Cleat Geeks

Hungry like the Wolves: Milwaukee Admirals vs. Chicago Wolves

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Matinee hockey took place Sunday at the Allstate Arena as the Milwaukee Admirals and Chicago Wolves continued Amtrak Rivalry.

In recent news, G Pheonix Copley and Ty Rattie have rejoined the Wolves from St. Louis. Also, The Chicago Wolves announced Friday that center Zack Phillips has been assigned to the team from the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) by St. Louis (NHL).  Playing most of his career in the AHL, Phillips has posted 35 goals and 65 assists in 251 AHL appearances, which includes 5 goals and 9 assists in 39 games for the Providence Bruins this season. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound forward also notched 1 goal and 1 assist in 5 games for Atlanta.ZackPhillips

These teams faced off Saturday night in Milwaukee, where the Admirals won in an OT thriller by the score of 1-0. RW Pontus Aberg scored at 1:29, his 16th of the season, to seal the victory. Copley had 38 saves in the loss.

One thing that has been a struggle for the Wolves vs. Admirals is their powerplay. Only converting on 8/32 (25 %), this unit could be the key in getting the W and with Ty Rattie back, he will definitely be getting a look on the unit.

JermaineBlainWolvesThe Wolves got things started in the first period with a shot from the left circle from D Jeremie Blain at 2:14 assisted by O’Brien and Barbashev.

Milwaukee would get their first odd man opportunity on the powerplay at 10:45 in the first.  The Admirals only got off a few shots as the Wolves penalty kill came up big just like they have all season long. Both teams had a chance at the PP later in the period but came up empty.  Milwaukee led the shots 8-5 but the Wolves had the 1 goal lead heading into the intermission.

The Admirals opened up the second period in the best way possible. 2:10 into the period, C Cody Bass lit the lamp to tie up the game. And the goals just kept coming for the Admirals. Former first round pick by the Predators in the 2014 NHL Draft, LW Kevin Fiala scored off a funnt bounce from the boards. Copley lost sight of the puck leading to an easy score for the top prospect. And just over two minutes later, the Admirals increased the lead to two goals.

The score could be very different based on the powerplay opportunities for Milwaukee.  The Admirals had 3 powerplays in the second period but did not capitalize on any.

Photo by; John Konstantaras Chicago Wolves

Photo by; John Konstantaras Chicago Wolves

Wolves must be happy right?

The Admirals are 24-0-0-0 when leading after two periods. The Wolves are in a tight spot but let’s see what they can put together in the third.

It was all Admirals in the third period. Besides the Ty Rattie goal on a penalty shot, the Admirals kept pouring it on. Both of Milwaukee’s first two goals to put them up 5-2 were on the powerplay. And both were assisted by Fiala. He had 1 G and 2 A on the day.

While excuses are not tolerated, its very hard for any team to play back to back days, especially the way this home to home went. Both these teams played a 7pm Saturday night in Milwaukee then had to make the trip down to play again at 3pm.  Two games in 24 hours is not easy physically and mentally, no matter the talent.

theAmtrackRivalryThe Admirals stay undefeated when leading after two periods beating the Wolves 5-2.  Rattie and Blain were your goal-scorers for the Wolves.  Copley moves to 12-13-3 on the season in net.

The Chicago Wolves will travel out to Charlotte as they will play the Checkers on Tuesday and Thursday.  You can follow @ChicagoWolvesLive on twitter for in game updates.

Hungry like the Wolves: Milwaukee Admirals vs. Chicago Wolves

ROSEMONT, Ill. – It was another Saturday night at the AllState Arena as the Wolves welcomed the Milwaukee Admirals to town on the second of a back to back home to home series.  The Wolves and Admirals take part in the Amtrak Rivalry every year, and so far this year, it’s been all Admirals.

Coming into tonight, the Admirals are 5-1-0-0 vs. Chicago this season.  For the Wolves, who said they cannot grab another win in this gut wrenching rivalry.HungryForMoreChicagoWolves

The Wolves have added a few players over the last week. One is Justin Crandall. Crandall, 23, has delivered 15 goals and 35 assists this season for the Reading Royals. The Lakeville, Minnesota, native leads all ECHL rookies in scoring. He turned pro late last season after amassing 40 goals and 39 assists in four seasons for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Crandall has the skill and speed to contribute early and help this team get over the hump.

The Wolves are 3-6-2-0 in the month of February.  It has been a slow month as Jordan Binnington has really struggled.  Binnington is now 11-12-3 and has a GAA of 2.99.  It is unusual to see him play like this given all the success he has had in his career and recently being called up to the NHL. But even with the struggles, he is back in goal tonight looking to have a strong outing after giving up 4 goals on Friday night.

The Wolves were not going to let the Admirals run all over them again and it showed in the first period. The Wolves were aggressive from the start and played well on the boards. If you were to sum up the first in one word it would be: opportunities. Both the Wolves and the Admirals had a lot of quality chances.  Even though the Wolves led the shot category 11-4, the Admirals got pucks in deep and were aggressive on the boards. It was an entertaining first period to say the least.

EmersonClarkThe Wolves best shot came near the end of the first when LW Emerson Clark ripped a slap-shot from the left circle and almost got through the five-hole of G Marek Mazanec. Clark, just signed by the Wolves on February 13th, has one goal in seven games to start his AHL campaign.  Emerson is a young, fast skater with breakout potential as shown from his 15 goals in Tulsa earlier this year for the ECHL.

The Wolves could not have started the period any worse.  The Admirals scored right off the faceoff, 13 seconds in, to go up 1-0. C Colton Sissons of Milwaukee scored his 8th of the season with a forehand to backhand right over the blocker of Binnington. But it wouldn’t take long for the Wolves to put their foot in the ground and get themselves on the board.

