It's been relatively bleak times for Sconnie sports fans. The Bucks shockingly bombed out of the playoffs in the first round (sorry for the reminder), the Brewers have somewhat cooled off since their hot start and we're all bracing for a not-so-golden transition year for the Green & Gold.
But there is sporting hope out there, Brew City fans – hope sailing over the horizon, steered across the frozen pond with a large orange mythical dog-like sea creature guiding the way.
Yes, while every other Milwaukee sports team has fallen short recently, the Milwaukee Admirals are thriving, skating into the next round of the AHL playoffs and on a journey to nab another Calder Cup, hoping to raise it for the first time since 2004. The next stop? The Western Conference Finals against the Coachella Valley Firebirds, currently all tied up at two games a piece with Game 5 set for Saturday, June 3 at home at the UWM Panther Arena.
In case a run to the championship wasn't exciting enough to get you into the Downtown arena, grabbing tickets as well as your cowbell and giving the Ads a home ice advantage like none other, here are five reasons why you should get all aboard this postseason hockey push.
For those who don't know (and honestly, if you don't at this point, please pop on Zillow and find a new place so you can move out from under that rock) the Milwaukee Admirals are the AHL affiliate team for the Nashville Predators in the NHL. What that means is that you're seeing pro-level hockey with a lot of legitimately pro-level hockey players, with guys taking the ice in Milwaukee prepping and staying primed for the next level.
What that ALSO means is that, when the NHL season is over for the Nashville Predators, if the Admirals are still playing, some of those guys come back to Milwaukee to keep playing, keep honing their skills and keep competitive. And I'm sad/thrilled to report that the Nashville Predators narrowly missed the ongoing NHL postseason – which means the Admirals' current playoff roster is well-stocked with a bunch of NHL-calibur skaters who may not be able to win the Stanley Cup but can take home the Calder Cup instead. That includes guys like Kiefer Sherwood, Zach Sanford, Luke Evangelista and Mark Jankowski, who played more than half the season up with Nashville and was last seen assisting on two of the Admirals' five goals in their series-tying Game 4 victory over the Coachella Valley.
The Milwaukee Admirals have been strong all season long, earning second place in the Central Division and obviously a place in a now-deep postseason run. Now they get to continue that run with a completely stocked roster of some of their best guys, showcasing NHL talent for the future as well as the present. So, to fittingly paraphrase "Star Wars" to the Coachella Valley Firebirds: Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational hockey franchise.
2. A flair for the dramatic
The Admirals certainly gave fans their money's worth in the first round of the postseason, winning two must-win games in a row down 2-1 in the series to defeat the Manitoba Moose in a full five games. And I mean a FULL five games, as the decisive final spat went down to almost the final seconds.
SPENCER STASTNEY’S GAME WINNER pic.twitter.com/hmJLncnHHb — x - Milwaukee Admirals (@mkeadmirals) May 7, 2023
The Heart Attack Admirals continued their heart-palpitating ways against the Texas Stars, again taking the series through all five rounds and coming back from behind in two of their victories – including two goals in the final ten minutes of the third game, the winner hitting the back of the net in practically the final minute. At least they were more forgiving to our nerves in the last game of the series, immediately pummelling four goals into the net in the first period.
ISAAC RATCLIFFE’S GAME WINNER ð¨ pic.twitter.com/orZJTg3H8S — x - Milwaukee Admirals (@mkeadmirals) May 18, 2023
Hockey is always great – but playoff hockey is another level, always delivering end-to-end action and thrilling to the final horn. Quite literally, as the Admirals proved in the first round against the Moose, in that third game against the Stars and already in the first four games against the Firebirds, coming back not only from two games down but coming back behind a goal in each of their two home victories. So here's to the Ads delivering even more satisfying thrills in these final battles against Coachella Valley in the Western Conference Finals ... but maybe without any more blood pressure spikes. (Though if it comes with a W, I'm game.)
3. Fun for fans casual, crazed and confused
Have you read the last two blurbs and been extremely confused because your only hockey knowledge is the "Mighty Ducks" movies? Well, don't feel left out in the cold – because this Admirals playoff push is for you too.
Sure, Admirals hockey is thrilling for hockey fans casual and crazed, getting to watch present and future Predators prove their mettle on the Milwaukee ice. But the team puts on a great show no matter if you have any idea what icing means or not. With Roscoe the mascot running around the rink interacting with attendees, intermission entertainment like the beloved human hockey puck, tasty food and drink all around the UWM Panther Arena, sweet gear in the pro shop and just the electric energy of a crowd of fans roaring, raging, rallying and ringing cowbells for every crash into the boards and on-goal attack. All hockey fans know the postseason is pure, uncut sporting bliss – so if you're looking to get into the sport or see what this Canadian favorite is all about, there's no better time to dive in. You'll probably learn how to do the "sieve" chant in no time.
4. Excitement beyond the rink
If you can't make it to the UWM Panther Arena for Saturday's critical Game 5 in this best-of-seven series against the Firebirds, that's unfortunate – but don't feel like your Admirals fandom is sunk! The series – and the excitement – will roar on after these home games as the Admirals will host a number of playoff watch parties, keeping the cheering going in Milwaukee even if the team's battling it out far off in the Pacific Time Zone.
For the potentially decisive Game 6 at 9 p.m. on Monday, June 5, out on the Firebirds' home ice, the Admirals will host a watch party at Steny's in Walker's Point, where hopefully the Ads will clinch their Calder Cup spot or live to see a Game 7. If there is one final winner-takes-all Game 7, the official details are not determined yet, but previously the Ads held watch parties at Major Goolsby's and Buck Bradley's, close by the Ads' home ice at the UWM Panther Arena.
For more information and updates on the watch parties, visit the Admirals' website or social media. But really, the only information you need to know is represent the hometown hockey club, gather with your fellow Ads allies and cheer loud enough that our home rink advantage travels all the way to the West Coast.
5. Milwaukee hockey history
No big deal: This is only the Admirals' most successful season in almost 20 years.
While Milwaukee's been a regular visitor to the Calder Cup playoffs, this is the first time since 2006 that the team's made it all the way to the conference finals. In that series, the team would go on to defeat the Grand Rapids Griffins in a clean four-game sweep – so here's to history repeating itself against Coachella Valley this year. Moving onto the Calder Cup finals, the 2006 Admirals then unfortunately lost in six games to the Hershey Bears – so here's to history NOT repeating itself in that respect.
Anyways, no matter the results, this Ads squad is already achieved a lot. But let's be greedy, achieve even more at the Coachella Valley Firebirds' expense and make the Calder Cup finals. There, we would play against ... well, well, well, would you look at that, it's the Hershey Bears again. So let's hoist another Calder Cup while getting long-overdue revenge on the Hershey Bears!
I'm getting ahead of myself, though: First let's extinguish the Firebirds. For tickets and more information on tonight's home playoff game or on Monday's watch party at Steny's, click here. And get on board the Admirals' ship to hopefully the championship!
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.