On August 29, 2007, the Admirals announced the creation of the Admirals Hall of Fame, with the first class slated to be inducted on February 7, 2008. Since that time, 17 individuals have entered into the Admirals Hall of Fame with their plaques permanently affixed to the walls of venerable Norfolk Scope Arena and their names written on banners hanging in the Scope rafters over the player benches.
Below you will see each class of the Admirals Hall of Fame.
Class of 2015
A three-year Admiral who won one of the Admirals’ three ECHL championships, Randy Pearce becomes the 15th former player and 17th member overall inducted into the Admirals Hall of Fame. Pearce manned the left wing for Hampton Roads during parts of three seasons in 1991-92, 1992-93, and 1996-97.
Fresh out of junior hockey, Pearce signed with Hampton Roads at the age of 21, and proceeded to score an incredible 32 goals and 78 points in 55 games as a rookie to lead the team in goals, assists and points. The Kitchener, Ontario native led the Admirals into the 1991-92 Riley Cup Playoffs where he compiled five goals and nine assists for 14 points over the Admirals’ 11 postseason matches en route to their second-straight Riley Cup title.
His sophomore season was cut short by his call-ups to the Skipjacks, where he would register 17 points in 42 games, but he maintained his level of production in the ECHL while on the roster. Finishing the year tied for third on Hampton Roads in points-per-game (1.5), Pearce offered 24 points in his 16 outings.
The 1990 Washington Capitals’ fourth-round draft pick spent the following three seasons bouncing between the AHL and the International Hockey League (IHL), before making his return to southeast Virginia in 1996-97. Pearce thrived with the familiar change of scenery, scoring 27 goals and 72 points in all 70 games to tie for third on the team. Pearce and fellow winger Joel Poirier were the only two players to appear in every game that season, including the playoffs, for Hampton Roads. He was one of eight Admirals to log over 100 minutes in the sin bin, but one of only three skaters to average a point-per-game at the same time (D. Maltais, V. Gervais). Though the Admirals eventually fell to South Carolina in the playoffs, Pearce managed to contribute a goal and nine assists for 10 points in nine playoff contests, third-best on the team.
A 5-foot-11 and 200-pound forward, Pearce concluded his brief six-year career that same season, ultimately skating in 141 games for the Admirals, generating 69 goals and 105 assists for a total of 174 points. He ranks in the top 10 in scoring as a Hampton Roads Admiral in ninth, and is fourth among that group in points per game (1.23). Pearce is seventh all-time in Hampton Roads Admirals history in goals (69) and ninth in assists (105).
Randy Pearce was a prolific scorer and set-up man, and was a feisty competitor that ranks 17th in Admirals ECHL history in penalty minutes (344). His combination of finesse and physicality made him one of the franchise’s most exciting players to watch, and one of the greatest to call Scope home in the 26-year history of the Admirals.
Class of 2014
- 4-year Admiral
- 259 GP: 5th most in Hampton Roads Admirals era
- 2nd most Pts by defenseman (129)
- Most goals of any HR Admiral defenseman (37)
- 2nd in assists among HR Admiral defenseman (92) and 10th among all skaters
- Won Brophy’s third and final Kelly Cup in his second season with HR 97-98
- Tied for team playoff lead in assists (13)
- Tied for third on team in points during playoffs (15)
- Played in every game during championship run
- Scored three goals, including two game-winners in final two games of regular season to clinch final spot in playoffs
If not for defenseman Chad Ackerman, legendary former Admirals coach John Brophy wouldn’t have had a shot at a third ECHL Championship. With two games left in the 1997-98 regular season and the final playoff spot up for grabs, Ackerman delivered three goals including two game-winners to push the Admirals into the postseason.
The Minnesota native anchored the Hampton Roads blue line skating in all 20 playoff games on the road to the organization’s third league championship in eight seasons. His 13 assists tied for the team playoff lead and his 15 total points were third-best among Admirals in the postseason.
No other defenseman in Admirals’ ECHL history found the back of the net more than Ackerman did during his four seasons with Hampton Roads. He led team defensemen in goals in his first three seasons with the Admirals and was tops among the defensive corps in scoring in his final two campaigns.
