Admirals announcer continues father’s legacy
Tony Hrkac may be relatively unknown even among ardent hockey fans. But for Matt Moore and his father, Keith, he created a unique bond.
Hrkac played for the Milwaukee Admirals on two occasions, starting from 1994 to 1997 in the International League. He moved up to the NHL, then returned to the Admirals in 2003, when they were Nashville’s AHL affiliate. He effectively finished his career there in 2005.
Although Hrkac made a brief comeback with the Houston Aeros, his legacy is clearly in Milwaukee. During his stints there, both Moores called his name (it rhymes with circus) frequently and distinctly. He was the Admirals’ captain and later had his number retired by the franchise.
“To honor my dad’s memory, I always used to announce Tony’s name the same way as my dad,” Matt Moore told Pucks and Recreation. “Like my dad, I would loudly draw out Tony’s name for a long time before finally adding in his last name.
“I got to know Tony as a friend during his second time in Milwaukee after his NHL career, and we were able to share memories of his time there.”
One of those moments again involved Hrkac. In one regular season game, he scored in overtime to give the Admirals a 1-0 victory.
In fact, Matt’s life is full of Admirals’ memories. He spent his entire upbringing in Milwaukee, and capitalized on his close connection to the team.
“When my dad announced for the Admirals in the early-to-mid-’80s, my younger brother, sister, family or friends would go to the Mecca, Wilson Park or Bradley Center and watch the games. In the Mecca, we would always sit in the same spot around Section 200 directly across from where my dad would be announcing the games. We went to 20-to-25 games a year, so we were often there.”
Growing up, Matt was not alone as an Admirals fan who parlayed his passion to a post with the team. One of his childhood friends now portrays the mascot, Roscoe.
“It is funny that we both were raised as fans and ended up working for the team,” Moor remarked.
While the Admirals have called multiple downtown rinks home over the years, they settled back in the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in 2016. Formerly known as the Mecca, this is where the Moore family tradition began and continues.
“Whenever I get tickets for family or friends, I always try to put them in the same section that my dad did,” Matt said. “Right across from the PA announcer’s booth.
“It is pretty cool to start seeing people there from where my dad called games for many years.”
For Matt, however, the road he followed in his father’s footsteps was no royal inheritance. It was a life-long journey.
“My dad did not just announce Admirals’ games as a full-time job,” he explained. “He worked in radio and television. Growing up, I had always wanted to be like him. I went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for broadcasting, hoping to get involved in sports media.”
When Keith passed in 1998, Matt expressed interest in the void his father left in the announcing booth. After two-and-a-half years as a roaming PA announcer, Moore assumed play-calling responsibilities at the start of the 2001-02 season.
In this role, Moore’s voice is heard after goals, penalties and during timeouts. He even conducts on-ice interviews during intermissions. While the team has clinched its only championship (2004) to date on the road, Moore has had many memorable moments.
“While I wish they had won the Calder Cup at home, I did see the Calder Cup awarded to another team on their ice,” remarked Moore. That would be the 2006 Calder Cup Final, which Milwaukee lost in six games to the Hershey Bears.
“On a happier note, a memorable playoff moment came in 2011 against the Texas Stars,” Moore continued. “In this game, they were badly outplayed but they somehow made it to double-overtime. In that overtime, Marc van Guilder finally scored and the place went nuts.
“With the Predators about to be eliminated (in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs), we thought it was the start of another playoff run. Even though they lost to Houston in the next series, it was still a cool memory.”
Aside from playoff memories, Moore recalls one crazy regular season game as well.
“Once while they played the Chicago Wolves, they were going to host a post-game concert with the Dropkick Murphys. The place was packed and the final score was something like 7-6. By the end of that game, I had lost my voice,” laughed Moore.
Outside of hockey, Moore spoke fondly about meeting members of the Green Bay Packers including interviewing former wide receiver Donald Driver on the ice. He even got to emcee the rally when the team won its Calder Cup.
These opportunities certainly provide a unique opportunity for Moore, who spends the rest of his time as a district bank manager.
However, perhaps most significant for Moore are the glimpses he gets into his dad’s time as the announcer.
“In my time working for the Admirals, I have gotten to know the officials, game operators and other staff members who remember my dad,” he said. “I feel like I know more about him through them.
“My dad believed in me and as long as I tried my hardest, he was proud. He came to every game, and he was a great role model. He inspires me to be a role model for my kids.”