After playing just 13 of their first 35 games at home, the Norfolk Admirals begin a five-game, two-week home stand tonight with the first of back-to-back games against the Connecticut Whale at Norfolk Scope.
The Admirals will receive some assistance between the pipes as netminder Cedrick Desjardins has returned from his first career stint in the NHL. Desjardins started two games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning both while stopping 61 of the first 63 NHL shots he has faced in his pro career. Desjardins was reassigned to Norfolk after the Lightning acquired veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson in a trade with the New York Islanders last Saturday night.
Admirals captain Chris Durno says the team was happy to see Desjardins have such a successful NHL debut.
"He really deserved the chance with the big club," said Durno. "He's played well everywhere he's gone. A lot of the guys were very excited to see him play well."
The Admirals are in the midst of a five-game winless streak where they have scored only nine goals. They currently find themselves in a dogfight for the second spot in the AHL's East Division. Norfolk's newest rival, the Charlotte Checkers (20-12-1-4, 45 points) have a one-point lead on the Admirals (18-9-6-2, 44 points) for second place while the Admirals' oldest rival, the Hershey Bears (21-13-0-1, 43 points) trail Norfolk by only one point in fourth place.
This weekend, Norfolk returns home where they have won just five of thirteen games. "The guys have to start learning how to win at home," said Admirals Captain Chris Durno after a fast-paced team practice Wednesday afternoon. They will have a good opportunity to do so with the first two-week stretch of the 2010-11 season without travel.
Norfolk's special teams will also receive a boost with the addition of NHL veteran Marc-Andre Bergeron to the blueline. Bergeron was signed by the Lightning on Tuesday and was assigned to the Admirals yesterday. During the previous two seasons, the offensive defenseman has ranked tied for fourth in the NHL among defensemen in goals with 27. Last season with the Montreal Canadiens, Bergeron netted 13 goals and 34 points in 60 games. Twenty-two of his 34 points – including seven of his 13 goals – came on the power play. His blistering shot and passing vision will be a welcome addition to an Admirals power play that has failed to score a goal in 16 of its last 22 games.
The Admirals have plenty of exciting promotions and giveaways scheduled over the five-game homestand. The first 750 kids aged 14 and under through the gates tonight will receive Admirals Zamboni Banks courtesy of JPM Financial Services, John's Tax Service and WAVY-10 & Fox43.
Saturday night's rematch with the Whale will be Special Olympics Night presented by SunTrust. For a limited time, Red Level Tickets for the event are available for only $10 – you save $4and a portion of the proceeds will go to Special Olympics of Virginia. To receive the discounted tickets, the tickets must be purchased before 11:59 p.m. on Friday Jan. 7th. The event will include in-game demonstrations by local Olympians, a ceremonial puck-drop, raffle prizes, and a Dream Team.
After this weekend's matchup with the Whale, the Admirals will return to the ice on Tuesday night to take on the Charlotte Checkers. The road team has won all six meetings between the teams this season so far. This will be the fifth of six meetings between the teams at Scope during the 2010-11 regular season. The Admirals will be looking for revenge as the Checkers swept two games between the teams at Scope after the holiday break.
Tuesday night's matchup between the Admirals and Checkers will be another Family Fun Pack Night, presented by SunTrust. Family Fun Packs include four Red Level Tickets, four hot dogs, four popcorns and four sodas for only $48. That is a savings of $37!
Tuesday's game will also be another Student Rush Night at Scope. Student Rush Nights include all Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday home games. All students have to do is show their valid, current student ID at the Scope Box Office after 2:00 p.m. on the day of the game and receive a White Level ticket for just $8 (normally $12). High School and College IDs are accepted.
To wrap-up the home stand, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, along with former Admiral defenseman Ty Wishart, will invade Scope on January 14th and 15th. Wishart joined the Sound Tigers after Bridgeport's NHL affiliate, the New York Islanders, acquired him in the deal that sent Dwayne Roloson to the Lightning.
"We embraced Ty while he was here, but now he is just another player … another foe," said Durno when asked how the team would react to seeing Wishart on the other blueline. "It seems like any night I play, I'm playing against a former teammate, so it's nothing new," said Durno.
This will be the only trip the Sound Tigers make to Scope this season. The Sound Tigers defeated the Admirals in both games between the teams this season, both taking place in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
On Friday, Jan. 14th, the first 500 kids aged 12 and under will receive an Admirals Youth Jersey, courtesy of ITAC and WTKR NewsChannel3.
The final game of the home stand, Saturday, Jan. 15th, will be the Admirals fourth-annual Pink in the Rink to Benefit Susan G. Komen For The Cure. For this event, the ice will be tinted a shade of pink and will seek to raise awareness about breast cancer while raising funds for the Tidewater Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Special $12 Red Level Tickets will be available for the game with a portion of proceeds being donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Events leading up to and during the game include a breast cancer informational session, survivor participation during game night, "Hockey 101" and a silent auction for player-autographed Tampa Bay Lightning items. The "Hockey 101" will be held starting at 6:15 p.m. Seating is based on a first-come, first-served basis. Game time is 7:15 p.m.
With plenty of events and activities taking place, there is never a dull moment at a Norfolk Admirals hockey game. Individual tickets for all regular season games start at just $12. Tickets are available now at the Scope Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at ticketmaster.com.