From his rookie year in 1996 when he led the Admirals’ defenseman in goals (9), to his All-Star final season with Hampton Roads in 2000 when he led team defenseman in points (40) and assists (36), Ackerman piled up 37 goals and 92 assists in four seasons. His total of 129 points is second all-time for Admirals’ defenseman in the ECHL era and his 259 games played is fifth most in Hampton Roads Admirals history. The offensive-minded, yet extremely disciplined Ackerman only recorded 166 penalty minutes over the course of his four-year career in blue and gold.
Ackerman continued his ECHL career with Richmond and subsequently Trenton in 2000-2001. He retired as a Titan in 2006-07.
Chad Ackerman becomes the 16th member of the Admirals Hall of Fame since its establishment during the 2007-08 season and joins the likes of team founder Blake Cullen and his former coach John Brophy.
- 5-year Admiral
- 1st Season with Ads (95-96): 3rd on team in points (63), goals (31), assists (32)
- 2nd Season (96-97): Led Ads in points (97), goals (42) and second in assists (55) and PIM (211)
- 3rd Season (97-98): 17 points in 24 games; 5-7-12 in all 20 playoff games
- 4th Season (98-99): 3rd in goals (22), 2nd in assists (37), points (59), and PIM (217)
- 5th Season (99-00): 3rd in points (67), t-1st in goals (36), 8-2-10 in 10 playoff games, tied 2nd in PIM (199)
In 1995-96, Dominic Maltais stormed onto the scene in Hampton Roads in his first season with the club to the tune of 31 goals, 32 assists and 63 points, all third-best on the team.
Unlike most skillful attackers, Maltais’s game featured an edge that frequently landed him in the penalty box. His antics and antagonistic play on the ice made him a fan favorite during his five seasons in Norfolk. He accrued 163 penalty minutes in his initial season as an Admiral and was second on the team in total penalty minutes in his second (211), fourth (217), and fifth (199) seasons with Hampton Roads.
The right-winger flourished in his second season as an Admiral scoring 42 times and helping on 55 goals for 97 points, which tied for the seventh-highest total in the ECHL during the 1996-97 season. The following season, Maltais skated in England but would return to Hampton Roads to play an instrumental role in the Admirals’ championship run.
The Quebec native put up 11 goals and 17 points in 24 games in the 1997-98 regular season and skated in each of Hampton Roads’ 20 playoff games. Maltais contributed five goals and seven assists along with 44 penalty minutes, which ranked second on the team in the Admirals’ climb to their third Kelly Cup title.
He would stay in southeast Virginia for two more seasons with Hampton Roads, ascending to the top of the Admirals’ record books in the ECHL era. Maltais was third on the team in goals (22) and second in assists (37) and points (59) in his fourth season. His final year saw him tie for the team lead in goals (36) and score a point per-game in 10 playoff contests.
At the conclusion of Maltais’s tenure with the Admirals, he finished second all-time in games played wearing the blue and gold (282), fourth in franchise history in goals scored (142) and points (303), tied for fifth in assists (161), and second in ECHL Admirals’ history in penalty minutes (848). Maltais also averaged more than a point a game in five seasons with Hampton Roads (1.07).
Maltais moved on to notch a career-high 101 points for the UHL’s Asheville smoke in 2000-01 and actually opposed Hampton Roads in his lone contest in the American Hockey League with Hershey. His professional career extended nine more seasons at home in Quebec before he retired in 2009.
Class of 2013
No player who appeared in 10 or more games in Admirals history averaged more points than Brian Martin. From the 1989-90 to 1993-94 seasons, Martin averaged 1.89 points per game, netting 171 goals and 347 points in 184 games with the Blue and Gold. He was part of two ECHL Admirals championship teams.
Martin came to Hampton Roads in a trade from the Greensboro Monarchs during the Admirals’ inaugural season in 1989-90. That season, Martin ranked second on the team in goals (36), assists (39) and points (75). The following season, Martin netted 55 goals and 116 points in only 54 games with Hampton Roads as the Admirals captured their first Riley Cup Championship in 1991. His 55 goals in 1990-91 are the most in a single season in Admirals history. Despite appearing in only 28 games with Hampton Roads in 1991-92, Martin still averaged better than one goal and two points per game as the Admirals earned their second straight Riley Cup. The 1992-93 season would be Martin’s last full season with the Admirals. In 49 games with Hampton Roads, Martin scored 50 goals and 102 points.
