Saros named CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

He isn’t with the Milwaukee Admirals currently but he is still garnering AHL acclaim. Juuse Saros was named the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for his efforts during the month of November.

Press Release via AHL:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Bakersfield Condors forward Taylor Beck, Tucson Roadrunners forward Brendan Perlini and Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Juuse Saros have been selected as the league’s award winners for November.

Beck, the CCM/AHL Player of the Month, skated in nine games for Bakersfield during November and posted seven goals and eight assists for 15 points, contributing on nearly two-thirds of the Condors’ 23 goals on the month.

Beck began the month with his first two goals of the season as part of a three-point effort in a 7-1 win over San Antonio on Nov. 2. He matched a career high with four points (one goal, three assists) to help Bakersfield past Texas, 5-3, on Nov. 5, earning a recall to the parent Edmonton Oilers. Back with the Condors on Nov. 12, Beck scored twice in regulation and assisted on the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over Tucson. He scored again in a 3-1 win over San Jose on Nov. 22, and closed out the month with a goal and an assist in the Condors’ 3-2 overtime loss to San Diego on Nov. 26.

A sixth-year pro from St. Catharines, Ont., Beck is currently tied for fourth in the AHL scoring race with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 14 games for Bakersfield. He has totaled 68 goals and 116 assists for 184 points in 257 career AHL games with Bakersfield, Bridgeport, San Antonio and Milwaukee, as well as 11 goals and 12 assists in 88 National Hockey League contests with Edmonton, the New York Islanders and Nashville. Beck, who was selected by the Predators in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, signed as a free agent with the Oilers on July 3, 2016.

Perlini, the CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month, scored nine goals and added three assists for 12 points in nine games during November, helping the Roadrunners stay atop the Pacific Division.

Perlini notched points in seven consecutive games from Nov. 4 to Nov. 27, including a six-game goal-scoring streak that matched the longest by an AHL rookie since Tyler Johnson scored in nine straight contests in March 2012. Perlini recorded his first two-goal game as a pro on Nov. 5, helping Tucson to a 5-4 overtime victory over Ontario, then had the game-winning goal in a 3-0 victory at Bakersfield on Nov. 11. He scored again as the Roadrunners erased a two-goal third-period deficit to earn a point in a 3-2 OT loss to the Condors on Nov. 12, and picked up two goals and an assist in a 5-2 victory over Manitoba on Nov. 18. Perlini notched a second straight two-goal outing vs. Stockton on Nov. 26, and finished his streak with a goal and an assist in a 5-4 win over the Heat on Nov. 27.

Perlini, a 20-year-old native of Guildford, England, was the 12th overall pick by Arizona in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He currently leads all AHL skaters with 11 goals and is tied for third among league rookies with 16 points in 14 games for Tucson. Perlini spent the previous four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with Barrie and Niagara.

Saros, the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month, was a perfect 5-0-0 in November with a 1.37 goals-against average, a .955 save percentage and one shutout for Milwaukee, allowing just seven goals on 156 total shots.

Saros began the month with a 27-save effort in a 3-2 shootout victory over Chicago on Nov. 4, then stopped 29 of 32 shots in a 5-3 victory over Iowa on Nov. 5. He earned his first shutout of the season with 35 saves in a 1-0 win at Cleveland on Nov. 17, and followed that up with 30 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Monsters on Nov. 19. Saros made 28 saves as Milwaukee defeated Grand Rapids, 3-1, on Nov. 23, then earned his second recall of the month to Nashville where he allowed one goal and earned third-star honors in a game at Winnipeg on Nov. 27.

A 21-year-old native of Forssa, Finland, Saros (9-1-0, 1.59, .945) is tied for the AHL lead in wins and ranks first in both goals-against average and save percentage over 10 appearances with Milwaukee this season. He is also 1-1-0 with a 1.02 GAA and a .965 save percentage in two NHL starts with Nashville. Saros, a fourth-round pick by the Predators in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2015-16 and is now 38-9-0 with a 2.10 GAA, a .926 save percentage and five shutouts in 48 career AHL appearances.

Each monthly award winner will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming home game in recognition of his achievement.

Saros started half the games the Admirals played in November. He won every start and it came with some up-and-down time with the Nashville Predators, as well. All that activity didn’t throw him off because when he was in net he was solid: 1.37 goals against average, 0.954 save percentage, and earned his first shutout of the season while making his return to the Admirals after an eleven day long layoff between in-game appearances in a 1-0 win on the road against the defending Calder Cup champs – the Cleveland Monsters.

For those wondering. This isn’t the first AHL monthly award for Saros. In his North American pro debut season last year he won this very same award for his efforts in March. In that time he played in eight of fourteen games, held a record in net of 7-1-0-0, 1.61 goals against average, 0.936 save percentage, and 2 shutouts.

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 News | 1 Comment

Fifteen with Alex Carrier

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

The 2016-17 season of Fifteen started with a familiar face in Anthony Bitetto. This season though there are plenty of new faces and stories to be had. Among them, and shining brightly to begin his professional playing career, has been defenseman Alex Carrier. He was just named Admirals Roundtable’s Admiral of the Month for November. It seemed fitting then to get him featured in the latest installment and get to know the 20-year old Québec native that much better.

