While the Tampa Bay Lightning may have had a year to forget other than Steven Stamkos’ epic 60-goal season, their AHL-affiliate in Norfolk has had a year for the record books. The number one seed Admirals from the AHL’s Eastern Conference closed out the regular season with 28 straight wins.
Let that sink in for a minute. From Super Sunday, on February 5, until April 15, the Admirals didn’t lose a single game. They set a North American professional hockey record for consecutive wins. Twenty-six of the twenty-eight wins were in regulation, with one in overtime and one in a shootout. They set franchise records for wins (55) and points (113) in 76 games, 14 points ahead of the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Barons.
The Admirals (55-18-1-12) are led by AHL Rookie of the Year and AHL MVP Cory Conacher (80 PTS, 39 G, 41 A). Fellow rookie Tyler Johnson also had a points streak that lasted from March 3 until March 24 (19 PTS, 11 G, 8 A). In net, they are anchored by Dustin Tokarski (2.23 GAA, .913 SAV %), who Lightning fans were able to get familiar with during his short stint with the big club later in the 2011-2012 season.
Jaroslav Janus (2.36 GAA, .914 SAV %) also filled in nicely when Tokarski was at the NHL level, even finishing the year with a 15-game winning streak of his own.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Admirals took care of business against the eighth-seeded Manchester Monarchs, disposing of them 3-1 in their best-of-five series.
In the Eastern Conference semifinals (best-of-seven), the Admirals are matched up against the sixth-seeded Connecticut Whale, a team they won all four games against during the regular season. After falling 3-2 in overtime in Game One, Norfolk bounced back with a 4-1 win in Game Two.
Tokarski stopped 27 of 28 shots while holding the Whale to one goal on seven power play attempts. Conacher and Johnson each scored a goal in the victory. Game Three will be Sunday night, May 6 at 7:00 PM at the XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Hartford, Connecticut with the series tied 1-1.
Game Four will also be in Hartford on Monday, May 7 at 7:00 PM. Game Five (if necessary) will be at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, May 9 at the Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Connecticut due to a scheduling conflict in the Whales’ home arena. The final two games have yet to be determined in the best-of-seven semifinal matchup.