As of the 2011-12 season, there have only been three 50+ goal seasons in Admirals history and only four 100+ point seasons in Admirals history. The 1990-91 and 1992-93 seasons saw Martin eclipse both the 50-goal and 100-point plateau. Martin’s 16 career hat tricks are the most in Admirals history and are double the total of the next-closest player on the list. Martin’s 35-game point scoring streak in 1990-91 stands as the second-longest point streak in ECHL history. In his ECHL career between Hampton Roads and Greensboro, Martin averaged 1.85 points per game – the highest such average in ECHL history among players with 350 or more points. His 0.91 goals-per-game average is the second-best average in ECHL history.
In ECHL Admirals history, Martin ranks second all time in goals (171), third in assists (176) and third in points (347). The St. Catharines, Ontario native also played 46 career AHL games in five seasons with New Haven, Halifax, Utica, Moncton, Maine and Baltimore, where he scored 17 goals and 37 points. Martin was selected in the 12th round (232nd overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. He retired after playing three games with Hampton Roads in 1993-94.
No player has recorded more assists and no defenseman has recorded more points in AHL Admirals history than Marty Wilford. The offensive blueliner led all team defenseman in scoring in each of the four seasons he played with Norfolk from 2000-01 to 2004-05. In 318 games played, Wilford recorded 32 goals, 141 assists and 173 points with Norfolk.
Selected in the sixth round (149th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1995 NHL Entry Draft, Wilford first joined the Norfolk Admirals for their inaugural AHL season in 2000-01 after splitting his first three professional seasons between the IHL and ECHL. He posted seven goals and 48 points in 80 games in his first season with the Admirals. After being traded prior to the 2001-02 season, Wilford returned to Norfolk in 2002-03 as an alternate captain (a distinction he would retain for the remainder of his Admirals playing career) and equaled his 48-point output with 13 goals and 35 assists in 80 games. Wilford’s 48-point seasons in 2000-01 and 2002-03 stood as single-season records for AHL Admirals defensemen until 2011-12.
Wilford is also one of the most durable players in Admirals history. He played 168 consecutive regular season games from Oct. 11, 2002 – Oct. 31, 2004 – the longest consecutive games played streak in AHL Admirals history. His 318 total games played ranks third in AHL Admirals history. Wilford is the AHL Admirals all-time assists leader (141) and leads all Admiral defensemen in goals (32), points (173) and games played (318).
The Admirals made the playoffs in each of Wilford’s four seasons with the team. In 32 career Calder Cup Playoff games with the Admirals, Wilford ranks second all-time in games played (32), tied for second in points (16) and leads all Admirals in assists (15).
Wilford appeared in 539 combined AHL games with Norfolk, St. John’s, Milwaukee, Hartford, Manchester, and Iowa from 2000-01 – 2006-07, tallying 47 goals and 275 points. He then spent four seasons playing in Europe and retired following the 2010-11 season. After that time, Wilford joined the Anaheim Ducks organization as an assistant coach for the club’s AHL affiliate. When the Ducks moved their affiliation to Norfolk this season, the Cobourg, Ontario native returned to the Admirals as an assistant coach.
Class of 2012
No Admiral has recorded more penalty minutes in a single season than Aaron Downey.
Downey was born in Shelburne, Ontario, Canada, in 1974. The right wing is one of only five players to skate for both the ECHL and AHL Admirals. Downey skated for the ECHL’s Hampton Roads Admirals in the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons, then appeared for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals in 2000-01 and 2001-02.
Downey broke into the professional ranks when he joined the ECHL Admirals in 1995. In 65 games during his rookie season, Downey recorded 365 penalty minutes – a penalty minute total that has not been surpassed in Admirals history. He also notched a pro career-high 12 goals, ranking fourth among Admirals rookies.
Downey followed that up in 1996-97 by recording 338 penalty minutes in 64 games. He is one of just three Admirals all-time to record over 300 penalty minutes in a single season. In two seasons with the ECHL Admirals, Downey appeared in 126 games, recording 20 goals and 39 points while amassing 692 penalty minutes.
