Since dropping their season-opening game at Peoria, 4-2, the Milwaukee Admirals (3-1-1) – Nashville’s primary developmental affiliate in the American Hockey League – have captured seven of eight points, most recently blitzing the Iowa Stars 7-3 and 4-2 this past weekend.
“I thought we played real well in both games this weekend,” Admirals Head Coach Lane Lambert said. “Early in the season, it always takes a little bit of time to come together as a team, but we have taken some good steps in that direction, especially with all the new faces and the light schedule we have.”
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
has been one of the most impressive Preds prospects in the early goings, starting every game and posting a 2.61 goals against average and .908 save percentage.
“I thought the first weekend when we didn’t play real well he kept us in those games,” Lambert said. “As our team game has started to improve a bit, he has continued to be steady.”
|Antti Pihlstrom has been solid for the Admirals, posting five points in five games. |
The Admirals are graced with plenty of newcomers this season, seven of which are playing their first North American season – making the jump from various European professional leagues. On defense, two of the Predators final cuts at September’s training camp have been rocks. Janne Niskala has stood out for his offensive skill, posting four points while honing his defensive game with a plus-4 rating. Alexander Sulzer, who has spent the past four seasons in the German League, has also been steady, bringing good poise and maturity to a young contingent of blue liners.
Up front, energetic Finn Antti Pihlstrom
has stolen the show among the new players in the Nashville system, playing an up-tempo, physical game in addition to pitching in some offense. He is tied for the team lead in goals with three and sits second in points with five.
has been real good the last three games, playing similar to how he played in exhibition games in Nashville with a whole lot of speed, energy and body contact,” Lambert said. “He is scoring goals as well, which is nice to see him get rewarded.”
After beginning the season with five games in a 15-day span, Milwaukee will play four games in six days starting Wednesday when it welcomes the Quad City Flames to the Bradley Center. Lambert said the upcoming schedule will be more than welcomed from his squad, who are itching to hit someone other than their own teammates.
“The games will come as a nice break from practice for us,” he said. “Players want to play, and we’ve accomplished a lot in practice to open the year, but it will be nice just to play. With a group that has a lot of new faces you need the practice to start the season, and now that the preparation side is ok, the players are chomping at the bit to play some games.”