A crowd of 5,004 Admirals fans were in downtown Norfolk yesterday to partake in the Admirals season opener against the Worcester Sharks, the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. Prior to puck drop, the Admirals organization officially unveiled the 2011-2012 Calder Cup Championship Banner.
After the ceremony was over, it was all business for the Admirals. The Admirals came out dictating much of the tempo in the 1st period. At the games 2:07 mark in the 1st period, John Mitchell received a pass from Devante Smith-Pelly who stuck it past Sharks goalie Stalock to make it 1-0. Norfolk saw its lead grow to a pair just ten minutes later from Toronto born Peter Holland, the left-winger, intercepted the loose puck and shot past Stalock’s blocker to widening the goal margin to two.
Worcester took control in the middle stanza outshooting Norfolk 11 to 5. Travis Oleksuk redirected a teammates shot for the Sharks’ first goal. Sharks’ right-winger Sebastian Stalberg put a wrist shot by Norfolk netminder Andersen to tie the game at 2.
At the beginning of the third, Norfolk came out of the dressing room amped up. Veteran forward Troy Bodie dropped the mitts with Sharks defenseman Matt Pelech. Bodie came to the aide of 1st year player pro Chris Wagner who was boarded by Pelech. After exiting the penalty box, Bodie redirected a Jay Rosehill shot to give the Admirals a 3-2 lead. AHL All-Star Kyle Palmieri gave the Admirals breathing room by scoring an empty net goal late into the third that proved to be the nail in the coffin for Worcester.
Admirals’ first year rookie Chris Wagner commented on the game last night saying, “We set the tone with two goals in the first and you can’t really ask for a much better start than that. We kind of had a letdown in the second. I think we only had 5 shots but showed we had some character and turned it on in the 3rd and got a nice W.” When asked how it felt to see the Calder Cup Banner dropped from the catwalk before the first game of the season, Wagner indicated there is no reason why they couldn’t raise a banner again next year. When asked about his role on the team this year, the Massachusetts native declares that he will be a grinder and will provide energy for the team; however; Chris also said with ever role he is given he will do the best he can do to help the team win. Wagner made his pro debut tonight. Wagner said, “ it was exciting and it’s something you work towards your whole life”. Chris’ parents and family were on hand to watch his pro debut. When talking about the differences between the pro game and college hockey Wagner stated, “ the size of the guys. There’s a few 6’4” or 6’5” guys in college but, here they’re monsters in the back and it’s defiantly faster but size and strength is the biggest thing.”
The Admirals will try and sweep the weekend set against the Sharks tonight at the Norfolk Scope. Puck drop is at 7:15.
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