Downey spent the next three seasons in the Boston Bruins organization, winning the 1999 Calder Cup and making his NHL debut in 1999-2000. He then returned to Norfolk in 2000-01 and was named the first captain in AHL Admirals history. In 2000-01, Downey appeared in 67 games with Norfolk, posting six goals, 21 points and 234 penalty minutes. He followed that up in 2001-02 by posting two assists and 21 penalty minutes in 12 games as he spent the majority of the season in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks.
In his final two seasons with the Admirals, Downey appeared in 79 games, scoring six goals and 23 points and 255 penalty minutes. When you combine Downey’s ECHL and AHL Admirals statistics, he has appeared in 205 games as an Admiral, scoring 26 goals and 62 points with 947 penalty minutes.
When his time in Norfolk was up, Downey began an extended stay in the NHL with Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis, Montreal and Detroit. He became the sixth former Admiral to win the Stanley Cup, as Detroit defeated Pittsburgh in six games to win the 2008 Stanley Cup. In his NHL career, Downey racked up 494 penalty minutes to go along with eight goals and 18 points. He finished his AHL career with 29 goals and 50 assists totaling 79 points and 1440 penalty minutes in 359 games between Norfolk, Providence, Portland, Manitoba and Grand Rapids.
No Admiral has appeared in more all-star games and no defenseman has scored more points as an Admiral than Chris Phelps. Phelps totaled 191 points in 281 games with the Blue and Gold from 1994-95 to 1998-99. Phelps led the team in scoring by a defenseman twice, was a three-time ECHL All-Star and helped the team win the 1998 Kelly Cup Championship.
Born in Lapeer, Michigan in 1973, Phelps signed as a free agent with the Hampton Roads Admirals before the 1994-95 season. Phelps’ rookie season turned out to be one of his best years as a professional. In 67 games, he notched a career high in goals (13), points (52) and penalty minutes (161) while tying a career high with 39 assists. He also earned his first trip to the ECHL All-Star Game and made his AHL debut, appearing in three games for the Cornwall Aces.
Over the next two seasons, Phelps skated in 98 games, recording 10 goals and 69 points with 214 penalty minutes. He led the Admirals in scoring by a defenseman in 1996-97 with eight goals and 45 points in 58 games and also earned his second ECHL All-Star Game selection.
The 1997-98 season was a memorable one for Phelps and his Admirals teammates as they eyed the team’s third championship. Phelps appeared in 66 regular season games, recording four goals and 39 assists as the Admirals were the last team to qualify for the 1998 Kelly Cup Playoffs. He also skated in his third and final ECHL All-Star Game.
After defeating three of the top four teams in the Northern Conference, Phelps capped off a memorable playoff run for Hampton Roads on Wednesday, May 20. He notched a game-high three assists in the decisive Game Six of the Kelly Cup Finals. The Admirals defeated the Pensacola Ice Pilots in that game, 4-1, and brought the Kelly Cup to Hampton Roads.
The following season would be Phelps’ last as a professional. He appeared in 50 games in 1998-99, recording three goals and 27 points for the Blue and Gold.
In 281 games in Hampton Roads, Phelps compiled 30 goals and 161 assists totaling 191 points. He also recorded four assists and 14 penalty minutes in 22 career AHL games between Cornwall, Portland and Baltimore.
Class of 2011
Joining the Admirals as an undrafted free agent, Ajay Baines became an integral part of the team’s inaugural AHL season in 2000-01. He spent the better part of six seasons with the Admirals.
Best known as the longest serving captain in AHL Admirals history, Baines wore the “C” from October 18, 2002 until February 15, 2006. Baines holds the record for most games played in AHL Admirals history with 409 and most points with 175. He ranks third in both goals (68) and assists (107). As a formidable two-way forward, he led the AHL Admirals to two division titles, led the team in scoring during the 2003-04 season and was integral on a penalty kill that ranked among the AHL’s top ten for four of the six seasons that he played.
There are three words to describe Ajay Baines: Sportsmanship, Determination and Dedication. These characteristics were awarded after the 2008-09 season when he was selected to receive the AHL’s Fred Hunt Memorial Trophy. Baines was deeply and passionately involved in promoting literacy and working with diabetics in the Hampton Roads area. He was a two-time recipient of the Admirals American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year Award (2000-01, 2004-05) for his work in the Hampton Roads community.