Carrier just so happens to come from a solid hockey family. His father, Bernard, played junior hockey with the Québec Remparts and Drummondville Voltigeurs in the mid-80’s. His older brother, Samuel, also played his trade in the QMJHL. Samuel, who is four-years older than Alex, played for: Québec Remparts, Lewiston MAINEiacs, Baie-Comeau Drakkar, and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Samuel was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Draft. The following season Samuel’s junior career took him to Baie-Comeau where he crossed paths with an eventual teammate of Alex’s by the name of Félix Girard. All three hockey players of the Carrier family were defenseman.

Traveling the same path, Carrier also found himself staying in his native Québec to play junior hockey. He was selected fourth overall by Gatineau Olympiques in the 2012 QMJHL Entry Draft and wound up enjoying a solid four-year junior playing career with the Gatineau organization where, in three of his four year junior career, he was named as an alternate captain.

Carrier was selected in the fourth round by the Nashville Predators in the 2015 NHL Draft – following in his older brother’s footsteps a mere five years later. In Carrier’s career with Gatineau he logged 242 games of junior playing experience, totaled 137 points (29 goals, 108 assists), 171 penalty minutes, and a plus/minus rating of +69.

When Carrier made his arrival to the pro scene he did so in the late goings of the Milwaukee Admirals 2015-16 season. He was able to get a look around, experience a taste of the pro lifestyle, skated around in practice a touch, but never took to the ice for a game. The game action would need to wait for his first-pro season in 2016-17. So far? He’s turned heads for not looking much like a first-year pro at all.

It might have taken a few games to get the comfort level going. It also may have taken the Predators recalling Matt Irwin and the Admirals acquiring veteran defenseman Adam Pardy. But Carrier’s become an instant hit across all three areas on the ice from the Admirals blueline and has made the transition from juniors to the AHL look rather seamless.

We are now into the December portion of the calendar. Carrier has played in every game this season for the Admirals and has registered 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) in 17 games with 8 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of +10. Carrier did the majority of that offensive damage this past month while the Admirals went 8-0-1-1 in November. Yet, as nice as his offense has been it has just been the calmness on and off the puck that leaps out the most to his game. He can join the rush. He can leap up from the blueline and act as a fourth forward in the attacking zone. And, best of all, can stay true to his job title and really play a confident defensive game.

It’s always a great surprise and joy seeing first year pros such as a Carrier adapt so well so fast. And, if anything, the pro experience away from the rink is made better by the people he finds himself now surrounded by in the Admirals locker room – the French Fries. The recent influx of Québec players coming through Milwaukee has created a fun stir. The personalities such as the aforementioned Girard, Jimmy OlignyJonathan Diaby, and Frédérick Gaudreau are infectious to be around but they are also good people that commit themselves to being professional hockey players. Carrier, as well as Anthony Richard, effectively get to step into their first year pro season with a nice piece of home surrounding them.

There is plenty more to come from Carrier. He’s only just beginning his professional playing career. As he continues to get more and more comfortable in-game his natural maturity off the ice should start being made even more apparent on it. He’s a good one. And, now, I offer up his Fifteen interview as further evidence of that.

Thank you so much to Alex Carrier for taking the time yesterday to provide that interview. As said above, this is a new season with plenty more players and stories to be shared. Who would you like to hear from in the upcoming installments of Fifteen? Please share you recommendations in the comment section below.

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 Chatterbox, Feature | Leave a comment

Chatterbox, Vol. 159

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

#StickTaps to Adam Pardy who has signed an NHL contract this morning with the Nashville Predators. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

Today’s plan of attack was a simple one. Attend practice and then gather up some new Fifteen interviews in prep for all the road hockey that the Milwaukee Admirals have in front of them in the month of December. Today’s plan after seeing Miikka Salomäki on the ice for the Admirals at the MSOE Kern Center? A bit different.

There are a few notes then that need to be made. Salomäki has been assigned to the Admirals from the Nashville Predators on a two-week (fourteen consecutive days) conditioning assignment. He will be wearing his traditional #20 for the Admirals and will be back in action this weekend when the Admirals battle the Cleveland Monsters on the road Friday and Saturday.

The other news that came about while watching practice was that defenseman Adam Pardy was placed on waivers. The reason being has more to do with the following news. Pardy was signed to an NHL contract by the Nashville Predators this morning. Pardy was acquired by the Admirals earlier this season from the Springfield Falcons in exchange for Eric Robinson, Teddy Doherty, and Brandon Whitney. He was under an AHL contract. He is now contracted to the Predators.

As far as what I saw at practice for the Admirals today it was generally a split squad type of day with a mixture of special teams drills, some rush work, quick tempo clearing the zone, and a shootout drill. There wasn’t too much to note there then so let’s shift back to those notes once again.

