to confirm that Bertuzzi scored his twelfth goal of the season with 0.6 seconds remaining in the first period.

The Griffins would extend their lead in the second period following a slashing minor against Rick Pinkston. Bertuzzi was very wide down the left wing and managed to work a pass all the way across to his opposite wing where Eric Tangradi was lurking. Gunnarsson over-committed to Bertuzzi and couldn’t recover in time to stop Tangradi’s shot which went in with ease for a power-play goal and his seventeenth of the season.

In the third period, after seeing their seventh power-play come and go, the Admirals saw the Griffins get a breakaway out of the penalty box. Svechnikov had served a bench minor for too many men on the ice and was off to the races once the penalty expired. He finished forehand to backhand with a five-hole shot that beat Gunnarsson for his twentieth goal of the season.

The damage would keep on keeping on in the third period. A howitzer of a slap shot from Colin Campbell flew through net front traffic and rang off the near-side post to beat Gunnarsson stick side for his ninth goal of the season and make it a 5-1 Griffins lead.

The game would finish right there. It was a very solid effort in net for Pasquale who only allowed the tally from Moy against the run of twenty-six shots on goal by the Admirals. The biggest hurt on the evening would be the Admirals getting blanked on seven power-play chances but those chances still generated lots of scoring opportunities. Pasquale was sharp in net tonight.

“He played very well,” said Evason of Pasquale. “They played very well in front of him. But we had good looks. Enough looks to have success, more than one goal. But we’ll find a way. Not a lot of scoring in playoffs.”

The Admirals finish the 2016-17 season with a record of 43-25-4-3 (93 points, 0.612 points percentage). They finish in third place of the Central Division and are set to start the opening round of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs on the road this coming Friday and Sunday. Their first two home games will be played on Wednesday April 26th at 7:00 PM CDT and -if necessary- Friday April 28th at 7:00 PM CDT.

Following the completion of tonight’s game the Chicago Wolves defeated the Charlotte Checkers 4-3 in overtime at the Allstate Arena to cement the playoff picture. The four teams that played tonight will lock horns in round one as the Wolves battle the Checkers and the Admirals match-up against the Griffins.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there were no roster moves made in the organization but the team did decide to rest several players in the regular season finale tonight. The line combinations were: Richard-Perfetto-Gaudreau, White-Army-Moy, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Liambas-Trenin-Florek, Pardy-Pinkston, Murphy-Granberg, Girard-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches included: Bass (lower-body injury), Carrier (healthy), Kelleher (undisclosed injury), Mazanec (healthy), O’Brien (undisclosed injury), Ribeiro (healthy), Smith (healthy). With the Admirals captain Trevor Smith sitting out for rest the team dressed three alternate captains: Mike Liambas, Adam Payerl, and Adam Pardy.

What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? Is this a sign of things to come in the playoffs or is this result unfair to judge because the Admirals rested so many of their players? Do you think it was right of the Admirals to back-off and rest players for the regular season finale?

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.

Posted in Game Recaps | 8 Comments

Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Mark Newman)

Tonight is the 2016-17 regular season finale for the AHL. There are still a few variables yet to be cemented as far as the playoff picture goes and tonight’s game could serve as a minor preview into just what could be the opening round series. The Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Griffins met last season in the opening round. That ended under very disappointing circumstances. With the right results unfolding tonight the Admirals could get a shot at redemption against the Griffins in the opening round of this year’s playoffs.

What the landscape of the Central Division looks like right now is rather fascinating. The Admirals are the lone team who really has nothing to gain or lose today. It’s the battle for the Central Division crown as well as the fourth and final playoff spot that is up for grabs.

The Cleveland Monsters actually ended their season yesterday and did so getting shutout in a 1-0 game at home against the Manitoba Moose. That could prove to be disastrous as last night the Charlotte Checkers fought back to earn a point in a 3-2 overtime loss on the road against the Griffins. That means that the Monsters need the Checkers to lose in regulation tonight as they face the current Central Division leading Chicago Wolves on the road. If the Checkers were to lose in overtime the tiebreak would favor them based on regulation and overtime wins (ROW). The Monsters will be begging for a Wolves regulation win.

