Friday night marked the final Regular season home game for the Milwaukee Admirals at the BMO Harris Bradley Center before moving venues to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena next season. It also marked the end of the Admirals’ 13-game point streak as the Bakersfield Condors spoiled the night with a 5-2 win over Milwaukee.
Admirals streak snapped
Coming into the game, the Admirals had rattled off 13-straight games with at least a point earned in the standings that started back on March 13 with a 5-1 win over the Iowa Wild. Over those 13 games, the Admirals went 11-0-2 and jumped all the way to the top of the AHL Central Division with a shot at challenging the Ontario Reign for the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Condors came into Milwaukee already knowing that their season would be over after Saturday night, but didn’t mean that they couldn’t come into an atmosphere like the one in the Bradley Center on Friday night and play the spoiler. Bakersfield came into the game having won only three of their last eight games over the same span of time that the Admirals had been on their streak.
The first period saw both teams have ample chances to open up the scoring, but would hold off until the mid-point of the period when the Admirals would score on their first power-play chance of the night. The puck would be worked around to Vladislav Kamenev, who then would feed a beautiful cross-ice pass to Pontus Aberg, and Aberg would score from the left circle to give the Admirals a 1-0 lead. For Aberg, it would be his 25th goal of the season and 40th point of the season, both career highs.
The Condors would tie the game just five minutes later as a loose puck was poked away from the crease by Admirals goaltender Juuse Saros, but scooped up and fired to the back of the net by Dillon Simpson. The First period would end even at 1-1.
The second period saw the game open up for the Condors, and the Admirals defense play uncharacteristically sloppy in their own end. Just two minutes into the second, the Condors would take a 2-1 lead on a broken play that ended with a rebound given up after Josh Currie put a shot on net and Philip McRae scoring on an open-net.
The Admirals would fall into a 3-1 hole after a nifty tic-tac-toe play was put together by McRae and Currie that unded up with Currie at the front of the net and he would score his ninth goal of the season. “We shot ourselves,” Admirals head coach Dean Evason said. “When we haven’t had success this year, it’s things that we have done. Turnovers, mistakes, and playing against a club that has played well, it’s a bad combination for us.”
With just seconds to play in the middle period, though, the Admirals would have momentum shift to their side as Max Reinhart, who had an earlier breakaway chance denied, would get a shot at redemption and score on a second breakaway chance to cut the Condors lead to 3-2 after two periods.
That would be as close as it would get as the Condors would add two more goals in the third period to complete the 5-2 win over the Admirals. Saros would finish with 28 saves on 33 shots, suffering just his eighth loss of the season.
Aberg continues late-season production
The Admirals success over the past month has coincided with a tremendous month of play from Aberg. Since March 13 and heading into Friday night’s game, Aberg has tallied 16 points (8 Goals, 8 Assists). Adding his goal against the Condors, he has 17 points in the last 14 games and 40 points on the season. Over half of his total season production has come in the last month and a half of play.
“I’m just trying to work hard. The puck didn’t bounce my way before this streak, but I think I’m just in the right spot at the right time. I’ve been lucky for a while.” Aberg said of his play recently, adding that his game hasn’t changed but the “puck luck” has.
Admirals say Goodbye to Bradley Center
As stated before, Friday night’s game was the last regular season game for the Admirals in the BMO Harris Bradley Center before the team moves across the street to their new home at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for next season. The Admirals have played at the Bradley Center since it was constructed in 1988. The arena was built and funded as a gift to the State of Wisconsin by broadcaster Lloyd Pettit and his wife, Jane Bradley Pettit.
The Bradley Center served as the home to the Admirals as well as the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette University Basketball teams, numerous concerts, the NCAA Frozen Four on three occasions, and hosting multiple rounds of the NCAA March Madness tournament. But the Bradley center will always be remembered as being built for hockey.
This is the memorial video the Admirals played post-game on Friday night:
The Admirals have already clinched home-ice in their first-round matchup in the Calder Cup Playoffs, so there will be at least two more games in the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but it couldn’t have been a more fitting tribute to a great arena for hockey.
Admirals and IceHogs close out the regular season
The final regular season game for the Admirals will be in Rockford as they take on their Central Division rival, the Rockford IceHogs, to close the regular season Saturday night. It looked as if the IceHogs would be the likely opponent for the Admirals in the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, but with Rockford beating the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday night, it looks as if the Griffins will face the Admirals in the opening round. Nothing set in stone just yet though. Saturday night’s season finale is set for a 7 p.m. puck drop at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.
Not to be confused with the BMO Harris Bradley Center. That’s in Milwaukee.