Baines retired following the 2008-09 season after playing 647 career AHL games between Norfolk, the Hamilton Bulldogs, Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights and Iowa Stars. He won the 2007 Calder Cup with the Bulldogs and scored the Calder Cup-clinching goal in Game 5 against the Hershey Bears on June 7, 2007.
A veteran of 14 professional seasons, Steve Poapst was signed as a free agent and made his first appearance as a professional with the Hampton Roads Admirals during the 1991-92 season. He spent two seasons with the Admirals where he was an active participant in earning the 1992 Riley Cup Championship. In 1992-93, he earned the ECHL First Team All-Star honors. In 118 ECHL games with Hampton Roads, Poapst scored 18 goals and 73 points.
Following his time with the Admirals, Poapst played 498 AHL games, a majority of which were with the Portland Pirates, registering 45 goals and 205 total points with an impressive +127 plus/minus rating. He won the 1994 Calder Cup with the Pirates and led Portland to the Calder Cup Final in 1996. Poapst signed his first career NHL contract with the Washington Capitals in February of 1995. Although he spent the majority of the 1995-96 season with Portland, Poapst made his NHL debut playing in three games with Washington and scoring his first NHL goal.
Poapst would return to Norfolk during the 2000-01 season after signing as a free agent with the Chicago Blackhawks, making him one of only five players to play for both the ECHL and AHL Admirals. He played in 37 games with Norfolk in 2000-01 and scored a goal and nine points. After a strong NHL season in 2001-02, Poapst enjoyed his most productive season offensively in 2002-03 when he tallied 13 points and was +14 for the Blackhawks. In 307 career NHL games between Washington, Chicago, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, Poapst registered eight goals and 28 assists.
Poapst played in 93 playoff games between the ECHL, AHL, and NHL, registering 28 post-season points and winning both the Riley Cup and Calder Cup. Poapst retired after the 2005-06 season and joined the coaching staff for the Rockford IceHogs, AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, before the start of the 2010-11 season. In 155 career games between the ECHL and AHL Admirals, Poapst scored 19 goals and 82 points.
Class of 2010
If you look at the top ten lists for Hampton Roads Admirals games played, goals, assists, points and penalty minutes, the name Rick Kowalsky will appear on each list.
A high-scoring forward and a team leader, Kowalsky appeared in 244 games with the Hampton Roads Admirals from 1994 to 2000, registering 98 goals, 142 assists, 240 points and 510 penalty minutes. He recorded better than 20 goals, 50 points and 100 penalty minutes in a season three times for the Admirals and is one of just four players to have accomplished that feat more than once in an Admirals career.
Kowalsky added 12 goals and nine assists in 23 Admirals playoff games. He ranks sixth in games played, fifth in goals, seventh in assists, fifth in points and ninth in penalty minutes in Hampton Roads Admirals history.
A veteran of 12 professional seasons, Kowalsky appeared in 516 ECHL games with the Admirals, Trenton and Roanoke, netting 221 goals and 329 assists for 550 points. Following the 2008-09 season, he ranked in the ECHL’s top 20 of all-time games played, goals, assists and points. Kowalsky played in 182 career AHL contests with Cornwall and Portland between 1993 and 1999. He also appeared in one game with the Norfolk Admirals in the 2001-02 season, making him one of just five players as of the 2008-09 season to have appeared in games for both the ECHL and AHL Admirals. Kowalsky returned to Norfolk for one season as the Admirals’ assistant coach in 2005-06.
Known as “The Original Admiral,” Dennis McEwen was one of the first players to skate on the ice at Norfolk Scope Arena in October 1989 during the team’s inaugural season. McEwen spent the better part of the next ten years with the Admirals and was a member of all three championship teams.
A solid two-way forward and a team leader, McEwen was a fan favorite in Hampton Roads for parts of seven seasons. He appeared in 262 regular season games with the Admirals, scoring 76 goals and 126 assists. He is one of just seven players to have recorded more than 200 points in an Admirals career.
Some of McEwen’s greatest Admirals contributions came in his 40 playoff games. On March 17, 1990, McEwen became the first ECHL player to record a playoff hat trick as he netted four goals – including the overtime game-winner – in a 5-4 win over the Erie Panthers. As of 2009, no player in ECHL playoff history has ever topped four goals in a game. In each of the next two seasons, McEwen ranked in the top five of team scoring as the Admirals captured the 1991 and 1992 Riley Cup Championships.
