Tonight is a slight ending of an era. The Milwaukee Admirals are playing their final regular season game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. There will still be playoff hockey and, hopefully, many more home games to come. Yet, this is the regular season finale of the Admirals home for the last 28 seasons of hockey. If there were ever a night where you can really let those feelings bleed out it should be tonight. The playoffs are emotional enough as it is without the reminder that the building that the Pettits placed downtown with pro hockey in mind isn’t going to be around much longer.
~Bradley Center By The Numbers~
So, what of the Admirals and the Bradley Center itself? There are many facts, figures, and notes that are worth having as you enter the building for the last regular season game.
The Admirals record at the Bradley Center is 634-357-17-32-73 from 1,112 games. Their playoff record is 48-49 from 97 playoff games. As of the Admirals last home game the total attendance at the Bradley Center is 7,784,884. The first ever Admirals game took place on October 2, 1988 with the Admirals losing a 5-4 exhibition contest against Team Canada. The first official regular season game happened on Friday, October 7, 1988 against the Salt Lake Golden Eagles which ended with a 6-5 Admirals win under the watch of head coach Rick Ley.
Who were the Admirals individual leaders at the Bradley Center? Games Played: Mike McNeill, 442 (1992-98)… Points: Tony Hrkac, 320 (1994-97, 2003-05)… Goals: Gino Cavallini, 139 (1993-96)… Penalty Minutes: Ken Sabourin, 1233 (1993-98).
~Playoff House Keeping~
Before getting further into tonight’s game specifically let’s address the developments of last night in the AHL. The Lake Erie Monsters beat the Charlotte Checkers by a final score of 3-1. By doing that the Monsters elevated themselves in such a way that they cannot possibly fall to fourth place to become the Admirals opening round playoff opponent. This means it all comes down to the Grand Rapids Griffins and Rockford IceHogs who are currently tied for third place in the Central Division and actually play against each other tonight.
As a result, the Admirals were able to announce dates for the first two games of their opening round:
Lake Erie’s win tonight means the Ads first round playoff opponent has been narrowed to Grand Rapids or Rockford where there will be a 2-2-1 playoff format. The Admirals will host the first two games and the possible fifth game with the opening two games taking place next Friday and Saturday at 7pm.
~The Last Dance Partner~
As far as being titled the final regular season opponent for the Admirals at the Bradley Center goes there is something odd about it being someone such as the Bakersfield Condors. They aren’t a storied rival. They aren’t even a potential playoff opponent. Instead, they’re really just an irritated passenger kicking your backseat crying out for, “are we there yet, while waiting for their regular season’s curtain to drop.
The Condors enter tonight’s game with a record of 29-28-7-2 (67 points). Their 0.508 points percentage has them in fifth place of the Pacific Division and tenth place of the Western Conference standings. They have been eliminated from playoff contention as the last two remaining teams competing for the eighth and final playoff spot from the Western Conference comes down to the San Jose Barracuda (0.538) and Charlotte Checkers (0.533) in that flex spot of fourth in the Pacific Division.
As the Condors swoop into Milwaukee they do so on a slight high note having beaten the Stockton Heat on home ice by an electric 6-3 final scoreline. That being said, the Condors have been crawling to the finish line of the 2015-16 season in agony. They have 6 wins from their last 21 games. All that’s left in their regular season are a pair of road games against the Admirals and Griffins. So, it doesn’t get much better for them.
~Who What Now?~
The Condors leading scorer is Matthew Ford who has collected 49 points (26 goals, 23 assists) from 62 games.
Right behind Ford on the team’s scoring list for this season is actually someone no longer with their team, Andrew Miller. If you remember the Condors and Checkers actually got involved in something of an AHL trade that saw Miller get loaned for the rest of the season to the Checkers with noted fan of Admirals Roundtable Zach Boychuk loaned from the Checkers to the Condors for the rest of the season. This move has been a bit of a bust for both as neither has found the same level of form with their new clubs. Boychuk has accumulated 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in 14 games with the Condors and Miller has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 10 games.
In net the Condors have been given a boost thanks to the Oilers season being over. Laurent Brossoit was reassigned to the AHL after the completion of the NHL season. The 23-year old has done supremely well for himself this season and saw that rewarded with a two-year contract extension in late-February.
Brossoit’s season to date includes 29 games at the AHL level with the Condors where he has posted a 16-9-3-2 record with a 2.70 goals against average, 0.919 save percentage, and 3 shutouts. At the NHL level this season for the Oilers he hasn’t tasted that same level of success: 5 games played, 0-4-1 record, 3.60 goals against average, and a 0.873 save percentage.
~The Reinhart Family Reunion~
One thing that should be plenty of fun to watch tonight is how often there will be a brother against brother match-up on the ice. Max Reinhart will be going up against his younger brother Griffin Reinhart who plays as a defensemen in the Edmonton Oilers system. Griffin was a fourth overall draft selection of the New York Islanders at the 2012 NHL Draft but was traded to the Oilers for draft picks. He has split his debut season to the Oilers organization between the NHL and AHL in 2015-16: Oilers (NHL), 29 games, 1 point (0 goals, 1 assist), 20 penalty minutes, and a plus/minus rating of -6. Condors (AHL), 28 games, 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists), 16 penalty minutes, and a plus/minus rating of +2.
This will be the first time the two brothers have played against each other as professional hockey players. They did play junior hockey against one another eight times with Max and Griffin both playing in the WHL. Their first head-to-head in juniors came back on 10/19/10. Max that first season produced a 5 point night (3 goals, 2 assists) against Griffin on 1/12/11. They then both scored in the same game against one-another on 1/18/11. Then the two played against each other in the opening round of the 2012 WHL Playoffs where Griffin’s Edmonton Oil Kings swept Max’s Kootenay Ice. On 3/28/12 of that playoff series Sam Reinhart suited up for the Ice alongside Max playing against Griffin. Quite the hockey family, eh Paul Reinhart?
I did get the chance to attend practice yesterday morning to get a further look at the Admirals ahead of this weekend’s games – I will be attending both tonight’s home game and the season finale on the road in Rockford. As far as how the line combinations looked it wasn’t anything new as far as the Admirals last game was concerned:
It’s worth noting that those (located here) were not your go-to options during line drills. That meant A.J. White was favored to the likes of Anthony Richard who is currently nursing a lower-body injury at the moment. The two young guns on defense, Jack Dougherty and Aaron Irving, both paired together with Irving operating on the left-side and Dougherty to his stronger right-side. I get the impression both wouldn’t be tabbed to play seeing the main defensive nucleus is there just as it was when the Admirals defeated the Chicago Wolves 3-1 on Tuesday.
Other bits and bobs to discuss: Taylor Aronson has yet to rejoin the Admirals since the team cited personal reasons for his absence. Cody Hodgson, who has been out for the Admirals last 19-games, is also not with the team at the moment as he is seeing treatment for back spasms which have plagued him this season. Johan Alm, who has missed the Admirals last 22 games since injuring his right knee, is with the team but purely on-hand in a supporting role as he slowly rehabs his way back to full-fitness.
Expectations for tonight’s game? Do you feel like the Admirals should shake up the defense to allow for the newbies to log some ice time or would you prefer the Admirals main core of players keep motoring on en route to the playoffs?
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