Meanwhile, the Griffins and Wolves are separated by a single point for the Central Division crown on the final day of the regular season. The Wolves have 99 points with 41 ROW while the Griffins have 98 points and 43 ROW. Who wins the Central Division title and who the Admirals will face in the opening round of the playoffs is still very much up in the air. That game in Chicago between the Wolves and Checkers which starts at 7:00 PM CDT is the one that will solidify the playoff picture coming out of the division.

In some respects, I assume yourselves much like myself are wondering where this season has gone for the Griffins as they had been -the- dominant team within the division for the longest time while the Wolves were in chase mode with their high powered offense. Yet, since March 29th, they have gone 3-5-0-1. That spell started with a 3-2 regulation loss at home to the Admirals. They have won their last two games entering tonight but the Griffins won those in a shootout and in overtime against the Checkers in playoff style games. The Griffins have been grinding to the finish line.

Furthering the grind, the Griffins haven’t been -as- dominant over the Admirals as recent years have felt like. The Admirals are 5-5-1-0 against the Griffins this season with the majority of their wins coming at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. With a win tonight for the Admirals they will have beaten the Griffins as many times this season as they did the previous two seasons combined.

As the on-ice product for today goes: it is a mystery. It truly is. Last night, Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason stated that they would be resting some guys for tonight’s game which makes me believe we’ll be seeing a potential mix that includes: Derek Army, Stephen Perfetto, Rick Pinkston, Andrew O’Brien and Tyler Kelleher if they are healthy enough to play, and Jonas Gunnarsson in net.

If that is what the Admirals are planning in doing, and the Griffins go full assault with their strongest lineup in an effort to win the Central Division title, it doesn’t mean tonight’s game will be -bad- but it does create a heck of a test for players on the Admirals lineup that will be looking to make a bigger case for themselves on the playoff roster in the event that depth choices are required.

The Admirals are the ones tonight with nothing to play for. The Admirals players being rotated into the mix have a lot to play for. There will still a very competitive atmosphere on the ice but I’m expecting a more gritty and grinding style contest than the run and gun goal scoring extravaganza that was cooked up against the Rockford IceHogs last night. If the Admirals can win with their depth against a potential opening round opponent loading up to attempt a division title win? It could be a big confidence crusher for the Griffins and boost for the Admirals if that is in fact the first round series.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game and how the Central Division playoff picture is going to pan out? Do you think that the Milwaukee Admirals are right to rest their starting core that played these last two games and have been building momentum?

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.

Posted in Scouting | 2 Comments

Chatterbox, Vol. 202

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Once the Milwaukee Admirals really wrapped up their playoff position I’m not sure there was anything else to play for other than to get all players on the same page playing very composed, mature, and smart playoff style hockey to close out the regular season. The last two games for the Admirals against the Rockford IceHogs have shown just that and has featured some of the younger more unproven pro debutants starting to get a handle of the pro game.

In the Admirals 6-2 victory last night you really couldn’t help but appreciate the heads up work of Tyler Moy. The Admirals have placed him on a very nice line with Trevor Smith and Matt White to help him adjust as quickly as possible but the maturity of Moy to come in and work in Pontus Åberg‘s spot is impressive. Moy looked much more comfortable on the ice and appeared to be direct in his approach to the game. It allowed for him and those around him on the ice to have success.

Samuel Girard‘s first pro goal may not have been as flashy as say Yakov Trenin‘s but it still showed great intelligence, skill, and poise for him to be where he was on the ice to score off of a defender’s skate. Mike Ribeiro‘s pass for him was perfect -but- Girard reading the ice to see he could cheat down the left wing as the IceHogs were puck watching, be comfortable enough with his own speed that if the Ribeiro pass was off that he could loop back and defend with his speed, or even once he did get the pass the patience to hold the puck en route to the net to freeze defenders around him to create space on net – all of it. It was a smart and savvy play from an eighteen-year old defenseman in just his fifth professional hockey game.