After briefly retiring following the 1991-92 season, McEwen returned for parts of four more seasons with the Admirals from 1993-99 and was briefly a member of the 1997-98 Admirals Kelly Cup Championship squad. McEwen ranks fourth in games played, sixth in goals, eighth in assists and seventh in points in Hampton Roads Admirals history.
Class of 2009
No goaltender won more games as a Hampton Roads Admiral than Mark Bernard.
Bernard joined the Admirals for the 1990-91 season and played 23 games as the Blue and Gold won their first Riley Cup Championship. The next season, the Hamilton, Ontario native led Hampton Roads with 25 wins. But he saved his best work for the playoffs, starting all 14 playoff games in Hampton Road’s run to back-to-back ECHL Championships. Bernard, who was tops in the Riley Cup Playoffs with 12 wins and a 2.62 goals-against average, was named the 1992 ECHL Playoffs Most Valuable Player.
“Bernie” appeared in four seasons with Hampton Roads (1990-91 – 1992-93, 1995-96). He accumulated a 62-38-12 record with a 3.69 goals against average and a .882 save percentage with Hampton Roads. His 62 all-time wins are the most in ECHL Admirals history and are second only to Michael Leighton all-time in Admirals history.
Bernard also served in the Admirals front office during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons as Vice President and Assistant General Manager. During his tenure, the Admirals saw more than a six percent rise in attendance over the previous two seasons – the fifth highest such increase in the AHL. Six of the top ten highest single game crowds in AHL Admirals’ history to that point came under Bernard’s watch – including the team’s first AHL sellout on January 26, 2007. He was the 2007-08 winner of the James C. Hendy Memorial Award as the outstanding executive in the American Hockey League (AHL).
If you look at any of the Admirals all-time top ten lists, there’s a good chance you’ll notice a pattern – the name Victor Gervais appears on almost all of them.
Gervais spent parts of seven seasons with the Hampton Roads Admirals from 1990-91 to 1997-98. In 239 career games with the Blue and Gold, the Prince George, British Columbia native scored 151 goals and 282 assists for 433 points. He ranks second all-time in points, third all-time in goals and first all-time in assists in Admirals history. His 1.81 points-per-game in an Admirals jersey rank second all-time among players who have appeared in more than five games.
Gervais helped the Admirals to the 1992 Riley Cup Championship in his second campaign with the club, scoring six goals and 14 points on the run to the title. His 118 points during the 1992-93 season remain the most ever in a single season in an Admirals jersey and also remains among the top 15 best offensive seasons in ECHL history. In 1998, Gervais led Hampton Roads in playoff scoring on their improbable run to the Kelly Cup, netting seven goals and 11 assists in 19 games.
Gervais tallied eight career hat tricks as an Admiral – the second-most ever in team history. He also ranks seventh in games played in ECHL Admirals history and trails only Rod Taylor with his seven seasons in an Admirals jersey. Gervais also scored the first goal in ECHL All-Star Game history in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1993.
Class of 2008
There would not be Admirals hockey today without the vision of one man: Blake Cullen, the founder and president of the Hampton Roads Admirals from 1989 to 1996.
After a successful 25-year career in Major League Baseball with the Chicago Cubs and National League, Cullen began Blake Cullen, Inc. (now Admiral Management Company) in 1986 to acquire and operate sports franchises. In January 1989, Cullen saw a game in the newly formed East Coast Hockey League. ECHL officials told Cullen that they were looking to expand the league. As he had recently seen an article about boxer and Norfolk native Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, Cullen suggested the Hampton Roads area as a possibility. He visited the area and put on an ECHL exhibition game three weeks later that drew 6,200 fans on a Wednesday night. The next fall, the Admirals were born.
Cullen’s Admirals were an immediate success on and off the ice – routinely ranking among the top teams in ECHL attendance and winning championships in 1991 and 1992. During the six seasons that Cullen presided over the Admirals, the team averaged over 7,200 fans per game and recorded 51 sellouts.
