The Tampa Bay Lightning's minor league affiliates have never been known for competitiveness or success. In the past, it seemed the concept of a minor league affiliate seemed to be an after-thought as the Bolts decided they would be better off investing in the NHL club. Player development? Please...
Yet things change. For the first time ever, the Lightning's top minor-league affiliate will be vying for the AHL's top prize - the Calder Cup.
The Norfolk Admirals - they of the epic 28 game winning streak - have completed a sweep of the St. John's IceCaps (AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets) to claim the AHL's Eastern Conference title with a 4-0 victory this evening in St. John's. The Admirals now await the winner of the AHL's Western Conference final between the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers) and the Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs).
The Ads saw goals from Tyler Johnson, Evan Oberg, Trevor Smith and Brandon Segal as well as stellar goaltending from Dustin Tokarski, who posted his second consecutive shutout of the series (in back-to-back games, no less).
Congratulations to Ads fans, the city of Norfolk, head coach Jon Cooper and Ads GM Julien BriseBois.
Of course, the Admirals aren't done yet. Not by a long shot. There's one more piece of business that they have to attend to: Claim the Calder Cup as their own by winning the looming best-of-seven championship series.
The schedule for the championship series has yet to be announced.