by Meghan Rock
The Admirals were forced to step down from the winning podium after their historic 13 game win streak came to an end Tuesday night at Texas. Despite the 5-1 loss, Milwaukee remains first in the Central Division with 17 wins.
“It’s a pretty special thing, we’re disappointed that it’s ended, but it’s not going to last forever. It is neat to set a standard with a team that has been here for 50 years,” head coach Karl Taylor said. “The guys should be proud of that, but we need to move on.”
Despite the historic streak, victory wasn’t on the Admirals stat sheet at the beginning of the season.
Milwaukee opened their 2019-20 season with 5-2 a loss at Iowa. The loss snapped a three-game opening night winning streak, dating back to the 2015-16 season.
The rough patch for the Admirals continued throughout October, losing five of their nine games.
After three of Milwaukee’s five losses came as a result of overtime or a shootout, the team headed back to the drawing board.
“We were finding our identity and we knew we had good players, so maybe we were relying more on talent then team play,” Taylor said. “It took us a little while to find our identity and find out our roles on the team. Then, learning how to play within our system.”
Following a few adjustments, the Admirals began to produce results. Milwaukee’s win streak began on Nov. 2 at home with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves. Since then, the Admirals haven’t looked back, capturing a franchise high, 13 wins over Manitoba, San Antonio, Laval, Belleville, Iowa, Grand Rapids and Texas.
Despite the snap, the historic streak did not come without a challenge.
“We want to win in regulation,” Taylor said.
Four of the 13 wins were a result of overtime at San Antonio, Iowa and Texas.
Throughout the win streak, adversity was also a factor. The team was faced with multiple recalls to Nashville. Most notably, reigning American Hockey League MVP, Daniel Carr departed for Music City on Nov. 25. Before the recall, the left winger was on a 10-game point streak and led the Admirals with 21 points (11g, 10a) in just 16 games.
With the departure of Carr, Taylor and his staff didn’t know how the team would handle it.
“This will be interesting, and we will see who can step up and grab this ice time and take advantage of the opportunity of him (Carr) leaving,” Taylor said.
The next man up mentality became prevalent in the Admirals locker room and rookie Tommy Novak took it to heart and skated with it.
“He (Novak) was a guy that was a Nashville pick. He didn’t get signed, he signed an American deal,” Taylor said. “He is fighting. He is a PHD; poor, hungry and driven. He is trying to fight for everything that he can get.”
The center began his rookie campaign sluggish. Then, in November a spark ignited. Novak recorded his first pro goal as part of a four-point night on Nov. 6 against Manitoba. Since then, Novak has notched 14 points (3g, 11a) in 22 games, earning him CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month for November.
Yet, Taylor expects more from Novak.
Taylor said, “he’s got to focus on playing at pace and continuing his trend, even though he left that guy (Carr) on his left side.”
Milwaukee looks to get back in the winning column and extend its home winning streak to 6 tomorrow night when they host the Iowa Wild at 7 p.m.
“With Iowa we need to focus on how they play. Their forwards are very strong and very good in the offensive zone, so we need to kill plays and cut off the back of the net,” Taylor said.