Salomäki has been on the mend after blocking a shot with his hand topside with the Predators. He has in recent times been getting back to practicing with the team. This spurt with the Admirals should get his game sharpness back. With a hand injury you’d be able to do a fair amount of conditioning work but there is a difference between that and playing full-bore hockey the way that Salomäki does. Getting him back to match fitness is really all that the Predators will be looking for and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back with the Predators following the Admirals two-game stint in Cleveland this weekend. They’re going to be grinding style games, Salomäki style games, and he should be ready after that. He can of course go for longer if required but I don’t see that happening.

Pardy’s news today is a good one. You really can never have too much veteran defensive depth in the system. Should the Predators get into a tougher spot they now have a veteran who has 338 games of NHL experience under his belt to come in, fill a role, and look the part if needed. He’s done a terrific job since arriving to the Admirals organization. His defensive partnership with first-year pro Alex Carrier has been outstanding. That relationship, on and off the ice, has also showed the character that Pardy is as a leader and someone there to help teach up a student such as Carrier. Pardy plugged into the Admirals quickly and him getting the NHL contract that alluded him with the Florida Panthers earlier in the year is just nice to see.

Speaking of Carrier. That’s the lone man I was able to grab for an upcoming edition of Fifteen that will run tomorrow as we welcome in December. There is a good story to this as well. My plans today obviously changed with all the news. I gave some tip-offs to guys that I wanted to chat with including Carrier who would be doing the feature interview. It just so happened that Carrier was bumped from doing it not just once (Pardy) not just twice (Salomäki) but three times (construction noise). Massive apologies to him -but- he’s a great sport and provided a great interview. You’ll hear it tomorrow. Hopefully it, such as the following, isn’t hindered too much by UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena construction background noise… it was as if they were unearthing dinosaur bones from deep beneath the North side of the Arena today.

The on-the-fly Chatterbox today includes Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Pardy and Salomäki. Here were today’s interviews following Wednesday’s practice.

Comments on the comments from today? What do you think about the Nashville Predators decision to sign Adam Pardy to an NHL contract?

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 Chatterbox | 1 Comment

Learning and Building from Within

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

Frédérick Gaudreau recorded his first career NHL point in last night’s 5-3 win for the Nashville Predators on the road against the Colorado Avalanche. He’s now scored in the organization at all three levels. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The Road to Nashville Goes Through Milwaukee. That’s a slogan that has been sign posted around the Milwaukee Admirals for a long time now. Yet, it’s a slogan built upon a solid foundation of a proven developmental process that the Nashville Predators have continually built from since their arrival to the NHL scene. The Predators and Admirals work in concert. And some of the recent talent coming through the pipeline have featured some of the best examples of the organization’s scouting and developmental process at work.

At the point in which I write this a little Swede by the name of Viktor Arvidsson isn’t all that little anymore. Not to the fans in Nashville. Not to the fans of the NHL. He is a relentless on-ice worker who displays as much heart as he does skill – and goodness is he skilled. It didn’t take long for Arvidsson to show just what he is capable of in North America when he debuted with the Admirals at the AHL level. But this was a player that slipped through the cracks of the NHL Draft not once, not even twice, but three times. And it only took that debut season of 2014-15 to make people such as myself wonder just why the heck that was the case.

Arvidsson has skills for days. He ended up claiming a few more mentions in that year’s Best Goal of the Season, as well. He’s a highlight reel level player. More than that though, which by now Nashville fans easily identify with him, he never stops working when he is on the ice. When Arvidsson first arrived to Milwaukee in 2014 he arrived already with the presence and maturity you would expect of a pro. He was a constant in the Admirals weight room during the season and continually pushed himself for more. He ended that first pro season in North America as the Admirals leading scorer with 55 points (22 goals, 33 assists) in 70 games.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

With how the depth is in the organization now having NHL level consistency is key for the Predators when it comes to seeing their lower line forwards playing a polished two-way game. When Arvidsson has a slow start last season he found himself back with the Admirals. Once you’ve had a taste of where you want to be, the NHL, it isn’t always the easiest to end up back where you climbed up from in the AHL. That said, the Admirals have been stockpiling talent that the Predators have drafted in recent years and it creates an environment that can really help springboard players right back to where they want to be. All that’s needed is the effort in response to being reassigned back to Milwaukee. And if there is anything that Arvidsson consistently delivers – it is effort. That’s probably why he delivered an AHL best thirteen game point streak upon his return to the Admirals before eventually finding himself in the situation he remains in today.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

This springboard effect can be seen in a few situations in both current or past examples. Austin Watson started his season after having cleared waivers and ending up back with the Admirals in the AHL. He played in three games, scored a goal, got in a scrap, and was recalled once the Predators experienced a battle with food poisoning. He hasn’t returned. And hasn’t looked like a player that should: 18 games, 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists), plus/minus rating of +5, and 19 penalty minutes which stem from from three fighting majors. That was a short-term bounce back and a recent example. What of Filip Forsberg in the 2013-14 season? He was 19-years old at the time he turned up in Milwaukee and the aim was simply to find consistency in play, offensively and defensively, over the course of sixty-minutes of hockey. Forsberg played 47 games in the AHL that season, scored 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists), and experienced a playoff run with the Admirals for good measure. The next season he stuck to the NHL and contributed 63 points (26 goals, 37 assists) in 82 games.

