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September 29, 2011

Game Day: Admirals vs. IceCaps, Sept. 29

Preseason Game #1
Norfolk Admirals at St. John's IceCaps (AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets)
Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium, Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L.

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Last weekend, the Tampa Bay Lightning sent 26 players to Admirals training camp in St. John's, Newfoundland. After two days of practice, the Admirals take the ice in their first preseason game tonight. The game will be the first of three exhibition games pitting Norfolk against the AHL's newest team, the St. John's IceCaps (AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets). Tonight's game takes place at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Admirals Head Coach Jon Cooper has been working with this group for the last several weeks with Lightning rookie camp and training camp. Between the time in Tampa, practices in Newfoundland and the three pre-season games, becoming familiar with his team is the #1 priority.

"We have 15 guys that weren't on the team last year," said Cooper. "We need to get a feel for Jon Cooper/Photo by John Wrightthese guys so we can put them in the best position to succeed."

In addition, with 27 players on the training camp roster and only 20 spots available on any given night, many players are auditioning for jobs with the Admirals.

Cooper and his staff will use these three preseason games to help make those personnel decisions while also trying to build chemistry in anticipation of the club's regular season opener next Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.

"We have to trim our roster," said Cooper. "It's that fine line where you have to play as many guys as possible and give as many guys as much ice time as possible. You also have to balance the fact that we have to create a little bit of chemistry with some of our players so that when we roll into Opening Night next Friday, we have a little continuity."

"In the first game, we're probably going to be more liberal with the ice time – especially with some of the players who are on the bubble of making the team. We'll gradually change lines a little bit to try to get a feel for other guys playing with each other. We'll continue to slowly reverse the strategy until we get to Sunday's game. Then, we'll definitely be looking to have some solid lines together so we can get a feel for what we'll have on the 7th."

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