Captain and All-Star Pat Cannone scored his 20th of the season 1:47 after the Admiral goal. That tied the game up and fans were getting into it.

Both teams had powerplay opportunities but failed to convert. The Wolves and Admirals both tacked on 11 shots in the 2nd period, but the Wolves lead the SOG 22-15.

And that was the end of the second period…..wait….no it’s not.  Emerson Clark of the Wolves and Jimmy Oligny of the Admirals dropped the gloves. Nothing like a good old fight to go into the locker-room fired up for the 3rd.

Didn’t I say this kid was going to come up big at some point!  Justin Crandall netted his first AHL goal, a beauty right over the shoulder of Mazanec, to put the Wolves up 2-1 with 14:53 remaining in the 3rd.  It panned out to be the game winner for the twenty-three year old. It only took him two games to score and now, already a game winner….living the dream if you ask me.

The Admirals would not go away. Their possession time and dump and chase kept them in this game but the outstanding goaltending and defense by the Wolves kept the 2-1 lead and eventually the victory. The final SOG total was 32-25 Wolves.ChicagoWolves

The Wolves move to 25-25-3-2 on the season.  With the addition of some very talented players, they will look to finish off the year strong and really work to gain a playoff berth.  With about a month and a half to go, it is very manageable for John Anderson’s young squad.

The Wolves will play their third game in three days as they travel to Grand Rapids to play the Griffins at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. The Wolves showed tonight that they can play some great hockey.  Now, it’s important to keep the momentum going, get the new guys going, and find a way to grind out the rest of the season in hopes of a playoff berth.

Quest For The Kelly Cup Starts Now!

It is finally opening night in the ECHL and the quest for the Kelly Cup has begun. The long summer for some and the short summer for others, is finally over. It is time to get back out on the ice and fight for a championship once again. Some teams will see several familiar faces return, while others will feel like they are looking at a brand new team. It amazes me how a team can come together in such a short amount of time. The ECHL began training camp two weeks ago with a mere two pre-season games to get their teams straight for opening night.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Patrick Kelly last season as he visited several teams with the Cup. What an honor it was to meet someone with such love and passion for a sport. I have met numerous athletes in different sports, but I must say this meeting ranks in my top 5. To see the Cup in person is an amazing feeling. To know that you are supporting these guys to do their very best to raise that over their head is priceless.swamp_rabbits_logo

What was the biggest news in the off-season for the ECHL? I’m going to go with the re-branding of the Greenville Road Warriors to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. This name change has brought a lot of negativity from many of the fans that have supported the Road Warriors over the past five years. However I look at it as a brilliant marketing move. It put the team in the national spot light with coverage from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and several other media outlets. The name change brings more ties in from the city of Greenville. Most exciting part is what other team has the mascot of Swamp Rabbits? Answer: None. That’s right, congratulations Greenville you have your own identity now, and I love the #FearTheEars motto.swamp_rabbits_puck

Good luck to each of the teams this season as they make their quest towards the Kelly Cup. Always remember… If you love the Game, It will love you back!

What is the ECHL?

ECHLroadwarriorsYou know, that Hockey League down towards the bottom that many people don’t pay attention too or hear about.  The letters that stands for East Coast Hockey league, yet has teams in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Texas and more; I mean it doesn’t get much more East Coast than that.  Yes I am a new writer here on Cleat Geeks and yes I have a sarcastic sense of humor.  You will learn that I have a huge passion for sports and have recently re-found my passion for Hockey through the ECHL.  Why?  Well that answer is still to be determined since it isn’t considered one of the major sports, but is merely a part of one, that being the NHL.

I moved to Greenville, SC in early 2013 leaving everything behind back in Indianapolis, IN all for a job.  Going from a huge city that thrives on major sporting events, to a city that has plenty of sports to watch, but the marketing just doesn’t seem to be there to get the fans in the stands it makes my struggle real in getting that passion going.  One evening while out enjoying downtown, I just happened to be in the same bar as a few of the hockey players for the local team.  I know we are all shocked by Hockey players drinking, but if it weren’t for them being in that bar, I would have never known the team here existed.  One of the players invited me to a game, and I was hooked from there and the passion was re-ignited.  I am now a season ticket holder and am proud to cheer on my local team.

See I have always been a hockey fan from the days of the Indianapolis Ice who were affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings at the time and I’ll never forget going to an Ice game where Chris Chelios was doing a rehab stent.  I took a break from Hockey after the Ice left and became a youth league and focused on Football.  Now that I am in Greenville it is back to Hockey and I am happy to follow along.  I love being able to support the team and help get more fans in the stands.  If we don’t get more fans in attendance, we may not have a team much longer in our area.  In looking, it seems most ECHL teams get a bailout from their affiliates to keep afloat to offset losses during the season.  Is it a case of Hockey in the south?  I’ll touch up on that question in another article.

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 20: Mackenzie Skapski #70 of the New York Rangers, playing in his first NHL game, flashes a smile during their game against the Buffalo Sabres on February 20, 2015 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. New York won, 3-1. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Following the ECHL is different for me.  I now follow the players more so than a team.  Yes I still have my local team to support, but this is a developmental league and I really enjoy watching the players move up and hate when they get moved back down.  However, we all know that is part of the process.  In just two season, I have seen so many players move from team to team amongst the ECHL and move up and down from ECHL to AHL. In fact, this year I watched a kid go from ECHL in pre-season to getting his first NHL win with the New York Rangers.  Yes I’m talking about Goalie Mackenzie Skapski.  I cannot wait to follow his career and the career of several others.  I will sign off with this: If you love the game, it will love you back!

 

 

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