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Milwaukee Musings: Ads Win Two Thanks to New Top Line

Grimaldi, Novak, and Afanasyev led the way for Milwaukee this weekend.

Milwaukee Admirals

Milwaukee needed four points from two teams below them in the division standings last weekend, and that’s exactly what they got. A newly-formed top line led the way offensively as the Admirals knocked off Texas and Grand Rapids to improve to a 28-21-6 record and a 0.564 points percentage.

Going 6-2-2 in their last ten, Milwaukee has another critical week ahead of them; they’ll face struggling Iowa and Rockford teams this morning and Friday, respectively, before hosting division favorite Chicago in a Saturday night tilt.

Quick Hits

  • On Thursday, Milwaukee re-signed captain Cole Schneider to an AHL deal for the 2022-23 season
  • On Friday, forward Mathieu Olivier returned to the lineup from an undisclosed injury for the first time since January 19
  • Connor Ingram continues to lead all AHL goalies in games played with 40; he’s the only goalie who’s faced more than 1200 shots this season

Milwaukee Admirals (4) vs. Texas Stars (3)

After four days off, Milwaukee took the ice against basement-dwelling Texas on Friday with Mathieu Olivier back in the lineup and Connor Ingram in net. In Matt Luff’s absence, the Admirals iced a new top line of Tommy Novak centering Rocco Grimaldi and Egor Afanasyev; that group wasted no time getting to work.

Just over a minute into the opening frame, Afanasyev took a neutral-zone pass from Novak and cut into the slot, firing home a long-range wrist shot to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead. Towards the end of the period, Novak orchestrated an odd-man rush, feeding the puck to Grimaldi, who buried it past Adam Scheel.

The Admirals’ penalty woes resurfaced in the final two frames, and Texas ultimately tied things up on the power play thanks to a Joel L’Esperance shot from the slot.

In period three, Jeremy Davies found himself with plenty of time in space at the goal line and put one past Scheel with assists from Grimaldi and Novak. Ultimately, however, Texas tied the game again with another power-play tally.

Nashville Forward Prospects | Corsi
@OnTheFutureOTF

Overtime solved nothing, but Grimaldi and Cody Glass were the difference makers in the shootout. Grimaldi, and his line, were dominant all game long. They scored all three Milwaukee goals, totaling six of nine points, recorded nine shot attempts and 13 shot-attempt assists, and excelled in transition. Possession-wise, they were even better: a 74.1% Corsi for Novak (not including overtime), 70.8% for Grimaldi, and 69.6% for Afanasyev.

Milwaukee Admirals (3) vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (2)

With a shootout win under their belt, Milwaukee hosted a surging Grand Rapids team on Sunday and gave Devin Cooley his first start in nearly three weeks. Period one was uneventful, featuring Milwaukee’s only penalty kill of the night and no scoring.

In period two, Mathieu Olivier fed Cole Smith through the neutral zone, who walked in and lasered a wrist shot past Calvin Pickard. But the Griffins tied things up less than a minute later due to a poorly-timed pinch from Matt Tennyson and Marc Del Gaizo getting beat by a strong drive to the net.

Grand Rapids took the lead shortly into the third period, but Matt Donovan answered with a power-play backhander midway through the frame. With one minute to go in regulation, Cody Glass curled out from behind the Griffins net and fired a wrist shot that Cole Schneider tipped in to clinch a weekend sweep for Milwaukee (with help from a 28-save performance by Devin Cooley).

Nashville Forward Prospects | Total Shot Contributions
@OnTheFutureOTF

Although they combined for just two assists in this one, the Grimaldi-Novak-Afanasyev line was hard to beat yet again. Novak had a 62.9% Corsi at even-strength, Grimaldi was at 60.0%, and Afanasyev was at 55.8%. They combined for nine shot attempts and 12 shot-attempt assists and went 14 for 17 on controlled offensive zone entry attempts.


The Week Ahead

  • Wednesday, March 9 vs. Iowa Wild
  • Friday, March 11 vs. Rockford IceHogs
  • Saturday, March 12 vs. Chicago Wolves

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