The model for success and how to do it is there. And it’s a very simple one: Work hard. The Predators organization is one that really does reward effort that gets put in from the players that fight for it. Case and point examples can come in the form of two players that were recalled during this recent road trip by the Predators. And those two players weren’t even drafted by them.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

Mike Liambas earned his first career recall during the Predators recent two game road trip. He didn’t suit up for a game but the sheer fact that he was recalled says enough. Liambas was someone who not too many years ago may only have been known for a hit against Ben Fanelli in a game in the OHL that saw Fanelli fracture his skull and Liambas receive a season-long suspension that ended his junior playing career. One bad moment doesn’t define the man. A professional career that sees him currently holding 99 fighting majors in the AHL and ECHL during regular season play doesn’t also define his playing ability. Liambas’ time spent with the Admirals from 2013-2015 saw him make massive strides in his all-around playing ability. Throughout his own developmental process though he was always a fantastic locker room presence and the sort of spirited on-ice leader that could make the likes of Pekka Rinne blush (audio). He wears an “A” on the front of his jersey this season because the locker room voted for him to wear it. His recall wasn’t a simple pat on the back for service time it came because of his tireless on-ice work and dedication to improving himself and those around him. Liambas earned that recall. And the Predators rewarded his hard work.

As for the other name that was recalled, and just so happen to play in both games during the Predators road tip, I feel the need to share a story.

When I was waiting to conduct interviews following the Admirals exhibition game at the MSOE Kern Center prior to the start of the 2015-16 season I was approached by one of the players in passing. “Hey, it is really nice to see you again,” he said before patting me on the shoulder and walking off to do post-game cool down work outs. It was Frédérick Gaudreau and, after all the chatter post-game was done, I quickly looked back to see if I had even spoken to him during the whole of the 2014-15 season where he had split time between the Admirals in the AHL and Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. It turns out that I actually did… once… in December of that year… he still had 14 games of ECHL hockey awaiting him from that moment.

Why I bring that up is to speak to the incredibly humble nature of Gaudreau. He truly appreciates the moment and is as genuinely as nice of a person as you would come across in the game. The path that he’s been on only makes you smile that much more given the success he has been finding.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Gaudreau spent three-solid seasons in the QMJHL where he played mainly with the Shawinigan but finished his junior playing career off with Drummondville. He played 195 games, scored 134 points (50 goals, 84 assists), won the CHL Memorial Cup in 2012, and was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the QMJHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player in the 2013-14 season. He was never drafted. He instead found himself signing an AHL contract with the Admirals in the 2014 off-season and his first professional season had him in-and-out of the lineup as well as up-and-down between leagues. Between the Admirals and Cyclones that first pro season he scored 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists) in 57 games. He would show up the next season in Milwaukee, wish a reporter who didn’t even know exactly who he was at the time the very best, and proceed to force the Admirals parent club’s hand into signing him to an NHL contract.

I’m entering my fifth season working around the Admirals organization. This is my fourth season as Editor-in-Chief of Admirals Roundtable. There are two players who I take great pride in seeing wear Predators colors: Anthony Bitetto and Gaudreau. Why? Because they 100% show that the developmental system in place works from ECHL to AHL to NHL and it works whether you were drafted or undrafted. There is something special that the Predators have in place system wide when it comes to getting the most out of the right players. Bitetto and Gaudreau are those such players. People who worked hard no matter what circumstance they found themselves in and each have managed to be rewarded for doing exactly that. Cincinnati to Milwaukee to Nashville.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

When Gaudreau happened to earn his first career NHL point as a secondary assist last night I received a comment wondering if I had a tear in my eye from that moment. I’d never go that far but whenever I see members of the Admirals go up and find success at the NHL level that they’ve been fighting so hard for it makes me smile. Again, in this organization it is very much opportunity earned and reward earned and deserved. I imagine in that moment and into the coming days Gaudreau’s teammates both in Nashville and Milwaukee have to be over the Moon for him knowing the path he traveled had that culminated in that moment though. That’s the fun of getting to see life from the AHL level, as well. You get to experience moments that on the surface can be so small, just playing a single game – just 8:27 of ice-time, but for someone the likes of a Mark Van Guilder who battled so long to get there. Even in that instance it was opportunity earned and reward earned. Last night for Gaudreau? Much the same. It’s earned.

There are so many stories such as an Arvidsson, Liambas, or Gaudreau just waiting to surface. The beauty I find in the Predators developmental process is that they actually can surface and succeed. The structure across the organization from ECHL to AHL allows for NHL success. All that is truly required for one to make it under the Predators banner is a commitment to hard work. When looking at how this year’s Admirals team has been competing you find nothing but exactly that. The process is working. And it yields results across the board.

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 | 1 Comment

Roundtable Mailbag

Cliche photo of mail spilling out of a bag for a mail bag column. (Photo Credit: Google Image Search)

Your Questions. My Answers. Let’s go through some mail, shall we?

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good mailbag column here at Admirals Roundtable. And, seeing as the Milwaukee Admirals are on a bit of a break from game action before packing up and getting a four game road trip started, I think the time to open the mailbag back up is now.

