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Milwaukee Musings: Admirals Surge to End 2022

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Dave Kallmann / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Milwaukee Admirals finished 2022 with a 2-1-0 week against division rivals Chicago and Grand Rapids. Despite that, Texas and Rockford have surged lately, leaving the Ads with the Central Division’s third-best record at 18-10-2 (although they are besting Rockford in points percentage).

With some recent bumps behind them, Milwaukee will look to continue their winning ways in the new year without offensive threats like Tommy Novak, Juuso Pärssinen, and Mark Jankowski.

Quick Hits

  • Defender Roland McKeown was recalled to Nashville after being returned from a previous recall over the weekend
  • Forward Luke Evangelista is tied for third in rookie AHL scoring with five goals and 23 points in 30 games
  • Milwaukee has the second-fewest penalty minutes in the AHL (278) behind the Rochester Americans (262)
  • Kevin Gravel (D) and Jimmy Huntington (F) played in their 300th and 150th AHL games, respectively, over the weekend.

Milwaukee Admirals (3) vs. Chicago Wolves (4)

Hosting the Chicago Wolves on the backside of the AHL’s Christmas break, the Admirals got off to a solid start in the dying moments of the first period. With seconds to spare, Jimmy Huntington pulled a puck off the wall thanks to pressure from Kiefer Sherwood and buried it to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.

Period two, however, is where the Ads fell apart as Yaroslav Askarov gave up four goals on eight shots, including three straight to start the middle frame. Milwaukee’s defense, particularly from Kevin Gravel, was suspect for much of the night, leaving Askarov with far too much to handle.

Kiefer Sherwood and Jimmy Huntington teamed up again to get one back before the end of the period, and Tim Schaller tipped in a Marc Del Gaizo point shot in the third to get the Admirals within one. But ultimately, it was too little too late, and Milwaukee dropped this one 4-3.

Milwaukee Admirals (3) vs. Grand Rapids Griffins (0)

Milwaukee turned next to hosting the Grand Rapids Griffins, sticking with Askarov between the pipes. He energized the team with a few big saves early on before Kiefer Sherwood scored his fifth goal in the last ten games to give the Ads a 1-0 lead.

Later in the period, Cole Schneider doubled the team’s lead as his line with John Leonard and Luke Evangelista continued to click.

Nashville Defense Prospects | Possession
@OnTheFutureOTF

Milwaukee’s defense held tight all game, giving up just six shots in the final 40 minutes and committing just one penalty. Marc Del Gaizo and Spencer Stastney were particularly successful. They recorded a 64.5% and 63.0% Corsi at even strength, respectively, and combined for ten shot attempts and two primary shot assists. Del Gaizo succeeded with eight of his nine controlled zone exit attempts, and Stastney shut down 66.7% of zone entry attempts against him.

Jimmy Huntington added a third goal, and Askarov stopped all 17 shots, recording his second career AHL shutout.

Milwaukee Admirals (4) @ Grand Rapids Griffins (2)

For the final game of the year, Milwaukee traveled to Michigan for a rematch with the Griffins; Devin Cooley started in-net. In a chippier affair with nearly 60 total PIMs, Grand Rapids controlled much of the possession.

The Schneider—Leonard—Evangelista line opened the scoring with Leonard going high glove over Jussi Olkinuora. After the Griffins tied things up a minute later, Devin Cooley robbed Jakub Vrana late in the first before Phil Tomasino got behind the Grand Rapids defense and buried a breakaway goal.

Nashville Forward Prospects | Transition Play
@OnTheFutureOTF

Heading into the third period tied at two, Luke Evangelista notched the game-winner—his fifth of the season—on one of four of the Ads’ power-play chances. Schneider and Leonard connected for an empty-netter, sealing a 4-2 win for Milwaukee to end 2022. Despite their impression on the scoresheet, the Admirals’ top line struggled a bit in this one. Schneider (47.1%), Leonard (50.0%), and Evangelista (40.0%) were all outmatched in even-strength possession and just one of their six shot attempts came from a high-danger area. Leonard, however, was excellent in transition, succeeding on 100.0% of his controlled zone exits and 83.3% of his controlled zone entries at even strength.


The Week Ahead

  • Friday, January 6 vs. San Diego Gulls
  • Saturday, January 7 vs. San Diego Gulls

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