Admirals Take Down Undefeated Texas
The Admirals have had a quiet week, not playing for a whole seven days. That rest may not have shown right out of the gates, but on Saturday night Milwaukee had one of its most impressive victories of the season. The Ads seem to be making a habit of coming back from two goals down, and unlike last week against Chicago their comeback led to two points. After giving up the two early goals in the first period to the Texas Stars, Milwaukee scored four unanswered goals to skate off with a 4-2 victory.
The first period was not friendly for the Admirals as they were a step behind the Stars almost the entire twenty minutes. Texas took the early lead only six minutes in as a Travis Morin shot was deflected enough by Chris McKenzie to get past Marek Mazanec. Less than a minute later the Stars made it a two goal lead as Taylor Peters scored shorthanded off an unforgivable turnover by Taylor Beck. The Ads had some opportunities, but weren't able to get many on net.
Coming out of the first intermission, the Admirals had a bit more jump in their step. It didn't take long for Milwaukee to make things a game again, as Colton Sissons scored three minutes in to make it 2-1 Texas. They finally looked as fresh as they should be with a weeks rest. The Ads took over the game late in the second with two quick goals from Shalla and Sissons second to take the lead. The third saw some chances for the Stars but Austin Watson, who'd already had a very good defensive game, put the cherry on top with a laser to the top left corner.
The Admirals are the only team in the AHL without a regulation loss, but that can be taken with a grain of salt due to the team being tied for the least games played.
Sissons Impressing Early
Despite being a rookie in the AHL, Colton Sissons doesn't seem to be showing any problems adjusting to the professional game. His two goals give him five points on the season (3+2) in four games. He had plenty of other opportunities as well, including one shot that went right off the post a few minutes before his first goal.
On both his goals Sissons was where you love to see players to be, parked right in front of the net. He's not afraid to get into the dirty areas and bury rebounds. He is the type of player who you notice is always in the right position. After only four games it's also apparent he has chemistry with Simon Moser and Taylor Beck.
"We all came in here not knowing each other, not knowing our styles of play, and we're getting there," said Sissons. "Every game we seem to get a little bit more dominant, controlling pucks even better. It's going well and hopefully we can keep improving."
Sissons also plays in every position, demonstrating head coach Dean Evason's confidence in the young forward. Not only does he get ice time on the top line, but is a part of the power play and penalty kill units as well. He leads the team in goals and is tied for the lead in assists while posting a +1 ranking and a 28% shooting percentage.
Power Play Struggles
The chances on the power play this weekend were very minimal, as it seemed the Admirals had a tough time infiltrating the Stars zone. The unit went 0-4 on the night, giving up a shorthanded goal along the way. The goal came off a terrible turnover from Taylor Beck. From the side boards Beck threw the puck right into the slot to Taylor Peters, who was all alone and buried the shot.
The goal wasn't the only opportunity the Stars had while down one man, with some power plays leading to more chances for the Stars than the Admirals.
"Part of that is managing the puck," said Evason on the shorthanded opportunities given up. "We praised our guys on being structured on the PP and being in the right spots and tonight we weren't. We were trying to do too much."
The power play struggles have been a problem all season. The Admirals have only capitalized on three of their 24 man-up opportunities, which puts them 24th in the AHL.
Mazanec Gets First Start Since Hellberg Call up
With the Nashville Predators calling up Magnus Hellberg due to Pekka Rinne's hip infection, Marek Mazanec will be getting a lot more time as the team's starting goaltender. In his first game as a starter, he didn't disappoint. On paper the two early goals don't look great, but neither were necessarily his fault. The first goal was a deflected shot from the point, while on the second Mazanec was hung out to dry by the terrible Beck turnover.
The Stars got a lot of opportunities very close to the net, and Mazanec stopped every one of them. This was were he looked the most impressive, following the puck in big scrambles. He seemed to have a bit more trouble with mid-range shots, but it wasn't enough of an issue to allow any more goals.
"We didn't come into the season thinking [Hellberg] was one and [Mazanec] was two," said Evason. "Its a nice thing to have, two guys that we feel are real good prospects."
Mazanec shut the door after the early goals, keeping the Admirals within striking distance. Although no team wants to go down early, it's a good sign to see that Milwaukee has the mental toughness to not give up when down.
"Its not good for the goalie when I don't have a lot of shots and I give up two goals." said Mazanec. "You have to continue the game and be ready for the next shot.
Other Stories of Interest
- He may not have gotten on the score sheet, but Miika Salomaki had a good game. For a player whose greatest assets are his speed and stick-handling, its impressive to see his defensive ability as well. He is certainly not afraid to finish his check, forecheck, and get into some battles on the boards.
- The game was Chris Mueller's first visit back to Milwaukee since joining the Stars, but despite the familiar surroundings he was kept off the scoreboard. Mueller played for the Admirals for four seasons from 2009 until last year.
This week features two games, both at home against some of the league's best. The same two teams match-up again on Wednesday as the Stars look to exact revenge. On Friday the Ads welcome Rockford to the Bradley Center for the first time this season. The IceHogs and Stars are currently in a battle for first place in the Western Conference,.