What is the strongest focus overall, I know it is a mixed package ultimately, that a player should have to be a big benefit for a team…skating, puck handling ect ~Michelle

I think it is the variety of skill sets that everyone has that ends up making the strongest team. That diversity in a group is key.  With how the game is being played today though I think that speed and two-way ability across the ice is one of the most important things to really making it from one level to the next.

Filip Forsberg spent 47 games and the playoffs with the Admirals during the 2013-14 season essentially to find consistency in his two-way ability – especially making sure he has detail to his defending. Look who he was then, look at what that time and learning did for him, and look at the confidence in all-around ability he now shows.

So, you’re right. It is a mixed bag of tricks that all are needed. In that I suppose, at the AHL level, it is finding consistency in those skill sets and consistency over time: shift by shift, game by game, etc.

What’s the best goal celebration you’ve seen this year? Who has had the best goal thus far this season? Do you think Richard has improved from his short time in Cinci? Does who deserves the spot in Nashville: Saros or Maz? ~Jamie

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

My favorite goal celebration of this season so far was captured brilliantly by photographer Sara Stathas on the Admirals first school day game of the season. When Alex Carrier scored the game-winner in overtime you just see the genuine shock and joy. After that game when I spoke with him he had said that he didn’t even know the shot went in until the crowd erupted. That game already had so much electricity. It was an Amtrak Rivalry game. There were some ups and downs to the game itself. And throughout it all you had that noisy school crowd packing in UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Once that goal was scored the building roared and Carrier’s celly mirrored the elation of the moment. Loved it.

The best goal that I’ve seen scored this season, truthfully, probably that exact same moment: Carrier’s game winning overtime goal (video). The Admirals haven’t quite had highlight reel level goals yet this season. The talent is there for them. They’ve just had some straight forward or gritty goals to this point. I did love the recent howitzer goal by Trevor Murphy. But the speed, toe-drag, and release on Carrier’s goal against the Wolves to win it in OT was pretty spectacular.

(Photo Credit: Cincinnati Cyclones)

(Photo Credit: Cincinnati Cyclones)

It was only two games but I do think there is something to be said -even then- about Anthony Richard getting to play more with the Cincinnati Cyclones. He has a ton of speed and skill. It just hasn’t all clicked just yet at the AHL level and it has him a bit down on a very stacked totem pole is all. That said, a player has to play games – especially so young in their development becoming a pro. To go from limited minutes in the AHL to top line sort of minutes in the ECHL is just the sort of thing to re-energize a player and give them the boost and confidence they need when they get the recall back. Carrier scored a goal and an assist in his first ECHL game, both firsts in his pro career, and he has looked a touch sharper since. Both he and Justin Kirkland were great scorers in juniors. Once they produce for the Admirals I think it can let them drop the shoulders a bit more and just start working harder and let the game come more naturally. Pressure to match what was at the junior level instantly at the pro level does happen. These are two really skilled players, though. They’re just settling in.

Oh, dear. The “Juuse Saros or Marek Mazanec” question is becoming the new “when can we have Kevin Fiala” question… which was the new “is Forsberg ready yet” question. For those wondering, Mazanec is the man for the back-up job this season and he is because he not only was the more affordable option on an open market but he also put service time in developmental to earn the spot. There is something to be said and to be proud of about promoting players such as Mazanec from within. His lone issue so far this season has been his inconsistency which I think just so happens to coincide with the fact that he also happens to play inconsistently in net.

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

Saros has been amazing. He really has. He is also showing just how mentally strong he is for such a young age given all this up-down-and-around drama this season hasn’t really hindered his efforts when he goes in net for either the Admirals or the Predators. He is going to be fantastic for the Predators not just in the future but in the very near future. The catch here is – he should be playing, learning, and playing a lot right now. I would think the Predators would prefer to see how Saros handles a full work load as a first-choice goaltender at the AHL level this season rather than throw him up and down repeatedly while wasting game time in his developmental process. As much as everyone in Nashville would like to have him -NOW- how much is he supposed to honestly play in the NHL right now or even next season? I get that some strain off of Pekka Rinne would be a good thing but even this season that isn’t exactly being shown to be the case as to how the team proceeds and they have a goaltender further along in his developmental process backing him up already – and he is sort of hurting because of how infrequently he even sees the net. Mazanec and Saros might be two completely different people, players, and have different approaches to games and situations – but fundamentally Rinne will handle an immense work load for the Predators and the back-up is sort of just stuck in a prone position anxiously wondering, “when do I ever get to play?”

Would it have made more sense for the Predators to go and get a veteran goaltender to serve as back-up to Rinne this season? Possibly, but there is a cost to doing that and it was one that the Predators felt better to just give Mazanec his due all while not paying a premium for someone who won’t see much action. This scenario could change right in the middle of this current season or for next season if the Predators view it to be such an issue. Again, I think ideally Saros should be playing a workhorse role for the Admirals this season to gain what the experience of being first-choice goalie in North America is like. Instead, it is all incredibly up in the air. It’s workable in the short term as Saros gets a glance at life in the NHL, practicing with NHL talent, and learning from watching Rinne from afar. Mazanec gets to log games for the Admirals and get back in form. I just don’t think this helps anyone in the long term. Inconsistency breeds inconsistency.

