When I was 21, the most exciting thing I did was take a college semester abroad. When I was 21, I was awkwardly self-defeating and lovelorn. When I was 21, I had a goatee and no one told me I looked like an idiot. Maybe it is because I am a few days away from my 33rd birthday and another year closer to my own mortality, or maybe it is my love for the game. Either way, it is difficult to be anything but impressed with 21 year old, Peter Holland. He is one of the Norfolk Admirals’ premier forwards. He leads the 2012-13 Norfolk Admirals with 23 points (10g, 13a) in 22 games. He gets consistent ice-time on the number one line, and has scored six points (1g, 5a) in his last four games, assisting the Admirals in winning three of their last four away from Scope. He is happy with how things have gone so far, but he is not satisfied. “The points are coming, and that is always a nice thing. At the same time, I think there’s more. I don’t think I’ve played my best hockey yet,” said Holland.
Many people have to work hard to balance their self-confidence with humility. A little too much confidence and you’re thought of as an arrogant hot-head. A little too much humility and you’re considered a self-deprecating sap. For Peter Holland, this balance comes naturally. You see, in hockey, winning requires scoring, and scoring requires skill in the professional ranks–those things are obvious; however, character is what turns the spark of talent into a fire. Character commands your respect and others will follow. At a very young age, Peter Holland has become a leader by example. “I come to the rink every day and I try and get better every day,” said Holland. “I owe a lot of the goal-scoring to [my line-mates (Maroon, Palmieri, and Smith-Pelley)],” continued Peter. Humility and passion for the game are two things that any professional athlete will tell you are integral to long-term success, and Peter Holland has plenty of both.
We’ve seen a significant turnaround in the Admirals play over the last couple weeks. Admirals radio broadcaster, Pete Michaud, has stated on multiple occasions that they look like a totally different team compared to earlier this year. This change, in no small part, can rest on Holland’s shoulders. The team reached a breaking point and although losing is part of a lengthy 76-game season, the team’s drive is to win, no matter what. “Guys were sick of losing,” said Holland. “In fact, we down right hate it,” he continued. And just like Holland, Admirals Head Coach, Trent Yawney believes the same thing. “We’re pleased with how we played on the road, but we are not satisfied, and we have to play better at home,” said Yawney. Happy, not satisfied. This seems to have become the team’s motivating mantra.
The Adimrals penalty kill (PK) has been strong, killing 33 straight penalties. Their power play (PP), though, seems to be in a bit of a rut. “I think we need to outwork the other team’s PK,” said Holland about the struggling Norfolk power play. “It’s not as easy as everyone thinks it is, but sometimes we take it for granted that they’re a man down,” he continued. Overall, Holland doesn’t seem too worried about it. But, that is likely because it is on their radar and they all know it needs to get better.
The key to the team’s recent success has been strong defense from all players on the ice. “It’s been a team defense,” said Yawney. “Our defensemen are a big part of that, but our forwards have done a much better job of keeping gaps under control,” he continued. It doesn’t hurt that Frederik Andersen has a 1.25 GAA (goals against average) and .962 sv% (save percentage) while starting the last four games. Of course, this is sort of like the “chicken or the egg” conundrum. Is Andersen playing exceptionally well giving the Admirals more opportunities for wins, or are the forwards and D-men playing stronger, thus helping to boost Andersen’s numbers? Honestly, does it matter? Like most things, it is probably a mixture of both. “His poise and his size,” said Yawney in reference to his thoughts on the most impressive aspects of Andersen’s game. “He is very confident in net and has a calming effect on the team,” he continued.
The team didn’t come away with 4 straight wins over the last couple of weekend sets, so there was still some misfiring along the way. Their game in Washington D.C. against the Hershey Bears last week was described by Trent Yawney as “the sloppiest game we’ve played all year.” Scoring first is important for this team through the first quarter of the season, but it doesn’t always guarantee the win. So, what happened in D.C.? It may have been a little bit of over-confidence when McMillan scored just 10 seconds into the first period. “Sometimes, when you score early, you think it is going to be easy. Sometimes, the reverse is true for the opposition. They say, ‘uh-oh’, and dial it in. I think that’s exactly what happened in Washington,” said Yawney.
Hockey is filled with a number of cliches: “the best offense is a good defense”, “the best defense is a good offense”, “defense wins championships”, etc., etc. The team’s defense has certainly picked up, and there is typically a bit of truth to all of those cliches. According to Yawney, a strong defense can be the jump-start necessary for shifting momentum. “Being good defensively is usually the beginning of a good offensive play,” said Yawney. “We want to play defense fast and aggressive. It’s not a prevent defense where we are going to just allow teams to attack us,” he continued.
So, what are the team goals? Well, the coach and players tend to be a bit “hush-hush” about details, but “anything less than 4 points is a disappointment, right?,” said Holland with a smirk in reference to this weekend’s home games against Bridgeport. The Admirals are 10 and 3 when they score first. “Playing more of a team game and getting off to quick starts”, said Holland when asked about how to keep their winning ways alive. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror and realize that even though we scored a quick goal, we can’t take our foot off the pedal,” he continued.
Tonight, the Admirals look to put the pedal to the floor against a strong opponent in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. What are your thoughts on the team’s recent success? Do the words of the coach and Peter Holland ring true with what you’ve seen? Let us know and comment!
After getting the majority of starts over the past couple weeks, it appears that Frederik Andersen has emerged as the #1 netminder for the time being. Igor Bobkov, though, is a man with quite the upside and a lot of potential. The coaching staff is behind him 100%. “We still believe in him and he is going to get his opportunities,” said Yawney. We will find out tonight if that means he gets the starting role.
It was noted during Wednesday’s practice that Smaby was not on the ice. Eventually he emerged from the locker room with his arm in a sling. No word on the significance of the injury or his expected time out of the lineup.
Nate Guenin was also not on the ice during Wednesday’s practice. Unfortunately, I do not have any official word on his absence, whether or not he’ll be playing tonight, or to what extent his injury may be.