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Milwaukee Musings: Ads Overcome Stars, Split Manitoba Series

Milwaukee remains in the Central Division driver’s seat.

Milwaukee Admirals

As the calendar has flipped to December, the Milwaukee Admirals remain one of the AHL’s best and hottest teams, going 7-3-0 in their last ten games. Last week, they overcame a Texas Stars’ onslaught thanks to brilliant goaltending and split two-game series with the Manitoba Moose. Catch up on how they did so below.

Quick Hits

  • Yesterday, defender Jordan Gross was recalled to Nashville to replace an injured Ryan McDonagh
  • Forward Tommy Novak is tied for 15th in AHL scoring with 21 points in 20 games
  • Forward Luke Evangelista is tied for 4th in AHL rookie scoring with 17 points in 20 games

Milwaukee Admirals (3) vs. Texas Stars (2)

The Texas Stars are right on the Admirals’ heels in the race for the Central Division, and last Tuesday, they played like it. The Stars came out firing, outshooting Milwaukee 31 to 16 in the first two periods. But it was the Admirals who got on the board first with Kiefer Sherwood taking advantage of an Anton Khudobin turnover behind the net. Unfortunately, Texas answered with two goals and more sustained offensive pressure.

Yaroslav Askarov was excellent in this contest, turning aside 34 of 36 shots. Head coach Karl Taylor assured us that Askarov and Devin Cooley would split starts until their play demanded otherwise, and the former is doing just that with 14 deserved appearances to Cooley’s six; both have been getting hot as the season has progressed.

Ultimately, this game came down to a five-minute stretch in the third period. The Markus Nurmi-Jimmy Huntington-Egor Afanasyev line had been beaten up all night but turned it around with two hard-working shifts that resulted in two goals, including the game-winner, in the final few minutes.

That final sprint was reflected in Nurmi, Huntington, and Afanasyev’s advanced metrics from that evening; they posted a 50.0%, 53.3%, and 51.9% Corsi (at even strength), respectively, combined four nine shot attempts and 11 primary shot assists, and gained the offensive zone with control on 75.0%, 75.0%, and 50.0% of their attempts, respectively.

Milwaukee Admirals (4) @ Manitoba Moose (3)

On Thursday, Karl Taylor stuck with Yaroslav Askarov between the pipes as the team traveled north to Manitoba. Tommy Novak got the scoring started, blasting a slap shot past Oskari Salminen in the first period; the 2015 third-round pick has six goals and 14 points in his last ten games.

Right before the end of the first, Alex Limoges found a cross-ice pass sneaking under a prone Spencer Stastney and tapped home an easy tying goal; the Moose then took the lead off a shot deflecting off the glass and out of Askarov’s sight in period two.

Milwaukee’s fourth line evened things less than a minute later thanks to a nice play between Jachym Kondelik and Tommy Apap; the latter has contributed two points in his last seven games and could add a little scoring depth that Navrin Mutter hasn’t if he can maintain it.

Manitoba struck on the power play before the end of the middle frame, but Cole Schneider tied things up again as the Admirals’ top line (Novak-Schneider-Evangelista) stays hot.

Overtime came and went thanks to these chaotic heroics from Yaroslav Askarov (his second diving poke-check save of the week), and Jordan Gross and Luke Evangelista tallied in the shootout to give Milwaukee another two points.

Milwaukee Admirals (2) @ Manitoba Moose (3)

In a Saturday rematch against the Moose, Karl Taylor went back to Yaroslav Askarov, who was seeking his seventh straight win. But it wasn’t meant to be as Manitoba got out to a 2-0 lead in the second period on two unlucky plays for the Russian netminder.

Despite being on the ice for the first two goals, Spencer Stastney and Adam Wilsby actually played a solid first two periods. They were both positive possession players at even strength through the first 40 minutes and notched two shot attempts each too; there wasn’t much either could’ve done to prevent those goals.

Kiefer Sherwood and Tommy Novak tied the game before the end of the second period; the latter is one of the hottest players in the AHL right now and should be Nashville’s next forward call-up.

Nashville Defense Prospects | Possession per 60 minutes
@OnTheFutureOTF

Unfortunately, the Admirals fell apart in the third period. The team didn’t record a single shot on goal, and Stastney and Wilsby got crisscrossed in their own end, losing coverage in front of Askarov and surrendering the game-winning goal for Manitoba. Stastney finished with a 42.9% Corsi and surrendered two high-danger shots but did allow just 14.3% of controlled zone-entry attempts. Wilsby finished with a 39.1% Corsi, surrendered two high-danger shots, and allowed 50.0% of controlled zone-entry attempts.


The Week Ahead

  • Wednesday, December 7 @ Rockford IceHogs
  • Friday, December 9 @ Hartford Wolfpack
  • Saturday, December 10 @ Springfield Falcons

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, theAHL.com, or manually tracked.