NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk Admirals begin their quest for the Kelly Cup with a fresh look across the organization this year. Led by a new owner and former Admiral, Patrick Cavanagh, the organization has a new coaching staff that is led by ECHL Hall of Famer, Rod Taylor and talented assistant, Ryan McGinnis.
The front office was not immune to shaking up, either. Cavanagh brought on Brad Jones to oversee the day-to-day operations for the Club. Weston DeWitt is the new voice of the Admirals, and Charlie Colon returns to Norfolk to as Group Sales Manager after a brief hiatus away from the club. Additionally, the front office gained the services of Tracey Derring who will oversee sales and premium guest experiences.
On the ice, the team will also have a new look as Taylor has built this team from the ground up. There are only a few returners from last season: Shane Eiserman, John Gustafsson, Christian Horn, Brandon Rumble, and Alex Rodriguez.
Nuts and Bolts:
Record: 27-36-6-3 — 63 pts.
Division/Conference Finish: 6th in the South Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference
Playoff Finish: Did not qualify
Record vs. Division: 25-20-3-2
Record vs. Conference: 26-31-6-2
Goals For Per Game: Total: 218, Average: 3.03 League Rank: 21
Goals Against Per Game: Average 3.86 League Rank: 27
Power Play: 45 goals in 286 power-play opportunities, 20th in ECHL
Penalty Kill: 51 goals allowed in 273 times shorthanded, 19th in ECHL
The Brothers Holmstrom: Ben and Josh, have both signed to play in Norfolk. Both played together in the AHL with Bridgeport. Seeing what both can do on the same team in the ECHL will be interesting.
The starting netminder: the Admirals crease is a talented one, with the likes of Brandon Halverson, Alex Sakellaropoulos and Roman Durny, but who will be the starter on opening night? Halverson has an NHL start to his credit and was in camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also split time between the Maine Mariners and the Hartford Wolfpack last year. Sakellaropoulos comes in having played for the Adirondack Thunder and the Springfield Falcons last season. Durny was Anaheim’s fifth-round draft pick in 2018 and will start his first pro season in Norfolk.
Reestablishing the winning tradition in Norfolk: Since Cavanagh came aboard he has made one thing clear, he wants to establish a winning culture again in Norfolk. Does that pay immediate dividends this season?
Ben Holmstrom – The oldest of the brothers has some offensive upside adding to his game. He is a candidate to wear Captain “C” this year as he is a proven leader at the AHL level captaining the Sound Tigers for several seasons.
Alex Rodriguez – Joined the team after his college season ended and potted 10 points in the last 11 games under former Head Coach Robbie Ftorek. Rodriguez may see his point total improve under Taylor’s new offensive systems.
Roman Durny – How much will he play in Norfolk before being recalled to AHL San Diego? Additionally, how will his game translate to the pro ranks after playing 50 games in the USHL last season earning 29 wins.
Gone but Not Forgotten:
Dominic Alberga – Was on an AHL contract with the Road Runners last year, but spent a majority of his time in the ECHL where he totaled 46 points in 41 games. Alberga elected to sign overseas with HC Bolzano in the EBEL.
Ben Duffy – The Admirals team leader in points (63 points in 70 games) last season has also decided to depart North America for Europe, signing with EC Kassel Huskies in the DEL2. His point-producing ability will be missed.
Jake Wood – Last season, Wood was a fan favorite as he would often drop the mitts with the toughest of opponents. Wood’s physicality and toughness brought grit to the team. He also recorded 26 points over 68 games before retiring from hockey to pursue other life-long opportunities.
Sin Bin Swami Sez:
The Admirals will have a strong first half of the year but encounter some headwinds after the All-Star break. But, the strong first half will propel them to their first ECHL playoff berth since rejoining the ECHL. it will likely be a short playoff run, though, as the Admirals will bow out in the opening round.
What do you think? Let us know how you think Norfolk will do?