Speaking of intelligence, or lack thereof, let’s chat about that awkward delay that started the game and then saw former-Admiral Michael Latta leave so abruptly. The short and sweet of it is that IceHogs head coach Ted Dent is an ignoramus. The more expansive explanation is that Latta was suited up and playing but was not on the IceHogs lineup card given to the officials prior to the game which Dent signs off on. You know who was on that lineup card though? #13, Anthony Louis – twice. You can view the lineup sheet right here. It’s as if when writing it up Dent got to the end, counted he was a player short, didn’t bother to read who was missing, and guessed Louis and penciled him down as the final player on the lineup. How that man was given an extension I will never know – but golly is it joyous he is on an opposing team within the Admirals division!

Another player that really impressed me last night was Justin Kirkland. I feel like that might have been the best he has looked this season. It always helps when there are certain lines that stick together and Kirkland’s work on the wing with Vladislav Kamenev and Adam Payerl has been great. That whole line meshes together very nicely. Kirkland’s pace and work rate last night were really fun to watch. Him getting the goal that he did was sort of “right time, right place” but he still worked himself into the right spot and finished. For the Admirals to be a serious playoff threat their team depth is what is going to need to put them over the top. Kirkland coming into his own at this point in the season could be a great thing for the playoff run.

And a final note. The announcement made prior to the game in which the Nashville Predators have extended their affiliation agreement with the Admirals for five-years is rather special all on its own. I’m not sure how many take for granted just how special that relationship or having an NHL/AHL partnership last as long as the Predators and Admirals have been together actually is. AHL teams, and ECHL teams for that matter, often come and go. Most tend to switch around NHL affiliates and last out but plenty bite the dust and are either never heard of again or take years to rise from the ashes under some form of new ownership. We’ll never truly know just how close the Admirals were in the last year or so to potentially being lost but the move to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and now this long-term affiliation agreement make things extremely clear until 2022. Milwaukee has a pro hockey team. And the road to Nashville is still the end goal.

After last night’s game finished I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Girard, Kirkland, and Moy. These were last night’s post-game comments.

Comments on the comments? Are you excited about the Predators and Admirals continuing to build together? What are you making of the current setup for the Admirals heading into the playoffs as these youngsters start to get more and more acclimated to the pro game?

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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Youngsters Shine; Ads Win 6-2

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 6-2 against the Rockford IceHogs at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Friday night.

On a night which saw the Admirals affiliation agreement with the Nashville Predators extended the team made a statement of their own on the ice. The Admirals improved upon their performance against the IceHogs in Rockford on Wednesday night with a high octane effort with a lot of their latest young guns contributing.

“It wasn’t that easy,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “They kept pushing when we got up a couple and then they pushed and got opportunities. They played hard. We didn’t expected anything different from Rockford. I don’t care where they are in the standings or where the game is at. They’re going to play the same way and they did. It was a good test for us.”

This game started in very unusual fashion. At the first whistle there was a good delay to figure out whether or not there was a fault on the part of the IceHogs lineup. Michael Latta was not listed on their submitted lineup sheet, was playing, and was subsequently pardoned for the rest of the game. Anthony Louis was written in twice on the roster that the officials were handed. That tactical blunder by the coaching staff meant playing a man short for the game.

Shortly after that bizarre event unfolded something a bit more normal these days happened with a power-play goal scored for the Admirals. Nolan Valleau tripped up Anthony Richard which set the stage for Frédérick Gaudreau to work his magic from the left wing circle. Gaudreau measured a wrister up and whistled it over the left shoulder of Mac Carruth to score his twenty-fifth goal of the season and give the Admirals a 1-0 lead.

The second period for the Admirals has been a toxic one to end the season. Their start to tonight’s second period was a welcome change.

After a lengthy series of passes, with rotating pieces all within the attacking zone, Mike Ribeiro spotted Samuel Girard leaping off from the left point and heading down the left wing. His pass caught him in stride and the young defenseman cut in on goal and attempted to center a pass back post -but- the puck deflected in off Valleau’s skate and in for Girard’s first pro goal and first pro point.

