Admirals Finding Early Success Through Its Youth

The second week of the American Hockey League season is in the books and the Milwaukee Admirals have done something that they’ve never done in the AHL era of the team. The Admirals have won their first four games of the season for the first time since 1988. That dates back to the days of the International Hockey League.

It might be so very young into the season but the Admirals sit atop the entire AHL this season with 8 points from 4 games. If not for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers logging an extra game than the Admirals – we’d also be talking about the team with the most goals scored in the AHL.

This weekend the Admirals played another two-in-two and both contests were on the road against the Iowa Wild. The first contest wasn’t that smooth but saw the Admirals pick up a 4-3 win. The following night proved to be their best end-to-end effort of the season with a 4-0 shutout that also featured a natural hat trick.

Marek Mazanec continued to shoulder the work load for the Admirals. He started both games in Iowa to make it two consecutive weekends in which he played two games in two days. As mentioned above, the first contest against Iowa wasn’t as smooth for the team. Mazanec was in net and saw a 4-1 lead tighten to 4-3 in the late stages.

Mazanec’s response the next night resulted in his first career AHL shutout. Yes, he recorded his first ever shutout in North America with the Nashville Predators last season – but it sometimes feels like a running joke that you can expect Mazanec to allow two goals per game as a member of the Admirals. Between the 2013-14 AHL season, AHL playoffs, and this season – Mazanec has allowed less than two goals in only 7 games from 38 games in net. His 29-save shutout against Iowa on Saturday night was about as comfortable and confident as he’s ever looked as an Admiral.

Austin Watson’s strong start to the season also spilled into the two games in Iowa. He became the first Admiral since Alexander Radulov in the 2006-07 season to score a goal in each of the first three games. He now has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 4 games. And remember that this is all coming from him on the right-wing this season. He’s not worked as a center yet and his chemistry with Mark Van Guilder should prove to keep it that way.

The youth of the Admirals rookies has also remained a very bright spot in both wins this weekend. Brendan Leipsic is now tied for the league lead in rookie scoring with David Pastrnak of the Providence Bruins with 6 points. The lone thing is: Pastrnak has played an extra game in comparison. Leipsic has yet to score a goal but his 6 assists not only lead the Admirals in that category. He also leads the team in overall scoring. His speed, ability to leap from defense into attack, and willingness to distribute the puck has seen him succeed on the team’s top two lines in the opening four games.

Viktor Arvidsson recorded his first career North American goal on opening night from the power-play. This past weekend he recorded a natural hat trick with two goals of the three coming on the power-play to make the Admirals 4-0 shutout all the more sweet. He packs an absolute howitzer of a shot and never shies away from using it. I imagine his mind works as such: (1) Do I have the puck? SHOOT. (2) Do I have the puck? No? Call for it. SHOOT. When you have a league best three power-play goals from four games – I suppose it’s hard to blame him.

The Admirals play another two-in-two this coming weekend. They will be on the road against the Chicago Wolves on Friday night and will return back to Milwaukee on Saturday with a game against the Lake Erie Monsters. Can the Admirals come out the other side of this weekend still undefeated? My finger points directly to the game against the Wolves as the biggest test of this weekend as to whether or not the win streak continues.

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