06/09/2012 6:00 PM
Article By: Nate HaeniToronto, Ont.- With a 6-1 win on Saturday night against the Toronto Marlies, the Norfolk Admirals have claimed their first Calder Cup championship after sweeping the Marlies 4-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Behind solid goaltending, the Admirals seemed to have everything going for them dating back to the regular season when they rattled off 28 consecutive wins and finished with the best record in the AHL during the regular season (55-18-1-2, 113 points). Norfolk went 15-3 in the postseason to finish with 70 victories in 94 games overall, including 43 in their final 46 games of the year.
Former IceHogs forward Brandon Segal notched two goals in the finals for the Admirals, including the game-winning marker in the Admirals 4-2 victory in game two of the series.
The former IceHogs captain was traded to Tampa Bay on Feb. 21 and recorded five goals and four assists for Norfolk during their playoff run. Joining the Admirals squad late in the regular season, Segal racked up 11 points (5g-6a) in eight contests before the postseason began.
2012 AHL MVP and Rookie of the Year Cory Conacher recorded four assists in the Game 4 clincher, while fellow 2012 AHL All-Rookie forward Tyler Johnson notched two goals and two assists and defenseman Mike Kostka scored twice.
Norfolk never trailed over its final two playoff series and finished the postseason with 10 consecutive wins, outscoring their opponents 34-7 during the streak. Under second-year head coach Jon Cooper, the Admirals eliminated the Manchester Monarchs (3-1), Connecticut Whale (4-2) and St. John’s IceCaps (4-0) before defeating Toronto in the Finals. The Admirals’ 2012 playoff roster featured seven players who appeared in the NHL with the parent Lightning this season.
Norfolk forward Alexandre Picard won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs, leading the Admirals with nine goals and 16 points while registering a plus-11 rating as well as a team-high 48 penalty minutes in 18 playoff games.
Norfolk’s victory brings the curtain down on the AHL’s 76th season. In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and this season marked the 11th consecutive year in which more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America.
2012 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-seven)
E1-Norfolk Admirals vs. W2-Toronto Marlies
Game 1 – Fri., June 1 – NORFOLK 3, Toronto 1
Game 2 – Sat., June 2 – NORFOLK 4, Toronto 2
Game 3 – Thurs., June 7 – Norfolk 1, TORONTO 0 (OT)
Game 4 – Sat., June 9 – Norfolk 6, TORONTO 1