By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Mar 26, 2010 at 4:27 PM

With just seven regular-season games remaining on the schedule, the Admirals have one goal remaining: finish strong.

The team has been playing well as of late, three in a row before dropping a 3-2 decision Thursday night to Grand Rapids at the Bradley Center.

The loss kept Milwaukee, currently fourth in the West Division with 83 points, three points behind third-place Rockford and four behind second-place Texas ... and the Admirals really, really want to take one of those spots in order to avoid a first round matchup with Chicago, which is running away with the division.

"We've got to win every game we play," says head coach Lane Lambert. "We're not going to, but these games are all huge, it doesn't matter who we're playing."

The loss Thursday was discouraging for Lambert, who is frustrated by his team's tendency to fall into occasional lulls.

"We have a lot of veteran players; we shouldn't have these lulls," Lambert says. "We have to play with more urgency from top to bottom. When we do, we're a hard team to play against." For the Admirals finish the regular season on a high note, the coach needs to see some more consistency. Milwaukee has struggled offensively for the last few weeks, leaving little room for error. 

"We've lost some offense and we haven't scored a lot," Lambert said. "We need to find a way more scoring from our forwards."

Mike Santorelli's strong play in the offensive zone has helped the Admirals stay on track. He scored the game-winner on Tuesday and has at least one point in seven of his last eight games and with 48 points, is averaging better than a point a game this season. 

In goal, Mark Dekanich has helped to pick up the slack for the offense. Since early February, the second-year pro out of Colgate (Nashville's fifth-round pick in '06) has a 1.71 goals-against average, .939 save percentage and a 9-5-1 record since February 1 -- notching a pair of shutouts during that stretch and earning February AHL Goaltender of the Month hours. 

During the team's three-game winning streak, Dekanich allowed just four goals while making 89 saves.

"He's played well since the beginning of February," Lambert says. "As long as he plays well, he'll keep running with the ball."

The Admirals return to action tonight when they face the Griffins again; this time in Grand Rapids. Milwaukee is 12-2-0-2 in the second game of home-and-home series played on the road. 

In other action this weekend:


The Bucks continue their five-game home stand tonight when Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat come into the Bradley Center for a 7:30 p.m. contest. Milwaukee is trying to rebound from a tough loss Wednesday against Philadelphia, but still holds the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Badger basketball is done for the year, having lost to Cornell last weekend in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The postseason is just getting started for the UW hockey team, which faces Vermont in a First Round game tonight in St. Paul. The Badgers finished third in the WCHA and earned the top seed in the West Region. The puck drops at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast by ESPNU. Should Wisconsin win, the Badgers would advance to the Regional Final on Saturday.


Want to get your baseball fix in but can't afford the trip to Arizona? Try taking a ride down to Chicago, where the UWM Panthers face UIC in a double-header at Les Miller Field, 901 W. Roosevelt Rd. Game 1 is scheduled for Noon with the second game following at about 3 p.m.

If your brackets are taking a beating, get away from the TV and check out some live basketball when the Bucks host Memphis at 2 p.m. Fans 14 and under receive a free Bucks duffel bag.


If you're lucky enough to still have manageable brackets ... go away; we don't want to hear about it, ok? Sorry about that ... it was a rough weekend. The NCAA Tournament continues with Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games from Syracuse, N.Y., Salt Lake City, St. Louis and Houston. Both Wisconsin and Marquette are out, but you can still see which teams punch their tickets to Indianapolis this weekend. All games are carried by WDJT-TV (58).

The state's best girls high school basketball teams play for State Championships this weekend at the Kohl Center in Madison. On Friday, three local teams will be in action as New Berlin Eisenhower (24-2) meets Altoona (18-9) in a Division 2 semifinal at 3:15 Friday and Pius XI (24-3) facing Vincent (24-2) in a Division 1 semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Winners will advance to championship games on Saturday. If you can't get to Madison, WMLW-TV is carrying the games in Milwaukee.

The Badger Region Volleyball Association 2010 Tournament concludes this weekend at the Midwest Airlines Center. Get there for some great volleyball action.