I know coach likes the new barn, what do the players think? Getting used to the ice, new locker room, noise level, etc. ~Larry

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The response I’ve gathered from the players is universally positive. That comes from those who experienced life at the BLO Harris Bradley Center or some of those experiencing the AHL for the first go-round this season at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. It is an Arena with such a great history about it. There is a character and a charm about it. And, above all, the Admirals really can call this there home and have probably practiced at the building more this season -already- than all of last season by a good margin. It makes for such a better comfort level. The locker room facilities being as nice as they are encourage players to show up early and stick around later to just hang out – which creates a positive working atmosphere and stronger team bond. Then, come game time, the fans are piled on the action that much more and the roof is lower. The buzz and noise going on during a game has just been amplified. It’s just another thing the players notice and appreciate.

Why the switch back to the ball and glove logo this year on the jerseys? ~Justin

This is one of the first things I caught this season. While I can’t definitively say why it was the case, after a season in which the Milwaukee Brewers more current logo was in use, I do think it is a case of the Brewers moving towards that logo. It isn’t just the ol’ retro ball and glove it is the alternate version introduced at Spring Training last season that stuck around as an alternate. It’s not only now on the Admirals uniforms but the Brewers advertising banners on the boards around the rink, as well. I’m not sure if that is a sign of an upcoming full change in the near future or simply a direction they wanted to go with on the Admirals side of things. My guess is they have a minor rebranding in the works.

Have further questions? Ask away and I shall update this story with your question and a response.

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 Ramblings | Leave a comment

Admiral of the Month: November

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

Happy Monday, everyone. I know this is a monthly award and the month isn’t over yet but it is as far as games for the Milwaukee Admirals are concerned. They played ten games during this month, went to overtime in seven of those games, required a shootout from two of -those-games, and wound up never losing a single game in regulation for a 8-0-1-1 record.

It has to be said then that this isn’t the easiest task to select a solitary figure from the Admirals this month. The entire group was what worked so well. All games played in November were high character games with solid team performances being the shining element on a nightly basis. It is this character that is seeing them -as of today- holding to the top record in the AHL based on points percentage: 12-2-2-1 (27 points, 0.794 points percentage).

Our choice for Admiral of the Month could therefore go to darn near anyone, really. But that just would be too easy. I feel I’ve narrowed it down to three choices: Alex Carrier, Juuse Saros, and Matt White. It speaks volumes to me that the top three candidates just so happen to all come from the different positions on the ice: forward, defenseman, and goaltender. These three all did such a stellar job. So let’s talk about all three because at the very least the two odd men out deserve the Admirable Mention.

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

Carrier’s first pro season to this point has been a remarkable one, already. As of today he is currently the second highest scoring rookie defenseman in the AHL behind Kyle Wood of the Tucson Roadrunners. But, comparing the two, Carrier game isn’t all about his 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) of offense but it is also his defensive effort that complements it. Carrier has a plus/minus rating of +10 which is +9 up on Tucson’s Wood. It’s really been Carrier’s instant chemistry with veteran defenseman Adam Pardy that seems to have seen him take an even further step out of the blocks. Since Pardy’s arrival via trade from the Springfield Falcons on 10/24/16 the two have basically been attached at the hip in-game. Carrier only had an assist prior to Pardy’s arrival. Carrier has since shot out of a cannon and displayed great two-way ability.

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

I’m beginning to run out of superlatives when it comes to Saros. So, here it goes. The month of November saw Saros start in net for five of the Admirals ten games. He did this with some here-and-there call ups to the Nashville Predators as Marek Mazanec floated down-up-and-down. How did he do in those starts for the Admirals? He won all of them and had a 1.37 goals against average, 0.954 save percentage, and earned a shutout in his return to the team after an eleven day long layoff between in-game appearances in a 1-0 win on the road against the Cleveland Monsters. Saros is the top goalie in the AHL right now by way of wins (9), goals against average (1.59), and save percentage (0.945). Saros is 21-years old and only in the beginning stage of his North American development. This is him while he is learning. He is a truly special prospect.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

I’m not all that sure who was responsible for healthy scratching White from the first three games of the Admirals season but I do know they are going to be hard pressed into doing it ever again. White’s performance this entire season since finally getting to game action has actually made me wonder just what on Earth took the rest of the AHL so long to give him his due. White played 158 games in the ECHL over the course of three-seasons until the Admirals brought him on-board as a PTO signing a season ago. He did so well so fast that he ended up signing a two-year contract with the Admirals in a shade under two months. They knew they had something. And White responded. Last season White scored 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 54 games with the Admirals. Not bad for a guy who originally showed up on PTO basis, right? This season White already has 15 points (7 goals, 8 assist) in 14 games. He is yet another one of these high energy, high work rate, never takes a shift off and works all three-zones well types of players that have come through the organization in recent years despite flying under the radar. His surge this season, all be it purely on left wing, reminds me a ton of how well Frédérick Gaudreau played. Look where Gaudreau was this time last season and now look where he is today. White’s month of November saw him score a point in every game but two yet he still put a clip up of 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 10 games. He has been operating on such an extremely high level and is yet another reminder of what solid depth the Admirals have in its locker room right now.

