Eric Neilson and P.C. Labrie Lift Calder Cup with Norfolk
June 11, 2012
The Norfolk Admirals completed a storybook 2011-12 season by capturing the franchise’s first Calder Cup championship with a 6-1 win over the Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Saturday afternoon.
Former Peoria Rivermen Eric Neilson (pictured) and Pierre-Cedric Labrie were members of the historic team. Neilson played 68 games with the Rivermen from 2007-09 and racked up 289 penalty minutes. Labrie was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks late in the 2009-10 season and appeared in 16 games with Peoria.
The Admirals, the top development team of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning, finished off a four-game sweep of the Marlies in the Calder Cup Finals. After completing the regular season with a professional hockey record 28-game winning streak, Norfolk went 15-3 in the postseason to finish with 70 victories in 94 games overall, including 43 in their final 46 games of the year.
2012 AHL MVP and Rookie of the Year Cory Conacher recorded four assists in the Game 4 clincher, while fellow 2012 AHL All-Rookie forward Tyler Johnson notched two goals and two assists and defenseman Mike Kostka scored twice.
Norfolk never trailed over its final two playoff series and finished the postseason with 10 consecutive wins, outscoring their opponents 34-7 during the streak. Under second-year head coach Jon Cooper, the Admirals eliminated the Manchester Monarchs (3-1), Connecticut Whale (4-2) and St. John’s IceCaps (4-0) before defeating Toronto in the Finals. The Admirals’ 2012 playoff roster featured seven players who appeared in the NHL with the parent Lightning this season.
Norfolk forward Alexandre Picard won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs, leading the Admirals with nine goals and 16 points while registering a plus-11 rating as well as a team-high 48 penalty minutes in 18 playoff games.
Norfolk’s victory brings the curtain down on the AHL’s 76th season. In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and this season marked the 11th consecutive year in which more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America.
2012 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E1-Norfolk Admirals vs. W2-Toronto Marlies
Game 1 – Fri., June 1 – NORFOLK 3, Toronto 1
Game 2 – Sat., June 2 – NORFOLK 4, Toronto 2
Game 3 – Thurs., June 7 – Norfolk 1, TORONTO 0 (OT)
Game 4 – Sat., June 9 – Norfolk 6, TORONTO 1