New Faces Setting The Stage For Admirals


The Milwaukee Admirals 2014-15 season started this weekend with a pair of wins. Their season opener was against the Charlotte Checkers and saw them pick up a 6-3 win at home. The next night was followed up with a 3-2 road victory against a divisional foe in the Rockford IceHogs.

What was most impressive in the opening slate for the Admirals was the play of the newbies. The team is rolling out thirteen rookies out of the gate this season and seven of them have scored a point in the opening two games of the campaign. Despite being the youngest team in the AHL in 2014-15. It looks as if the talent level far outweighs any sort of youthful inexperience.

The play that stole the show on opening weekend was an example of just that. Pontus Åberg scored his first career AHL goal from a coast to coast effort that could well be the goal of the Admirals season – and he did it on opening night.

Åberg wasn’t alone in scoring a goal in his Admirals debut either. Both Viktor Arvidsson, Frédérick Gaudreau, and Félix Girard tallied in their debuts to the AHL. The next night in Rockford that trend would continue with Joe Pendenza scoring his first professional goal.

In watching the first two games for the Admirals it was a noticeable change from a systems and skill level perspective this year to last year. The Admirals are trying to mirror the systems in place for the Nashville Predators with Peter Laviolette in charge. It’s a more aggressive style of offense and an equally intense pressure based defense that appears to bode well for the talent in Milwaukee this season. I feel that the speed and talent is being allowed to shine out of these first year forwards because of the system. And, in only two games, the Admirals have nine goals to show for it.

An area that may be questionable for this Admirals team comes from its defense. Joe Piskula and Anthony Bitetto are the veterans of the defensive core that have been in Milwaukee for a combined 207 games. The next down the pipeline that has been around the organization would be Taylor Aronson – who is really just starting out life at the AHL level this season. Beyond them are prospects such as Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, Mikko Vainonen, and Garrett Noonan who received a look-around at the tail end of last season when their time in juniors or college came to an end. Additional rookies on defense include Johan Alm, Jaynen Rissling, and Jimmy Oligny.

At this current time, the Admirals have kept all of those names on their roster. You got it. All nine defenseman. The odd men out in the opening two games have been Diaby, Vainonen, and Rissling. There’s no word as to whether or not certain players are gearing up for an ECHL stint with the Cincinnati Cyclones but the numbers games should mean it is an inevitability. The great problem that the Admirals have this season is that they are so spoiled for choice in regards to defensemen in system. The longer the season goes, the more comfortable players get, and the more defined roles become should make this defense stronger.

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Marek Mazanec started both games for the Admirals this weekend: two wins, from two games, in two days. He allowed five goals from fifty-eight shots. I would say that of the five goals he allowed that only two of them were pucks he should have been able to stop. His effort in the second consecutive night of work may have been his best outing as an Admiral. He came up huge time and time again – including a crucial blocker save with an extra-attacker on for the IceHogs with seconds left in regulation. It may prove to be a tough season for Magnus Hellberg to earn net time.

The Admirals next slate of games include another two-in-two affair. This time they’ll be matching up with the Iowa Wild on the road. If the Admirals can recapture the form that they had against Iowa last season, where they won the season series with a cool record of 8-2-0-0, I’d be just fine with that. Time will prove to be the best medicine for the Admirals team in 2014-15. To start the season off successfully could mean we’re in for a special season in Milwaukee.