“It was a pass for [Anthony Richard] in front of the net,” laughed Girard. “But it hit the skate of the other player on the other side. So, it was a lucky goal – but it was a goal. I’m very happy about it.”

Valleau was already having a tough night after sitting in the box for the initial power-play goal and then having the Admirals third tally deflect in off his skate. Perhaps it was this that which paved the way for him to get the IceHogs off the mark. Valleau whipped a shot from along the left wing wall that beat Marek Mazanec to the far post and in for the defenseman’s third goal of the season.

Tyler Moy marked his home debut getting on the scoring fun for the Admirals. Moy motored along the left wing on his backhand, turned around the net, and threw a puck off to Petter Granberg who quickly deflected off left wing for Matt White to hammer a shot past Carruth. The tally for White was his fifteenth of the season and made it a 4-1 Admirals lead.

It took the IceHogs 1:01 of ice-time to answer right back. Much like their first goal, a bad angle shot from the left wing wall beat Mazanec. This go around it was Luc Snuggerud and his shot deflected in off the skate of Alex Carrier. The goal for Snuggerud was the first of his professional career.

On their second penalty kill of the night the Admirals made it a 5-2 game in the second period. Justin Florek made a stop up ice and started to drift wide to the right wing. The Admirals had a two-on-two but Adam pardy joined the shorthanded rush, received a saucer feed from Florek at the blueline, and Pardy polished off the rush. The veteran defenseman’s wrister snapped through Carruth and Pardy has his third goal of the season and the the Admirals fifth scored shorthanded.

Moy’s home debut would keep on shining with a primary assist to start the third period. The Admirals were cycling in attack when Moy unloaded a slap shot. Carruth did make the initial save but Moy’s shot had plenty of juice on it and spilled into the path for Trevor Smith to backhand in the rebound for his fourteenth goal of the season to increase the Admirals lead to 6-2.

The game would finish at that scoreline. It was another good effort in net for Mazanec who really can only kick himself over the IceHogs opening goal. Everything else for the Czech netminder was smooth as he earned his eighteenth win of the season.

Tomorrow night will mark the end of the 2016-17 regular season. The Admirals will host the Grand Rapids Griffins in a potential preview of their opening round playoff series. The Admirals home playoff games will be on Wednesday April 26th at 7:00 PM CDT and -if necessary- Friday April 28th at 7:00 PM CDT at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

“We want to make sure we’re hitting our highest step as we head into playoffs,” said Tyler Moy of tomorrow’s regular season finale against the Griffins. “I don’t think the game will change at all tomorrow. We just gotta stay on top of our game and treat it as if it is a playoff game.”

Ramblings: Prior to tonight’s game the Nashville Predators announced a new five-year affiliation agreement with the Milwaukee Admiral that will run through to the 2021-22 season. Since the Admirals played on Wednesday night the lone roster note was that Jonathan Diaby was placed on unconditional waivers and released. Diaby had one-year left on his contract and is now a free agent. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, White-Smith-Moy, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Trenin-Liambas, Pardy-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, Girard-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches were: Army (healthy), Bass (lower-body injury), Kelleher (undisclosed injury), O’Brien (undisclosed injury), Perfetto (healthy), Pinkston (healthy), and Visentin (healthy). Tonight’s attendance: 5,349.

What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? How impressed were you by the effort of Tyler Moy in his second pro game and home debut? Are these younger pieces starting to lock into place in time for the playoffs? Who would you rather see in the opening round: Chicago Wolves or the Grand Rapids Griffins?

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.

Posted in Game Recaps | 6 Comments

Nashville Extends Affiliation Agreement with Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The Nashville Predators have announced this afternoon that they have extended their affiliation agreement with the Milwaukee Admirals for five-years. The extension lasts until the 2021-22 season. The two have been partnered ever since the Predators franchise came into the NHL.

Press Release via Milwaukee Admirals:

Milwaukee, WI—Admirals Owner and CEO Harris Turer and Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the two clubs have extended their affiliation agreement for five years, taking the long-standing partnership through the 2021-22 season.

