By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Apr 21, 2005 at 5:23 AM

{image1} Only last week, this writer expressed the fear that the Admirals could be playing in their last playoffs in Milwaukee.

Then, Harris Turer, Mark Attanasio and others stepped forward. Now the Ads have more optimism for the future than they have had for quite some time.

More on the ownership in a minute. First, let's take a glance at the on-the-ice picture in the playoffs.

Coach Claude Noel's Admirals are the defending American Hockey League champs. They finished second to the Chicago Wolves in the Western Division this regular season.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of their performance on the ice the last couple years was the fact the team was not even assured of existing after this season. The trust fund board of the late Jane Pettit made it clear it no longer wanted to be in the hockey business. Yet, the Ads kept playing and winning.

Rumors of a buyer go back to last summer, but nothing was happening in public until last week. A group headed by Whitefish Bay's Turer, who also is an investor in the Brewers left over from the Selig group, announced the purchase of the Ads.

Noel will field a team that could win it all again in the AHL. Simon Gamache made first team All AHL after leading the Ads in scoring and ranking among the league leaders. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis made second team AHL for his play during the regular season.

Goalie Brian Finley set a franchise record for wins with 36. Jordin Tootoo, who I mention primarily because I love his name, went on a scoring spree at the end of the season after returning to the team from injuries.

Also returning from injuries last week were wing Darren Haydar and center Wyatt Smith. Both should help in the playoffs.

The Ads actually played their first playoff game against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks Wednesday night. Their next game is Friday (see Hot Tix section of this column).

Turning back to the new ownership, Turer seems committed to making the Admirals a big part of the state sports scene again. He personally greeted fans at Friday's game.

Turer, 39, who made his money in property management, said he did not want to see the Admirals fade away.

"I have a great love for sports within our community," says Turer, a lifetime resident of Milwaukee. "The Admirals are a fantastic asset to the Milwaukee sports landscape, and I look forward, along with the rest of our ownership group, to providing an affordable and entertaining experience for fans when they visit the Bradley Center."

Turer says he remembers seeing the Admirals play as a kid. He now brings his son, Brandon, to games.

Jon Greenberg, the former Brewers' PR director and new president of the Admirals, joined Turer in greeting fans. "This is an amazing opportunity to work with a dynamic new ownership group," says Greenberg, who admitted the move from the Brewers was a big one since he started with the team as a batboy and worked his way up.

"I am excited about what the future holds for the Milwaukee Admirals and their fans, and grateful for the legacy left by Jane Pettit since 1976."

Look for Attanasio, the principal owner of the Brewers, to play a more behind-the-scenes role with the Ads, but his expertise for putting together investor groups and his deep pockets will be valuable.

The Admirals also made the good decision to keep "Mr. Admiral" -- Phil Wittliff -- with the organization. Wittliff is invaluable in his knowledge of the game, the organization and community.

There is plenty of work to be done. The Admirals were down to a handful of front office employees and could do very little promotion and marketing.

They need to rebuild their image in the sports community. But, they start with a good team on the ice, which might be the most important asset of all. Another AHL championship wouldn't hurt their efforts to rebuild.

Wave Next into Playoffs

The Wave clinched its regular season championship last weekend. They will wrap up the regular season this weekend. Playoffs in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) will start the weekend of April 29-May 1.

If the Wave gets to the Championship Series on May 14, it will appear on ESPN2, which announced last week it will carry the finals. Game One of that series will be held at the U.S. Cellular Arena whether the Wave is in it or not.

See more on the Wave in the playoffs next week.

Player of the Week

Brady Clark had 11 hits in a five-game stretch last week for the Brewers and receives the Sports Buzz Player of the Week honor. Clark also is showing he can patrol center field just fine.

Clark joins Russell Branyan, who received last week's Player of the Week honor, Junior Spivey for the first week and Carlos Lee, who received the designation for spring training.

Hot Tix

The Admirals played their first AHL playoff game Wednesday night. Their second will be in Cincinnati Friday. The teams return to the Bradley Center for games at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Monday.

At the U.S. Cellular Arena, the Wave will wrap up its regular season with a 1:05 p.m. contest Sunday against the Baltimore Blast. The Wave travels to Cleveland the previous night.

The Brewers are in San Francisco this weekend. The Bucks finished their season last Tuesday night.

Other spring and summer sports are about ready to begin. The Milwaukee Bombers Aussie Rules football team will play an exhibition game against the Minnesota Freeze at 12:30 p.m. this Saturday in La Crosse. You can also take a cruise down the Mississippi River on the La Crosse Queen as part of the package. The event is in conjunction with ANZAC Day, a big celebration in Australia.

The Bombers also are fielding a women's team this season. You can see more at The Bombers regular season starts May 7.

Wave United, the outdoor soccer team, will play a 10-game schedule from June through August. Four of the games will be part of the Wave United Festival Soccer Tour and will be tied in with Polish Fest, Festa Italiana, German Fest and Mexican Fiesta. All games will be played at Uihlein Soccer Park. WU will not play in the United Soccer League this year.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.