So, who deserves it the most? This is as agonizingly close of a call as I’ve had to make but time after time I’ve given this player praise throughout the month of November and it is hard for me to not cement that here. Admirals Roundtable’s Admiral of the Month for November is Alex Carrier.

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

I’ve said time after time that Carrier doesn’t look or play like a first-year pro. I’ve also been caught out on a number of times mesmerized watching Carrier’s work rate which I’m just not used to seeing so often from a defenseman in Milwaukee – but I am used to seeing it from several defensemen in Nashville. His skating ability allows for him to really cruise around the ice and act almost as a fourth forward at times. I know Nashville enjoys seeing defensemen be active and really pinch but Carrier can take that a step further and wire around the net at times on the puck and keep creating offensively all while having an active presence of his defensive responsibilities, He plays at a high pace but also with a very calm approach. He doesn’t look flustered at all. And I feel, as far as his development is concerned, he is benefiting all the more by his partnership with Pardy. He looked great when I saw him this Summer at Nashville’s Rookie Development Camp. He looked good early here in Milwaukee. And now he’s looking stunning with every passing game that he seems to get under his belt.

~Admiral of the Month Award~

October: Juuse Saros
November: Alex Carrier

Who do you feel was the top performer for the Milwaukee Admirals during the month of October? Was it Carrier, Saros, White or someone else? Tell me who your Admiral of the Month was in the comment section below.

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 | 1 Comment

Chatterbox, Vol. 158

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

It wasn’t a win but it was another game that saw the Milwaukee Admirals in circumstances where they could have easily gotten down on themselves and conceded early as well as late in the game. There was so much roster activity yesterday that the true test last night might have come less in the form of the Manitoba Moose and more in the form of the ability of the coaching staff and veteran leadership group to stay the course. It wasn’t a win, true, but the Admirals made it to overtime to earn yet another point.

The month of November for the Admirals is now over. They played a total of ten games and never lost a single game in regulation: 8-0-1-1. The five game winning streak that they had did come to an end in the overtime loss to the Moose -but- it being an overtime loss still meant that the point streak would continue. That is now eleven games strong. The last time that the Admirals lost in regulation was the home opener on October 29th. If that isn’t crazy enough – take into account how last year’s team and this year’s team have performed in the month of November: 19-1-1-1 combined record.

What I take from this start by the Admirals is that a foundation is being set. The times in which the team faces stretches of adversity and losing consecutive games in regulation will come. Lessons will be learned from those times, for sure, but the core of what this year’s Admirals are capable of being is showing through early in this 2016-17 season by virtue of how adaptable, resilient, and composed the group can be.

Lastly, the Admirals overtime loss last night did see them take a point. The rest of the league was in action last night, as well. The result? Your Milwaukee Admirals currently have the best record based on points percentage (0.794) in the entire AHL right now. How about that? It’s still early. It is. This run that the Admirals have been on though is still impressive to say the least.

After last night’s game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Trevor Murphy, Jonas Gunnarsson, and Cody Bass. These were their comments following the 4-3 shootout loss to the Moose at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

Comments on the comments? Thinking of last night, and the food poisoning game that also saw the Admirals lose but claim a point in the process, what do we think of the Milwaukee Admirals ability to play when circumstances outside of their control stretch the roster thin?

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 Chatterbox | 1 Comment

Point Streak Hits Eleven; Ads Lose 4-3 in OT

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 4-3 in overtime against the Manitoba Moose Saturday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

This result ends the Admirals five game winning streak but a two-goal performance from Trevor Murphy meant they pushed for overtime to extend the point streak to eleven straight games. The Admirals end the month of November with a record of 8-0-1-1.

It feels like it doesn’t happen enough but the Admirals were the first ones on the board tonight. It took the Admirals less than five minutes tonight to get a goal as opposed to the final five last night and the man scoring was recently added Cody Bass. The veteran forward stepped in down the right wing, measured his shot, and wired a wrister over the blocker of Eric Comrie that went bardown for his first goal of the season and first scored with the Admirals since 3/26/16 on the road against the Texas Stars.

Unfortunately the first period did end on a sour note. A clutch keep in at the blue line allowed a sustained attack for the Moose and eventually a goal to level the terms at 1-1. Dan DeSalvo was able to sneak a puck past Admirals starter on the night Jonas Gunnarsson to record his fourth goal of the season.

On that goal for the Moose it appeared as though Trevor Murphy has an injury scare regarding his left foot. He left the first period a few seconds early before the intermission horn sounded and was followed by Admirals head athletic trainer Doug Agnew. It must have been just a scare because he returned to the second period and ended up scoring his first goal of the season to make it a 2-1 game. Murphy put a wrister on net from the center point and it buzzed through a ton of traffic to catch Comrie unaware.

