By Aaron Sims
So, it’s been a year.
A year without AHL hockey in Milwaukee. A. WHOLE. YEAR.
I remember the last road trip. We started in Colorado, went to Austin and ended in San Antonio. We had a week in Austin. It was great. I learned how to two-step at the Broken Spoke. I visited an old high school friend. While we were in Austin, we learned the annual SXSW was canceled. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it. I had no idea how the season would turn out for the Milwaukee Admirals.
The Admirals played at San Antonio on Sunday afternoon. It was a win for Milwaukee and, it turned out, was the last game ever played by the San Antonio Rampage in front of their fans. It had become official on Feb. 28 the Rampage would be moving to Henderson, NV, and become the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. I’m sure the great fans in San Antonio thought they would get a proper goodbye the next month.
On the flight back to Milwaukee, a high school band was on the plane. I remember one girl, who sat across the aisle and a row in front of me, was passing out Clorox wipes to the 100-or-so kids in the party. The flight attendant was quite upset by this. She warned the students that the wipes needed to be disposed of properly.
Milwaukee hosted San Antonio for a school day game on Wed, March 11. We didn’t know it would be the last game played. Michael McCarron scored the final goal of the season in a 6-1 Admirals win. It was the last game for the San Antonio Rampage.
After the game, the front office staff met at Major Goolsby’s for lunch and chatter. We then went our separate ways.
The NBA’s Rudy Gobert became the sports world’s “Patient Zero” that night. The Seattle Mariners had already been researching the possibility of playing Major League Baseball at its Spring Training site. Sports, all of them, stepped away soon thereafter.
The following Monday, during the hiatus, Mike Wojciechowski and I did our radio show as we normally do. Later that week, I took my radio equipment to my house. It has been there ever since.
We all thought the break would be a couple weeks. Then, the athletes were told to go home. Uh-oh. Still, maybe there was a shot we could finish the season. It had been such a special regular season for the Admirals. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see it through to a proper end.
I think about that San Antonio team. Those fans lost their team and didn’t get the chance to say a proper goodbye. Maybe some of you had that experience with loved ones this past year. That thought fills me with sorrow.
Sports have resumed. Hopefully more fans will be heading to games in person in the near future. While the Admirals opted out of the season, many of the players are getting a shot with the NHL’s Nashville Predators.
It’s been a year of frustration, no doubt. I eagerly await my chance at the vaccine. I am so excited to see that we’re starting to see the light at the end of all this.
It’s been a year with experiences we never dreamed we could have. Let’s flip the calendar and look to better days.
Stay well, everyone. We’ll see you at the rink in October.