Cullen’s first-class treatment of others endeared him to players, fans, media and staff. His business sense, extensive sports background and hiring of former Hampton Gulls and Toronto Maple Leafs coach John Brophy brought immediate credibility to not only the Admirals, but also the ECHL and minor league sports everywhere, and the success of the Admirals sparked a revitalization of Downtown Norfolk.
From the team’s founding in 1989 through the move to the American Hockey League in 2000, there was only one Admirals head coach: John Brophy.
During an 18-season playing career, Brophy skated in over 1,200 games and accumulated more than 4,000 penalty minutes. After retiring as a player, Brophy coached for 20 seasons with jobs in the SHL, WHA, CHL, AHL and with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. One of Brophy’s first head coaching jobs was with the SHL’s Hampton Gulls, who played at the Hampton Coliseum from 1975-77.
Brophy joined the Admirals for their first season in 1989-90. In 11 seasons, he led Hampton Roads to a regular season record of 416-250-72. However, he is best known for leading the Admirals to three ECHL championships. In the team’s second season, the Brophy-led Admirals won the 1991 Riley Cup in front of the Scope crowd. The Admirals repeated as Riley Cup champions in 1992. The 1998 Kelly Cup Championship holds special significance, as Brophy’s Admirals were the last team to qualify for the playoffs but went 14-4 in the postseason to capture their third ECHL title.
Brophy remains the ECHL’s all-time leader in regular season (480) and postseason (55) coaching wins. His 1,027 coaching wins are the second most in professional hockey history, trailing only Scotty Bowman. While these numbers speak for themselves in making Brophy a legend, it was his never-ending drive to win and fiery personality that make him one of the most recognizable sports personalities in Hampton Roads history.
From 1991 to 2007, few faces were as familiar at Norfolk Scope than that of Al MacIsaac.
MacIsaac, a defenseman, had great success in junior and collegiate hockey, winning the 1986 Memorial Cup with the Guelph Platers (OHL) and being named 1991 Male Athlete of the Year at St. Francis Xavier University. MacIsaac joined Hampton Roads for his first professional season in 1991-92. That year, the Admirals won their second consecutive Riley Cup Championship with MacIsaac leading all defensemen in scoring. The following season, he played in the ECHL All-Star Game and won the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Championship with the Cape Breton Oilers.
In 1994, MacIsaac retired from playing after only 113 games with the Admirals, scoring 24 goals and 63 assists. He became the Admirals’ assistant coach and assistant general manager in 1994 and was promoted to general manager in 1996. In 1998, MacIsaac won his fourth championship when the Admirals won the Kelly Cup.
MacIsaac remained in Norfolk as general manager when the Admirals moved to the AHL in 2000. For the next seven seasons, MacIsaac oversaw the day-to-day hockey operations of the Admirals’ players and staff while also serving as a scout for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
MacIsaac helped to establish the Admirals tradition of excellence during the team’s infancy and carried it with him to the AHL. During his tenure with the Admirals, MacIsaac was involved in 1,262 combined regular season and playoff games as a player, assistant coach, assistant general manager and general manager.
No player has scored more goals as an Admiral than Rod Taylor. Taylor, a left wing, scored 77 goals in 129 games at Ferris State University from 1987-91 – including a school-record 41 goals during his senior season. He broke into the professional ranks with the Admirals in 1991-92, scoring 26 goals and 50 points in just 40 regular season games that year. However, his biggest impact as a rookie came during the run to the Riley Cup Championship when he led the Admirals with 16 goals and 26 points in 14 postseason games.
Taylor’s best season with the Admirals came two years later, as he led the 1993-94 Admirals with 54 goals and 88 points. He won a second championship with Hampton Roads in 1998 when he led the team in goals during the regular season and then notched nine goals and 13 points as Hampton Roads captured the 1998 Kelly Cup.
After the Admirals’ move to the American Hockey League in 2000, Taylor played three more seasons in the ECHL before retiring in 2002-03. At the time of his retirement, he was the ECHL’s all-time leader in games played (678), goals (368) and points (689). Taylor is Hampton Roads’ all-time leader in games played (528), seasons played (9), goals (312), points (565) and penalty minutes (856). He led the Admirals in goal scoring five times. Taylor’s powerful and accurate slap shots earned him the nickname “The Rocket,” and the Elton John hit song “Rocketman” was played when he scored at Scope.