Milwaukee Musings: Shorthanded Ads Hold Steady
At the very least, this club will be battle-tested come playoff time.
With the youth movement in Nashville underway, the Milwaukee Admirals remain severely shorthanded. Their top scorers are in the NHL and several key pieces—Jimmy Huntington, Jachym Kondelik, and Markus Nurmi—are injured. This group is down to just eight forwards on NHL or AHL contracts, with tryout players filling out the rest of the lineup.
But the blue line has remained steady, and the Admirals are getting reliable goaltending from both Yaroslav Askarov and Devin Cooley. With that help, Milwaukee went 2-1-0 last week to keep their spot at second in the Central. 18 games remain in the regular season, and they’re just a point behind Texas with reinforcements potentially on the way soon.
2022-23 Nashville Predators AHL/ECHL Stats
- Last Tuesday, Milwaukee signed Tye Felhaber of the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets to a professional tryout contract; the forward has no points in three games with Milwaukee
- Both Luke Evangelista and John Leonard were recalled to Nashville last week to make their season debuts for the Predators
- Evangelista, Leonard, Mark Jankowski, Phil Tomasino, and Kiefer Sherwood were all added to Milwaukee’s roster at the trade deadline, making them eligible for the Calder Cup playoffs
- On Friday, forward Zach Sanford was reassigned to the Admirals; he’s scored two points in 11 games with Nashville this year
- Yesterday, forward Michael McCarron was recalled to the Predators/
Milwaukee Admirals (1) vs. Iowa Wild (0)
The Admirals kicked the week off with another day game—this time against the Iowa Wild. In what was a fairly evenly-matched contest, the game-winner came just eight minutes into the first period as John Leonard tucked a rebound past Jesper Wallstedt.
another shut out for asky 😊 pic.twitter.com/Al95QnlBZQ— Milwaukee Admirals (@mkeadmirals) March 1, 2023
The rest of the day was a goalie duel. Both teams mostly stayed out of the penalty box and scoring chances were at a premium. Ultimately, Yaroslav Askarov was perfect, turning aside all 23 shots he faced for his third shutout of the year.
Milwaukee Admirals (3) @ Texas Stars (5)
If Wednesday’s contest was dull and quiet, Friday’s was the complete opposite. Antonio Stranges opened the scoring for Texas, beating Yaroslav Askarov with a tough-angle shot from below the right dot. Mavrik Bourque doubled the Stars’ lead a few minutes later with a laser of a wrist shot over Askarov’s glove. Remi Poirier stonewalled a few good chances from Mathew Santos and Tim Schaller to keep the score a 2-0 after 20.
Early in period two, Isaac Ratcliffe notched his first as an Admiral, poking home the rebound of an Adam Wilsby point shot; 12 seconds later, Riley Barber ripped a third goal past Askarov. A minute after that, Marc Del Gaizo dished out a major (and interfering) hit in the neutral zone and chaos ensued. After a fourth Texas goal, more fighting broke out, resulting in a Michael McCarron misconduct.
In the final frame, Askarov let a fifth goal in after it tipped off his glove hand, epitomizing the off night he was having. The Admirals were able to add two more goals in the third period, but the real story was more fighting. 92 total penalty minutes, five misconducts, and one hilarious goalie fight defined this loss:
IT'S A CRAZY NIGHT IN TEXAS Y'ALL! WE GOT A GOALIE FIGHT! pic.twitter.com/8pCb93OG3Y— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) March 4, 2023
Milwaukee Admirals (3) @ Texas Stars (2)
Given they outshot and out-chanced Texas on Friday night but still lost, Milwaukee had every chance to drag their feet on Saturday. Instead, you could notice a discernable sense of players stepping up in the absence of the Ads’ top scorers. Michael McCarron looked great all weekend; he was slicker with the puck, finished his checks, and made several high-skilled plays ultimately collecting a goal and two assists in this contest.
On the blue line, Jordan Gross and Spencer Stastney stood out, hustling to pucks and leading the rush when they recognized the opportunity; the latter was rewarded with the game-winning goal.
Milwaukee was all over Texas from the start of this one, dominating the first period as the Stars spent very little time in their offensive zone. The Admirals’ top line of Zach Sanford, Isaac Ratcliffe, and Egor Afanasyev was dynamic, posting a 71.4%, 61.3%, and 75.0% Corsi rating, respectively. Afanasyev especially looked brilliant with six shot attempts, four primary shot assists, and his 12th goal of the season.
Even with all the hustle, there was still a lack of finishing skill in the lineup. Texas was doing a good job of jamming up cycles in their end and slowing down Milwaukee’s attack. This battered forward group can only be asked to accomplish so much, but some opportunistic scoring and a really solid performance from Devin Cooley earned them two points.
The Week Ahead
- Tuesday, March 7 vs. Iowa Wild
- Friday, March 10 vs. Tucson Roadrunners
- Saturday, March 11 vs. Tucson Roadrunners/
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, theAHL.com, or manually tracked.