NORFOLK, Va. – After winning two of three games last week, the Norfolk Admirals look to close their four-point gap to a playoff berth with three games this week – including Friday and Saturday contests against the Syracuse Crunch at Norfolk Scope Arena.
Tonight, the road trip ends in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Admirals and Checkers decide who wins the GEICO Challenge Cup. The Admirals then return to Scope for their longest – and final homestand – of the season. Norfolk takes on the Syracuse Crunch on Friday and Saturday nights at Scope. Friday's game is Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Night and Saturday's game is MDA Jersey Auction and Ticket Fundraiser Night, presented by PAPCO. Please see below for complete details.
STANDINGS UPDATE At 31-28-4-1 (67 points), the Admirals are in 5th place in the East Division and tied for 9th place in the Eastern Conference. The Admirals are four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the AHL's Eastern Conference with 12 games remaining in the final four weeks of the AHL regular season. There are eight teams within seven points of each other from 6th to 13th in the Eastern Conference. Only three of those teams will make the playoffs. Below are the current AHL Eastern Conference standings:
Can't see the above standings? Visit theahl.com.
Eight teams in each conference shall qualify for the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs. Following the conclusion of each team's 76-game regular season, the three division winners in each conference will be seeded first through third (in order of regular-season points) and the next five best teams (in order of regular-season points) will be seeded fourth through eighth.
ADMIRALS AMONG AHL'S HOTTEST TEAMS SINCE FEBRUARY 8TH As mentioned above, the Admirals are in a very tight race for a playoff berth in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs. While they remain in tight competition for this spot, they are the hottest of the eight teams fighting for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference since Feb. 8th.
On Feb. 8th, the Admirals were tied with Adirondack for the Eastern Conference's worst record. At 18-23-2-1 with 39 points, Norfolk sat 10 points out of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. In 20 games since that time, Norfolk has earned 28 of a possible 40 points (13-5-2-0, .700 points percentage). Norfolk trails only the Providence Bruins (.750) for the best record in the Eastern Conference since Feb. 8th. More importantly, Norfolk has closed to within four points of the final playoff berth with 12 games remaining in the season.
The Admirals have accomplished this with stellar defense, allowing an average of only 2.15 goals per game – best in the Eastern Conference and second overall in the AHL in that time. Norfolk has allowed two or fewer goals in 11 of their last 20 games after doing so in only 17 of their first 44 games of the season. Goaltenders Frederik Andersen, Igor Bobkov and Jeff Deslauriers have combined for a 2.20 goals-against average and .931 save percentage during Norfolk's last 20 games.
Sami Vatanen has points in 15 of the 19 games he has played in that stretch, leading Norfolk with 14 assists and 17 points since Feb. 8th. Patrick Maroon has points in eight of 10 games played during the stretch and tops the Admirals with six goals since Feb. 8th despite appearing in 11 games with the NHL's Anaheim Ducks in the same time frame.
Kyle Wilson posted two goals and five points in three games last week. He now has seven points (3g, 4a) in six games since joining the Admirals on Mar. 11th – exceeding the point total he had with Syracuse in 22 games to begin the season (5g, 0a).
With 40 points each, Patrick Maroon (18g, 22a) and Sami Vatanen (7g, 33a) passed Peter Holland (19g, 19a, 38pts) for the team lead in scoring last week. Holland remains on NHL recall with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Admirals are 25-1-2-0 when scoring three or more goals this season. They are 6-27-2-1 when scoring two or fewer goals.
Friday's game against Syracuse drops the puck on the longest homestand of the season for Norfolk. They follow that up with a regular season-ending six-game road trip – the longest road trip of the season.
Last night, the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning named former Admirals head coach Jon Cooper as their head coach. Cooper led Norfolk to a 94-44-10-8 record between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons and guided the Admirals to the 2012 Calder Cup championship.
Cooper becomes the second Admirals bench boss to become an NHL head coach after coaching the Admirals. Current Admirals head coach Trent Yawney coached Norfolk from 2000-01 – 2004-05 before becoming the head coach of the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks in 2005-06.
GEICO CHALLENGE CUP TO BE DECIDED TONIGHT The tightly-contested eight-game season series between the Admirals and Charlotte Checkers comes to a conclusion tonight. Charlotte (4-3-0-0, 8 points) holds a one-point edge over Norfolk (3-3-1-0, 7 points). A Norfolk win will allow the Admirals to defend the GEICO Challenge Cup, awarded to the victor of the season series between the clubs. After the Checkers won the first three games of the 2012-13 season series, Norfolk has come back to win three of the next four games. Tune in to the game tonight on 102.1-FM, 1490-AM, 1021TheGame.com or AHLLive.com. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m.
FRIDAY IS NAVY-MARINE CORPS RELIEF SOCIETY NIGHT Join us on Friday night for Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Night. Through this exclusive online ticket offer, Red Level tickets for Friday's game are available for just $11. If you were to buy these tickets at the Scope Box Office on game night, they’d be $19 – you save 42%. Plus, a portion of ticket sales goes back to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a private non-profit charitable organization. It is sponsored by the Department of the Navy and operates nearly 250 offices ashore and afloat at Navy and Marine Corps bases throughout the world. The mission of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need; and to receive and manage funds to administer these programs.
SATURDAY IS MDA JERSEY AUCTION AND TICKET FUNDRAISER NIGHT, PRESENTED BY PAPCO The Admirals and PAPCO will present the 13th annual MDA Jersey Auction to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association this Saturday night after the Admirals' game against the Syracuse Crunch. The Admirals will don one-of-a-kind jerseys for that game. Immediately following the game, a live auction will take place on the ice with the jerseys sold right off the players' backs. You can get a preview of the jerseys at norfolkadmirals.com.
The Admirals are also offering discounted fundraising tickets for the game for a limited time only. Tickets are just $11 with $2 of each ticket going back to the local MDA. These special tickets are ONLY available online at norfolkadmirals.com/groups and ONLY through 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. Use the promo code MDA13.
Over the past 12 years, the Admirals have raised $357,551 for MDA through the annual jersey auction.
Our local MDA office helps children and adults who are affected by any of 43 neuromuscular diseases by providing services such as: clinic visits, Physical, Occupational, Respiratory & Speech therapy visits, wheelchair & equipment repair funding, flu shots (could be life threatening for a patient with MD), ongoing research and our annual MDA camp at the 4H campgrounds in Wakefield, VA for children ages 6-17. MDA receives no government funding and charges no fees to those served by the Association.
DUCKS FLYING HIGH The Anaheim Ducks (22-6-4, 48 points) remain the Pacific Division leaders and trail the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks by only three points. Members of the 2012-13 Admirals have combined to contribute 14 goals and 28 points for the Ducks this season. In addition, goaltender Viktor Fasth, who made his North American professional debut with the Admirals in January, has posted a 11-3-1 record with a 2.27 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 16 games with the Ducks.
TICKETS Individual tickets are on sale now at the Scope Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at ticketmaster.com. Don’t miss a minute of Admirals action by purchasing your season tickets today. Stop by the Admirals’ Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime.
ON THE RADIO/INTERNET All regular season games will air live on "The Game" 102.1-FM, 1490-AM and online at 1021TheGame.com. AHL Live will also carry online video of every Admirals game on a pay-per-view or season pass basis. Fans can log in to watch, listen or get more information about AHL Live’s online audio and video features at ahllive.com.