The Norfolk Admirals celebrated their Calder Cup championship with about 5,000 fans on Wednesday afternoon, as they traveled down Granby Street in Norfolk in the back of a caravan of pick-up trucks. The parade procession began at Plume Street, made its way down Granby Street and concluded at the Norfolk Scope plaza for a celebration and beard-shaving.
Fans lined the street and cheered on their champion ice hockey team in true Norfolk Admirals fan style. Bearing signs, banners and lots of happy faces, the crowd then followed the team to the Scope plaza where speeches were given by Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim, Admirals owner Ken Young, Coach Jon Cooper, ‘Voice of the Admirals’ Pete Michaud, Admirals captain Mike Angeledis and several other Admirals players.
Before beginning his speech, Coach Cooper held up a cup of beer and toasted the crowd. “This Bud’s for all of you,” he said, and took a drink. He poured the rest in the Calder Cup and drank from there to the cheers of the crowd and his team.
The team was in great spirits, sharing their pride and excitement for their achievements throughout the season. The Calder Cup made the rounds between players and was taken into the crowd so fans could touch the coveted trophy.
Before the beard-shaving began, the Admirals sang along with the team’s unofficial anthem, ‘We Are Young’ by Fun. The words, ‘We are young…so let’s set the world on fire…we can burn brighter than the sun’ are appropriately symbolic for this rookie-rich team. This was a moment that was bittersweet, as it celebrates the unity and bonds of friendship this team of champions has formed over the season and the end of an era, as there will most likely be major changes in the 2012-13 season. Note: The Admirals NHL affiliate, the Tampa Bay Lightning, have officially signed an affiliation agreement with the Syracuse Crunch.
Scott Jackson and Eric Nielson went through calisthenics to “warm up” for the big event of shaving off their beards, which have taken on a notoriety of their own this year due to the pair’s video spots to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for pediatric cancer.
The Admirals defensemen have put their beards through vigorous work-outs and have enjoyed a day at the beach to relax. When asked if he missed his beard, Eric Nielson replied as he rubbed his clean-shaven face, ‘It was a love-hate relationship.’
Certainly, the Admirals’ players felt lighter and less itchy when the playoff beards were shaved off. It was the end to another phase in the Admirals’ Calder Cup championship run. Sporting newly clean-shaven faces, the Admirals came down off the stage and mingled with the crowd, signing autographs, taking pictures and conversing with fans. They were wished well in their future endeavors, congratulated and sent off in great style.
The 2012 Norfolk Admirals will never be forgotten by the city of Norfolk, the fans and the American Hockey League. They broke records, won awards, achieved the ultimate in AHL hockey and remained humble and grateful to their adoring fans. They made great memories and established life-long friendships among themselves.
As they pack up their bags to head home for the summer, letting the reality of their Calder Cup victory slowly take hold, the Norfolk Admirals are wished the best for a bright future, wherever that may lead them next season.
To stay updated on the Norfolk Admirals, visit their website.