By Ken Peacock
The Calder Cup Finals finally kicked off in Norfolk this past Friday night. The night started off with the raising of 4 new banners to the Norfolk Scope rafters. There was one banner each for the winning the East Division title, the AHL regular season points title, the Eastern Conference title. The fourth banner recognized the Admirals for their history making 28-game winning streak. There was also a trophy presentation that was rudely interrupted by the Toronto players pre-maturely skating onto the ice.
The game itself was fun to watch from the fans perspective. This was the first time that the Marlies and the Admirals have ever met in regular or post-season action. This was the game that would be used to feel each other out and see what could or could not be done. It was a penalty filled affair that saw the Admirals taking more penalties than we would normally like them to take. The upside to the penalties was that the Admiral offense managed to put the puck on net with over 40 shots. The Toronto media had stated that “Toronto has had the benefit of going into sparsely filled rinks and quickly taking out what little crowd atmosphere there has been. The Scope in Norfolk won’t likely sell out either.” Well I can understand why they may have said that as Toronto has never been down here before. The end result was Norfolk packing the house with a loud crowd and taking a 3-1 victory over the Marlies.
Saturday night the Admirals played before a sellout crowd. It was noticeably colder in the arena than it was the previous night. The honeymoon was over and both teams got down to business. It was a tighter and faster game. The Admirals cut back on the penalties that they took and skated away from any retaliation penalties. Norfolk scored the first goal again and never looked back. The Admirals shut down the Marlies and won the match 4-2. The series now moves to Toronto for games 3,4, and 5 (if needed). Let’s hope they do not have to share this flight up north with the Marlies.
I was not too impressed with the Marlies. Yes they played well and made the finals. If they are as good as what I have read it did not show this weekend. I understand that they have some injuries to some key players, but then what team has not had that happen. The Admirals have had to pull thru some tough times. Cooper has had to Band-Aid the team up and they have answered the call. Ben Scrivens is a great goaltender and was responsible for keeping the Marlies within range of coming back. He was also a pest that should have been penalized a few times for his actions against Admiral players. Just ask Alex Picard what he thought about the goal stick across the eye in game 1 or the goalie interference call in game 2. Jay Rosehill did his best Louis Robitaille impersonation, but the Admirals did not fall for it. I have never truly appreciated Carter Ashton. Yes he can play, but it’s the tough guy image that he tries to put on that makes me laugh. He did it here and still does it in Toronto. Ashton needs to stick to scoring and leave the tough guy thing to thugs like Rosehill. The Marlies as a whole were not able to adapt to the Admirals. Norfolk just outplayed them this weekend.
AHL officials……Hmm….. I don’t know if it is AHL policy or not, but was it intentional to send the worst officials to the Calder Cup Finals? Embarrassing is one word to describe the officiating performance this weekend. Dave Andrew should be ashamed of what he saw. I understand that there is a tendency to let the boys “play”, but there were some really blatant blown calls. I really feel bad for Alex Picard. He found himself on the bottom of a pile and the Marlie goalie nailed him in the head with the stick and dragged the blade across his eye. In game 2 the goalie came out of the crease and blocked Picard and Alex got called for interference. Yes I am bitching about non-calls that would have benefited Norfolk. I am also bitching about calls made against the Admirals. Some may ask “Why are you bitching when your team won?” Well……The officiating blatantly sucked! There was no hiding that from the sellout crowd. I am just a passionate hockey fan.
Now let’s concentrate on the games ahead. The Admirals need 2 more to win the Calder Cup. The quest resumes this Thursday in Toronto. There are plenty of options to enjoy this game. We have the radio, internet, and on WGNT TV in the Hampton Roads area.. Big Woody’s will be showing the game