The Milwaukee Admirals' season has finally begun, and the results have been decent. Milwaukee has recorded a point in all four of their contests, with a record of 2-0-2. Their record currently has them sitting seventh in the Western Conference at this very early stage.
Ads Drop Home Opener in OT
The home campaign kicked off on Saturday, more than a week after the season opener up in Abbotsford. Each and every one of the games has been incredibly close, all being decided by only one goal. The two loser point games both ended in overtime, one of which being the game this weekend.
Despite falling behind 2-0 around the midpoint of the second period, and being totally dominated in the first half of the game, the momentum swung back to the home team thanks to sparks raised by physical play and special teams. This culminated in a beautiful top shelf goal by Mathieu Tousignant to cut the lead in half before the second period came to a close.
Once again the special teams unit left its mark in the third, as Simon Moser scored to tie things up seven minutes into the frame. The Admirals had plenty of opportunities to take the lead in the third, especially due to three straight penalties on the Wolves (two of which lead to a 5-on-3), but just couldn't get the shots on goal. Thus, we needed an extra session.
A minute and a half into the overtime Mark Mancari, who already scored one goal on the night, connected on a cross-ice pass from Corey Locke to send everyone home. Mancari would be named the first star of the game.
Here's a more in-depth look at some of the happenings so far.
Moser Showing His Stuff
Simon Moser is one of the more experienced players on the roster, despite being a rookie to North American hockey. Although he was out of position on one of the Wolves goals Saturday, the former Swiss star bounced right back and scored his first AHL goal on the power play. The goal was on one of his many opportunities, including two breakaways caused by his own defensive play. Despite his one goal, the two big chances are ones he hopes he doesn't miss in the future.
"I should score on the breakaway," said Moser. "I don't even have a shot on goal, that's not good. As long as we don't get [a goal on us] its a successful penalty kill."
For Moser, this is all a part of the journey to getting to the NHL. Milwaukee, Wisconsin isn't exactly where Moser expected to be a year ago, but he says he seems to be enjoying his time so far.
"It was kind of unexpected, but I knew if I got a contract in Nashville I would probably have to start here," said Moser.
"It was pretty hard because every day and every practice I have to show up at my best to get a contract," said Moser on the Nashville tryouts. "I got lucky that I could play at my A-game and get a contract."
"He's exactly what [Nashville] said, a real solid player," said coach Dean Evason about Moser. "He really excels in speed. His attention to detail on the penalty kill is what allows him to have success."
Overall the line of Moser-Beck-Salomaki really seemed to stand out, especially as the home opener went along. Even if they don't convert every shift, it felt like they would at least get one solid scoring chance. I'd expect Moser to get an opportunity with the big club at some point this season.
Shorthanded Unit Solid
Alongside Moser, the entire secondary unit exhibited success, which seemed to start with the guys up front. Austin Watson had some take-aways to keep the Wolves out of the Admirals zone. A few of these lead to short-handed opportunities, one of which being put behind Wolves goalie Jake Allen by Tousignant.
"Our penalty kill has been solid," Evason proudly stated. "Our guys have been doing the right thing."
The breakaways were notable because each was created by a timely stick check. The shorthanded unit is working, and its evident on the ice.
Scoring From The Blueline
In the Ads game on Friday against the defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids the story was defenseman Anthony Bitetto, who scored two of the three Milwaukee goals. Bitetto, a former 6th round pick by Nashville, scored only one goal in his 34 games with the Admirals last season. On Saturday he may not have notched any points, but did participate in a spirited tussle with Tim Miller.
Bitetto spent a good portion of last season with the Cincinnati Cylones of the ECHL, but likely will get more time in the AHL this season.
Second Round Picks Impressing
Two players who have adjusted to the AHL well so far are two former Predators second round picks, Colton Sissons and Miika Salomaki. Sissons has two goals and two assists, averaging a point a game, seems to be all over the ice. He currently leads the team in points.
Salomaki's skill hasn't left a drastic effect on the scorecard just yet, since he's recorded just one assist, but its evident when you watch him that he has a lot of potential. That assist, which came against Chicago, was a beautifully timed pass on the powerplay on the Moser goal. He has a creative wrinkle to his offensive game, characterized by solid dekes and his excellent hands. He should only progress as he gets more North American experience.
Other Stories of Interest
- Magnus Hellberg has started three of the four games in goal. He currently has a 2.23 goals against average and a save percentage of .913. Marek Mazanec started Friday in Grand Rapids, his first AHL start, giving up two goals with a .923 save percentage.
- There was an interesting predicament Saturday as Joshua Shalla was suited up and on the bench despite not being on the team's official active roster for the game. In his post-game press conference Evason says it was entirely his fault, he simply forgot to put Shalla on the line-up card. There was no penalty for the mistake, but he was not allowed to play.
- The Ads are missing a few to injuries in Patrick Cehlin, Kevin Henderson, and Joonas Jarvinen. Evason said that Jarvinen will be out for a while, while the other two will be back with the team soon.
The Admirals have a nice break to go over film and get healthy as they don't play again until next Sunday, when they welcome the Texas Stars to the Bradley Center. The Stars have had a very successful start to their season as well, going 4-1-1. They only have one game between now and Saturday, Wednesday match-up against the Oklahoma City Barons.