This topsy-turvy game would see yet another response from the Moose. Early in the third period Jack Roslovic was able to deflect a long range shot taken by Nelson Nogier from the right point. The puck changed directions from just in front of the net to allude Gunnarsson and make it a 2-2 game from Roslovic’s fourth goal of the season.

The Moose would claim their first lead of the game with a power-play goal at the midway point of the third period. Jimmy Oligny was forced into a hooking call to keep J.C. Lipon from blazing past him at the Admirals attacking blueline and it gave the Moose their third crack at the Admirals penalty kill. After a quick low to high cycle a shot by defenseman Kevin Czuczman elevated hard enough to beat Gunnarsson over his blocker-side shoulder and in to record his third tally of the season and second scored on the power-play to make it a 3-2 Moose lead.

It just wouldn’t be an Admirals game without a comeback bid. This one didn’t take as long as most. Murphy seemed to unleash all of the fury into the known universe into a slap shot from the high left wing circle and it looked like the net almost lifted off its moorings. The goal for Murphy was his second of the night and season and it made it 3-3. The Moose had their one-goal lead for 2:31 of ice time.

This game would need overtime to decide it. As it happens, that’s all that would be needed tonight unlike last night and the Admirals really never saw puck possession during the three-on-three period. Chase De Leo marked his return to the Moose by netting the game-winner in overtime. His wrister beat Gunnarsson’s glove high into the top shelf for his fourth goal of the season.

The Admirals are now on the road for the next four games where they will get a dose of the Cleveland Monsters twice, Iowa Wild, and then the Grand Rapids Griffins. They next return home to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Saturday December 10th when the Chicago Wolves arrive for the next installment of the Amtrak Rivalry.

Ramblings: Today saw a frenzy of roster activity following the news that the Nashville Predators would be without James Neal, Colton Sissons, and Ryan Ellis for their upcoming two game road trip. This saw a mass recall from the Milwaukee Admirals that included: Kevin Fiala, Frédérick Gaudreau, Mike Liambas, and Petter Granberg. The Admirals recalled Anthony Richard and Jonathan Diaby from their ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones. The Admirals then brought Tylor Spink aboard on loan from the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. Today’s NHL recall for Liambas was the first of his career. It was the second career NHL recall for Gaudreau.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? How do you feel the Milwaukee Admirals played tonight in the face off all the roster moves today? Are we beginning to like what we see in Jonas Gunnarsson?

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 | 3 Comments

Tylor Spink Added on Loan to the Admirals

(Photo Credit: Bob Cornell // Colgate Athletic Communications)

One of these two is Tylor Spink. And the other is Tyson. (Photo Credit: Bob Cornell // Colgate Athletic Communications)

I was beginning to question whether or not tonight’s game for the Milwaukee Admirals would be played one man short after all the roster moves that have taken place today. Thankfully, the final piece to the puzzle has just been found and found in a player who was around for Nashville Predators Pre-Season Rookie Camp and Admirals Training Camp: Tylor Spink.

Tylor, and his twin brother Tyson, were both on hand for pre-season activities within the organization but are under contract to the Toledo Walleye. This season in the ECHL Tylor has produced 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) in 17 games.

This move is a loan deal between the Admirals and Toledo Walleye that should function in the short term as the Admirals primarily need his services for just tonight’s game. After tonight the Admirals next game is six-days away so one would hope the organization’s quick flare up of injuries would cool down. Tonight’s effort by the Admirals should be a true test of its coaching staff and veteran leadership group – all of whom thankfully weren’t recalled by the Nashville Predators today.

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 News | 1 Comment

Nashville Recall Four from Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

According to AHL Transactions the Nashville Predators have recalled Kevin Fiala, Frédérick Gaudreau, Mike Liambas, and Petter Granberg from the Milwaukee Admirals. The Predators play tomorrow afternoon on the road against the Winnipeg Jets. Both teams AHL affiliates play tonight in Milwaukee.

This is the first career NHL recall for Liambas. The 27-year old Woodbridge, Ontario native has played 157 career games with the Admirals over the course of four seasons scoring 18 points (10 goals, 8 assists). He ranks third in the AHL era of the Admirals with 528 penalty minutes.

Fiala was assigned to the Admirals back on 11/8/16. He has since produced 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) in 7 games with a total of 16 penalty minutes. For Gaudreau this is his second career NHL recall. He was brought up during the food poisoning scene up in Nashville and ended up making his NHL debut with the Predators during a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. This season Gaudreau has scored 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 15 games while operating in all facets of the game at forward.

Granberg was acquired by the Predators last season off of waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. He started his 2015-16 season with a conditioning assignment with the Admirals but spent the rest of his time at the NHL level where he logged 27 games with the Predators. He started this season down at the AHL level and has played 16 games with the Admirals on a shutdown defensive pairing with Jimmy Oligny.

According to Adam Vingan of The Tennessean the Predators will be without James Neal, Colton Sissons, and Ryan Ellis due to upper-body injuries for their upcoming two game road trip that will see them play against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow afternoon and the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. After today’s contest for the Admirals they will next play on Friday when they take to the road for the first of a four game road trip.

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 News | Leave a comment