Pete's View - April 2011 - Calder Cup Playoffs 2011
Pete Michaud is The Voice of the Admirals. He bring 19 seasons of experience with the team to the airwaves in 2010-11. He has been the team's play-by-play broadcaster for each of the past 12 seasons. In addition to his work with the Admirals, Michaud also calls Norfolk Tides AAA baseball games.
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‘It’s Time’ has been the Admirals’ promotional slogan all year, and the team certainly seems to have taken it to heart in its opening round playoff series with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Admirals are trying to pull off a stunning upset of the AHL’s best club, currently enjoying a two-games-to-none lead. It’s been a very even series so far, though, with just a bounce or two and a key save or two being the difference. It’s a long way from over. The team has met the challenge so far, playing smart, disciplined hockey. Dustin Tokarski has been impressive in net. Now, we look to see if they can keep up their strong play.
The Penguins drew very solid crowds for the first two games of the series over the weekend. While I am not expecting to match their numbers for a Tuesday and Wednesday game, we really need to get the word out about this team and give them a real ‘home ice advantage’ over the next couple of games. Tell your friends, family, co-workers and anyone you know who likes hockey about the upcoming games. Also, take advantage of the midweek promotions we have with Student Rush discounted tickets and the ‘Family Fun Packs, Presented by SunTrust.’ We had these deals in the regular year and they proved to be very popular. The student deal is for a $9 ticket at the Scope box office after 2pm on game day. The Fun Pack offer gets you 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 popcorns and 4 sodas for just $52 at the Scope Box Office. It’s a great offer. The Student Rush and Family Fun Pack offers are for all Mondaym, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday home playoff games.
This opening round series is a ‘Best of Seven.’ The Admirals haven NEVER won a best-of-seven series in their AHL history, and they haven’t won a playoff series of any kind since a best-of-three, qualifying round series against Binghamton seven years ago. Thankfully, while I may know this information, it means nothing to the players, most of whom haven’t been in Norfolk for more than a year or two. It’s just past history, and I hope ‘It’s Time’ (there’s that slogan again) to change all that!
This season will be the last in which the first round of the playoffs will be a best-of-seven series. The playoff schedule will change next year, with the opening round sets becoming best-of-five series. This change goes along with a reduction in the league’s regular season schedule and a lengthening of the season on the calendar. In 2011-12, the AHL will reduce its schedule by four games, from 80 to 76. It will also extend the regular season on the calendar by a week. This will help reduce the difficult travel, curtail sets of three-games-in-three days and eliminate playing four-games-in-five-days. It will also help cut out some of those mid-week games on a Monday or Tuesday that many teams have trouble getting good crowds on. Many teams, including the Admirals, were very much in favor of the changes. A few clubs, most notably those that sell lots of tickets regardless of when they play, did not want to make a change.
On a final note, I wanted to remind everyone to tune in and call in ((757) 490-2750) during ‘The Admirals Hour’ from 4-5pm every Tuesday on 102.1-FM and 1490-AM ‘The Game’ and on 1021TheGame.com. In years gone by, we always ended the show at the end of the regular season due to conflicts with other broadcast events. We have no such issues this year, so our weekly talk show will stay on the air every Tuesday as long as the team is alive in the playoffs.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope to see you at Scope Tuesday and Wednesday for playoff hockey (and Friday, as well, if Game Five is needed). Until next time …
April 4, 2011 - Hello from the road, as the Admirals kick off a five-game, regular season-ending road trip tonight here in Charlotte with a key game against the Checkers. If the Admirals hope to catch Charlotte for third in the division, this is a game they’ll need.
While the boys have had a tough go of it lately, the team is still in a great position to claim a playoff spot for the first time in four years. The ‘magic number’ in relation to Worcester, which is fourth in the Atlantic Division, is just three points. So, any combination of points won by the Admirals and potential points lost by Worcester totaling three or more puts Norfolk in the playoffs.
The Admirals left Scope yesterday at 11:00 a.m. for the ride down to Charlotte in what had to be the most crowded bus I have ever been on. We had 33 people on the bus! We normally have about 27 or 28, which is cramped enough. The boys brought folding chairs on the bus so the rookies could use them to sit in the aisle. We’re bringing an extra coach (Steve Thomas) and an extra goalie (Pat Nagle) on this trip. Mitch Fritz, who has been out most of the season with injuries, is on the trip, as well, in the hope that he might be able to play.
Dustin Tokarski is on the trip, as well, although his status for tonight’s game is uncertain after Dustin suffered a nasty cut from a skate blade Saturday. We’ve seen a few near tragic injuries from skate blade cuts over the years, so we’re thankful Tic’s injury wasn’t like that, although the cut still looks pretty nasty. I recall when Bobby Russell had his face severely cut by a skate in our final ECHL year in 1999. Our defenseman, Jeff Paul, had his throat cut by the skate of our own goalie, Jeff Maund, in a game in Albany in our first AHL season about 11 years ago. And many of us remember the night just a few years back when an official was seriously hurt when his neck was cut in a game at Scope.
Speaking of injuries, Cedrick Desjardins is still fighting a recent injury that has him out of the lineup. Head Coach Jon Cooper told me that Ceddy has had a minor setback in his rehab and may not play again in the regular season. He’s continuing his work, though, and will hopefully be ready to go in the playoffs.
That’s it for now. I’ll check later on the road trip. Until then …
View February and March 2011 editions of Pete's View
View December 2010 and January 2011's editions of Pete's View
View October and November 2010's editions of Pete's View