Hockey News

Afanasyev becomes the difference in the Admirals |

Patrick Features Writer

Game 3 of the Central Division Finals showed just how much Egor Afanasyev it can take over the game.

The 23-year-old forward moves enough to pull a 6-foot-4, 209-pound frame to open spots on the ice. He is intelligent, anticipatory and sees the snow well. He also has a trick shot, which he can launch with a second flick of the wrists. He can also handle the puck well to keep opposing players guessing.

On that night last week against Grand Rapids, the Griffins looked powerless to stop Afanasyev, who scored all three goals in the Milwaukee Admirals' 3-2 overtime win.

On his first goal, Afanasyev created enough movement on his shot from just above the top slot for a rebound, then hit the net quickly and pointed a long shot that eluded the keeper. Sebastian Cossa.

For his second goal, he quietly found a break from the defenders, and slid into the right circle. When Joakim KemellA blast from the left circle blew to Afanasyev, he quickly set the puck down and moved to fire another long shot past Cossa.

Then in overtime, he hung in the attack, took a pass from Kemell along the right boards and cut to just above the right circle before grabbing the winning goal.

Three different ways, three different goals.

“I think it's a big factor in the playoffs to be able to play under pressure,” Afanasyev said. “I always worked hard at my job, and finally that work showed.”

Afanasyev torched the Griffins with five goals in a five-game streak, helping send the Admirals to the Western Conference Finals for the second year in a row.

It's easy to see the raw power that the Nashville Predators saw when they made Afanasyev a second round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The player, originally from Tver, Russia, came to North America at the age of 15 to play in the Detroit area of ​​the Little Caesars youth program. From there he spent two seasons in the United States Hockey League with Muskegon and then moved to Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League for the 2019 season. After a pandemic season detour back to Russia, he signed with the Admirals in 2021-22.

Afanasyev has won the head coach Karl TaylorHe's reliable enough to be used in every situation, and his five goal streak tied him for the AHL regular season lead.

“He's definitely becoming a more mature game for us,” explained Taylor. “He is in better shape than before. His first year was studying. His second year, he was a good defensive player for us, and this year he has put it all together. He is scoring a lot of goals. He produces a lot, but he still plays a good defensive role for us. I think he has a perfect game today, and he's going in the right direction.

“What's going to make the difference in being a full-time NHL'er so you can represent yourself?” Taylor continued. “That's something he needs to see. Same with the other 25 guys we have on our list. How are you going to break up so people go, 'I have to have this player.'

This year, Afanasyev led the Admirals with 27 goals and 54 points in 56 games, and Nashville has seen enough promise to call him up for 19 games over the past two seasons.

“We need him to score for us to be successful,” Taylor joked. “That's not a secret. You can share that with whoever you want.”

Milwaukee will be looking to earn a split in the first two games of the conference finals tonight in the Coachella Valley; the Firebirds took a 2-1 decision in Game 1 on Wednesday. The Admirals have already fought back four times this past season, including coming back from 0-2 down against Texas in the semifinals.

“We have a lot to prove,” said Afanasyev, “and everyone is ready.” features writer Patrick Williams has covered the American Hockey League for nearly two decades at outlets including, Sportsnet, TSN, Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM ! Sports, and most recently was the host of The Hockey News On The 'A' podcast. He was the recipient of the AHL's James H. Ellery Memorial Award for the league's top scorer in 2016.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button