Check out this article from Jim Hodges that appears on HamptonRoads.com .
Admirals fever: It’s spreading fast in Norfolk
By Jim Hodges
The last time Albany visited Scope, the Admirals blew a four-goal, third-period lead and lost 5-4 in overtime. They skated off to a chorus of boos from 4,000 disappointed fans.
A 3-1 loss to the Devils the next night made things worse.
Since those January nights, Carter Ashton, who scored for the Admirals, was traded to Toronto. Trevor Smith, who also scored, is in the NHL with Tampa Bay.
Goalie Dustin Tokarski has been to the NHL and is back.
Alex Killorn, then playing hockey between classes at Harvard, practiced Thursday as an Admiral.
Faces change almost as fast as a slapshot in the American Hockey League. So, too, do fortunes. When the Admirals play Albany tonight and Saturday at Scope, they’ll take an AHL record 18-game winning streak to the ice.
Derision hasn’t been heard much lately.
“You go on Granby Street and people talk to you, and they recognize you,” said winger Alexandre Picard, who played for Syracuse during its 15-game run in 2008. The Crunch won its first three games the next season – with what was essentially a different team – and claims a somewhat contrived 18-game winning streak, recognized by few outside of upstate New York.
Minor league hockey celebrities – “minus the paparazzi,” Picard said, laughing – are hard to come by, but everybody loves a winner. Testimony to that comes from signs in windows and marquees along Granby and 21st streets that have proliferated since the Admirals beat Charlotte 5-0 on Sunday to claim the record.
“We go in the restaurants now, whatever, and they give us discounts,” Picard said. “It’s great to see. It’s fun to be part of it.”
And good to be back home, where the Admirals will play the next seven games.
Ten of the 18 wins have come in road games, “and we wanted to bring this to the home fans,” Admirals coach Jon Cooper said. “I think the guys are looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd.”
Like any coach, Cooper looks for motivational tools. He often speaks of excited Scope crowds helping his club. The Admirals are playing for the home-ice playoff advantage, and no team is higher than Norfolk as the season moves into its final four weeks. The Admirals lead the AHL East by 10 points over second-place St. John’s and the entire league by six points.
Also, there is an understanding that Albany “is a desperate team,” Cooper said. “Right now, they’re on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.”
The Devils, losers of their past eight games, are one point from a playoff spot in the AHL East with 11 games to play. Sneak into the final playoff berth and their first-round playoff opponent could be the Admirals.
At 4-1, Albany is the only team with a winning record against Norfolk.
So there is playoff preparation. And, for Killorn, there is his first pro hockey game.
“It’s something you dream of as a child,” said Killorn, a Canadian who prepped in Massachusetts before attending Harvard.
“I know it sounds like a cliche, but it’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life.”
He spends his mornings practicing, his afternoons working on a paper for an independent study conducted by a law professor in Cambridge, Mass. Killorn is writing an analysis of Moore vs. Bertuzzi, in which former Colorado Avalanche player Steve Moore sued after his hockey career ended when he was sucker punched by Vancouver’s Todd Bertuzzi in a 2004 game.
The paper is a step toward a degree in government and a May 24 graduation.
As if there isn’t enough pressure in playing his first game as a professional, it’s being done amid the pressure of the 18-game winning streak.
“There’s definitely a buzz in the locker room,” Killorn said. “You don’t want to be the guy in a streak like that who comes in and changes things. I’m excited to be a part of it.”