With two big wins last week, the Admirals are riding a three-game win streak and a five-game point streak going into tonight’s matchup in Grand Rapids. At 16-18-4, and with all of their division rivals having several games in hand, this week could be a make-or-break one for Milwaukee who needs to go home with at least four out of a possible six points from the Griffins and IceHogs.
- Last week, Milwaukee recalled defender Jake McLaughlin from ECHL Florida and signed defender Stephen Desrocher from the University of Western Ontario before assigning him to the Everblades
- Defender Jeremy Davies was returned to Milwaukee while defender Matt Tennyson was recalled to Nashville
- Forward Matt Luff and goalie Tomas Vomacka were recalled to Nashville’s taxi squad
- Forward Rocco Grimaldi was named the AHL’s Player of the Week after scoring five goals and ten points in three games
Milwaukee Admirals (4) vs. Texas Stars (3)
Milwaukee opened the week against the only Central Division team sitting below them in the standings and let the Stars open the scoring after Connor Ingram let a weaker shot get by him. But from the start of the second period, this game became the Matt Luff and Rocco Grimaldi show with the former jumping right back into the lineup and igniting this hot-and-cold team.
Milwaukee’s top line with those two and Cody Glass scored three unanswered goals, and Luff and Grimaldi finished the night with eight total points (three goals and five assists) and 16 combined shot attempts at even strength. On top of that, the Admirals’ top unit had a 77.8% zone entry success rate against a fragile Texas defense.
After 40 minutes, however, Milwaukee let the Stars climb back into the game, tying things up with under four minutes to go.
While Connor Ingram stopped 35 of 38 shots (but faced none in overtime), Milwaukee cashed in on a power play in overtime thanks to assists from (you guessed it) Matt Luff and Rocco Grimaldi.
Milwaukee Admirals (5) @ Grand Rapids Griffins (2)
Looking to extend their win streak, the Admirals got a big boost against Grand Rapids with the return of Tommy Novak from an apparent upper-body injury. Matt Donovan opened the scoring thanks to assists from (you guessed it, again) Matt Luff and Rocco Grimaldi, but Milwaukee let another low-danger shot by less than a minute later.
Both teams traded goals in the second period, including one from Rocco Grimaldi, but the Admirals cracked things wide open in the third.
For the first 40 minutes, Milwaukee’s second line of Cody Glass, Cole Schneider, and Egor Afanasyev was not cutting it; Afanasyev, in particular, was struggling, recording just a 30.0% Corsi (at even strength) on the night and entering the offensive zone with possession on just one of six tries.
But in the third, Anthony Richard replaced Afanasyev, unlocking a lot of offense for the Admirals. Cole Schneider scored the go-ahead goal, and Rocco Grimaldi added two more to complete the hat trick. There’s not much more to say about Grimaldi’s play right now, and I’m not sure of many who are playing better hockey in the AHL than him at the moment; he’s dominant in this league, catalyzing a Milwaukee team sometimes desperate for offense.
Aside from Grimaldi’s well-deserved player-of-the-week honors, I was impressed with Cody Glass’ week as well. The centerman had a 55.0% Corsi rating on Saturday and went 3-for-5 on his offensive zone entries. More than any other forward in the pipeline, Glass opts to carry pucks in (81.8% of attempts) than dump-and-chase, and he’s maintained possession at a 66.7% rate on those entry attempts through nine games I’ve tracked.
The Week Ahead
- Wednesday, January 26 @ Grand Rapids Griffins
- Friday, January 28 vs. Rockford IceHogs
- Saturday, January 29 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins