The Milwaukee Admirals are officially at their American Hockey League (AHL) All-Star break after suffering a shootout loss yesterday against the Chicago Wolves.
Editor’s note: Today’s piece is courtesy of Daniel Lavender and Admirals Roundtable. This post is part one of two catching Nashville Predators fans up on the club’s minor league squad, the Milwaukee Admirals:
The past few weeks have felt very hit and miss as a team. Some nights, the Admirals are a team that can manage the pace of a game and hold out for the win. Other nights, you see a team struggling to connect in all areas of the ice. To me, that’s life at the AHL level and there has been far more positives through the Admirals first half of the season than negative.
Young guns such as Colton Sissons and Miikka Salomaki have gone above and beyond my expectations for their rookie seasons in the AHL. It’s almost awkward for me to use the term rookies with them because neither of them resemble rookies. Salomaki and Sissons are one and two in points. They have been the most consistent and reliable Admirals this season and that isn’t just offensively.
Sissons, who made his NHL debut a couple weeks ago and will be appearing in this week’s AHL All-Star festivities, plays an all-around game and has been called upon for the team’s power play and penalty kill. I like to say that he never does anything flashy – he just makes the smart play, time and time again. It’s this high ability between the ears that should have Nashville Predators fans the most excited because, at only 20-years old, he plays and conducts himself with the maturity of a veteran.
“He is unbelievable,” said Admirals defenseman Mike Liambas of Colton Sissons. “The guy is 20-years old but, if you didn’t know he was 20-years old, you would think he is a 30-year old maturity-wise. He is a true professional already in his first year out of juniors. I learn from him on a daily basis whether he knows it or not. He does everything right.”
Salomaki has been consistent in his own right. With every shift he takes, he is a relentless force on the ice. I don’t believe there is another Admiral this season who plays at the same compete level as the 20-year-old from Finland. He might only be a whisker under the six-feet-tall mark – but he plays the game as physical as any other big man we have here.
That being said, Salomaki recently took that physicality and relentlessness to an extreme against the Utica Comets this past Friday – resulting in a match penalty for boarding in the first period of an already outmatched hockey game for the Ads.
After the game head coach Dean Evason said, “He’s a bull in a china shop. That’s his game and that’s what he’s going to do. So, that’s going to happen to him sometimes.”
It was the first real sign of a mistake in his playing style this season. His ability to outwork bigger guys on the forecheck, finish checks and drive in on the goaltenders has led to many face-washing scrums due to the edge he plays with. Salomaki finding the line between “too much” and “just right” probably begins with that match penalty. With how he has looked on the ice this whole season – he doesn’t strike me as a player who will struggle taking instruction lightly. Evason has praised his effort and ability all season long – and that goes far beyond what gets put down on a stat sheet for the games he plays in. He is always the last player off the ice during pre-game warm ups.
As someone who Nashville hasn’t seen yet, believe me when I say this: he will be an infectious player to have in a locker room for his work ethic and determination alone. I expect him to get a look on the Predators before the season ends.
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