The Norfolk Admirals have released the full 2012-2013 schedule. On October 12th, opening night, the Ads will play against the Worcester Sharks, AHL affiliate for the San Jose Sharks. Somehow it ends up being an intense game of sorts, even though the two teams rarely play each other. [Ed. Note: Is it just a coincidence that we're playing our home opener against the Sharks that very night?]
Fans were hoping and praying for an opening weekend match-up against the former Admiral players now with the Syracuse Crunch. There are a couple reasons for this. The players still in the minors for Tampa Bay would get to see the championship banner - that they earned - raised and feel the love that the fan-base still has for them; it's still an unimaginable amount even though Tampa moved them.
The move is another reason in itself. The former team should have first try at ending the streak of regular season wins by Norfolk that paused at 28 before the playoffs started. The players may be different, but the franchise of record for the streak stays the same. We'll have to wait for the first match up between the two on December 28th in Syracuse. The first time the Crunch players return to their former-home in Norfolk is January 4th. It should be an awesome series between two good prospect pools.
Two other important dates in the official release are December 6th and January 6th. The Admirals will be hosting the Hershey Bears at the Washington Capitals arena, the Verizon Center. That is not a typo. Somehow the Admirals are hosting a game in DC. The latter date is an away game where the Admirals will play the Charlotte Checkers in the Carolina Hurricanes home arena, PNC Arena in Raleigh. The Admirals won the Geico Challenge Cup in a series of really good games against the Checkers. No idea yet if the Challenge will be brought back this season. I plan on attending both games. If any of you live around these areas feel free to shout at me and we can talk hockey.
The schedule in the AHL is built towards divisional and rival play; seldom do you play teams in the Western Conference. The only exception is the Checkers. They were bumped to the West when the league filled all 30 team slots. Norfolk will play the Hershey Bears, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Charlotte Checkers, Syracuse Crunch, Binghamton Senators and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers eight times each. The biggest and best rivalry games for the Admirals are against the Bears, Baby Penguins and the Checkers. I am sure both front offices are hoping for the series against the Crunch to be a good one. The two teams are playing a record eight games against each other in one season; last year it was four (credit to Allokago for that stat).
The rest of the season is comprised of four-game series against the Worcester Sharks, Adirondack Phantoms, Connecticut Whale, Albany Devils, Providence Bruins, St. John's IceCaps [Ed. Note: Eliminated Ducklings from playoffs this past post-season], and Springfield Falcons. Altogether, the Admiral's play 48 of their 76 games against teams that made the playoffs last year. The teams they don't play in the regular season, but met in the post season are the Manchester Monarchs and Toronto Marlies. They beat Manchester, Connecticut, St. John's and Toronto on their way to winning the Calder Cup.