“We are excited to continue the successful relationship with Nashville,” said Turer. “David, [Nashville Assistant GM and Milwaukee GM] Paul Fenton and their staff are committed to developing players by continuing a winning tradition in Milwaukee, as evidenced by the success we have had in this affiliation.”

“We are very proud of the Admirals alumni like Pekka Rinne, Viktor Arvidsson, Roman Josi and many others who have helped to make the Predators a top-flight NHL team.”

Heading into tonight’s game the Admirals have accumulated a 783-513-31-71-102 record, good for a .589 points percentage, during their time with the Predators. The Ads have won five Division Titles, including last season, two conference crowns and won the Calder Cup Championship in 2004. Milwaukee became the first team in AHL history to record 40 or more wins in 10 straight seasons and they have posted 90 or more points in 10 of the past 13 seasons, including six years when they have broken the 100-point plateau. In addition, he Ads have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in 14 of the past 15 seasons, including the 2016-17 campaign.

Counting this season the Admirals have accumulated the second-most points in the AHL, behind only Hershey, since joining the league in 2001-02 after 24 seasons in the IHL.

The Predators and Admirals have functioned as affiliates since Nashville’s inception in 1998-99, the third longest active streak in the AHL, and more than 175 players have played at least one game for both teams in the past 19 seasons. Additionally, six of Milwaukee’s head or assistant coaches have graduated to the NHL level, including current Washington Capitals Assistant Lane Lambert, Tampa Bay Assistant Coaches Todd Richards and Brad Lauer, and Edmonton Oilers Assistant Coach Ian Herbers.

Many of Nashville’s core players spent time with the Admirals, including three of their top four point-getters in 2016-17. Three-time Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne spent his first three seasons in North America with the Ads from 2005-08, while Viktor Arvidsson, who tied for the Predators lead with 61 points this year, played parts of two seasons in Milwaukee from 2014-16. Filip Forsberg recorded 34 points (15g-19a) in 47 games with the Admirals in 2013-14 before going on to become the first player in Preds history to score 30 goals in back-to-back seasons and NHL All-Star Roman Josi patrolled the blueline for the Ads in 2010-12.

In addition, roster mainstays for the Predators like: Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Colin Wilson, Calle Jarnkork, Austin Watson, Colton Sissons, and Anthony Bitetto all spent time developing in Milwaukee before becoming full-time players in Nashville.

This season alone 19 players have skated for both the Admirals and Preds, including Alexandre Carrier, Vladislav Kamenev, Mike Liambas, and Freddy Gaudreau who all made their NHL debuts.

After the announcement both Milwaukee Admirals Owner Harris Turer and Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile were available to speak with the media to discuss the exciting news regarding the Predators and Admirals continued partnership.

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 Opening Round Home Playoff Schedule Locked

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Milwaukee Admirals have announced that their first two home playoff games will be contested on Wednesday April 26th at 7:00 PM CDT and -if necessary- Friday April 28th at 7:00 PM CDT at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

Press Release via Milwaukee Admirals:

Milwaukee, WI—Admirals President Jon Greenberg announced today that the team will play home playoff games on Wednesday, April 26 and, if necessary, Friday April 28. Both games will be at 7 pm at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

The Admirals will be the third seed in the Central Division and start their series on the road against either the Grand Rapids Griffins or the Chicago Wolves. The complete first round series schedule will be released as soon as the opponent is known, but it will not be prior to the conclusion of Friday night’s games.

Tickets for the April 26th game are as low as just $8 and are now on sale by clicking here or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Groups of 10 or more receive priority seating and discounts off the face value of the tickets. Fans interested in group tickets should call the Admirals office at (414) 227-0550.

In addition, ticket packages for the playoffs are currently available by clicking here. The packages begin at just $120 and include the same seat for every game during the Admirals post-season run. If the team doesn’t play all of the games the excess money can either be refunded or applied to a season tickets for the 2017-18 season.

At this point it still isn’t all that clear whether or not the Admirals will be facing the Chicago Wolves or the Grand Rapids Griffins in the opening round of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. What is known now is that the opening round series will be formatted as 2-2-1 with the Admirals slotted as the third seed taking the second set of home games in the best-of-five series.

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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