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Admirals take the ice on first day of camp. Photo Credit: (DJ Williamson)

NORFOLK, VA – The Norfolk Admirals, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, are gearing up for their 30th season in Hampton Roads.

Over the off-season, the Admirals bolstered their Front Office staff by bringing in a new Play-By-Play announcer who will act as the Public Relations and Broadcasting Manager, Alex Reed, who has ties to the area. In addition, they have recruited Noelle Gonzalez and Sabrena Hirst; Gonzalez will handle the team’s social media accounts, while Hirst will be in charge of fan engagement.

Admirals fans will notice an updated concourse in Scope along with new seats in the lower bowl and a bigger scoreboard. “If you look at the concourse there are some new things like pictures they’re trying to highlight. The seats in the lower level are all being replaced with new seats. The big one is going to be the video scoreboard, which is going to improve our game operations as well as the overall game presentation,” said Reed.

In addition to a more aesthetic arena, the front office staff is looking forward to remembering their roots by celebrating 30 years in Norfolk. On October 12, the Admirals will host an event at the Waterside Sheraton. The event will have raffles, prizes and appearances by former players. This is a ticketed event that will run season ticket holders $30 and non-season ticket holders $89.

According to Reed, the team has seen an increase in season ticket sales.  “We’re actually up 13% in season ticket sales this year. That’s a great number we’re trending upwards.” The Admirals held a phone blitz in an effort to boost season ticket sales. Current contracted players, Ty Reichenbach, Chris Crane and Domenic Alberga lent a helping hand in the campaign.  “The phone blitz was a lot of fun. We sold some season tickets. We had a few players on the phone. It was a fun thing, but at the same time we were trying to let people know about the upcoming season.”

Fans love promotional nights and there are some promotions on the horizon that fans should circle on their calendar. “We’ll have some specialty jersey nights. We’ll have a Marvel Night and a Nickelodeon Night. We’ll have the normal, like the Teddy Bear Toss and Pucks and Paws. The full listing is now available at NorfolkAdmirals.com. They’ll be exciting new jerseys and we’ll have them released soon,”  noted Reed.

On the hockey operations side, securing Robbie Ftorek for the next two seasons is a huge step in the right direction. Said Reed, “I think since he’s got here has got things turned around slowly, but surely. He came into a tough situation through persistence and due diligence he’s been able to acquire some pieces that have made the team better. You saw that in the second half of the season last year.  Unfortunately, they ran out of steam towards the end of the year. Talking to him and the rest of the players that have come in already shows they’re using that good strong second half as momentum going into this year. They all understand they have to get off to a better start this year than they have in years past.”

In an All Star-for-All Star trade, Taylor Cammarata came over from South Carolina in exchange for Grant Besse’s ECHL contract rights. Cammarata chatted about what it’s like to have Ftorek and Assistant Coach Peter Sidorkiewicz as coaches, “They’re very good so far. Last year I had a lot younger coach who wasn’t so experienced as these guys. It’s a little bit different. It’s obvious that these guys will help me a lot this season.” Cammarata also went on to talk about what coaches and players rely on him to do, “I think people overall rely on me to put up points and score goals. That’s mainly what I’m trying to do this year and trying to be consistent as possible.”

Sidorkiewicz is back for his second tour of duty with the Admirals. Photo Credit: (Norfolk Admirals)

Sidorkiewicz spoke about his impressions after the first day of camp, “For me, it’s trying to get your bearings and trying to figure out who the players are. We know the guys who are coming back and some of the guys who have played in the league before. We have some Europeans and guys from the SPHL. You just try and figure out who’s who and keep an eye on them and see what they can do.”

Over the off-season the team signed Crane, a 26-year-old veteran forward who learned to play hockey in Virginia Beach. Norfolk’s coaching staff expects him to be a role model. According to Sidorkiewicz, “We brought Chris in to be a leader with our team and he’s going to be put in significant roles. Hopefully he can do the job for us and I don’t see why not from what I’ve seen from the first few days and just seeing him around the last couple days. He seems like he’s a good kid and he’s here for all the right reasons.”

With all the changes on and off the ice, success is sure to follow for Norfolk.  The Admirals begin climbing the ladder to the post-season on opening night, October 13th, against the Wheeling Nailers at 7:00pm at the Norfolk Scope Arena in downtown Norfolk.

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