This month marks the 10 year anniversary of the Norfolk Admirals capturing the American Hockey League's Calder Cup championship. There are still two players from that team, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat, that will be in action for the Tampa Bay Lightning in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals against Colorado from Denver.
As the Lightning try to go after a 3-peat, Killorn and Palat have nothing but fond memories of their time in Hampton Roads. The Admirals won a pro record 28 straight games in route to a title a decade ago in Norfolk. Both feel it played a key role into them being where they are now.
"I joined a team that won 19 straight games in the AHL", says Killorn. "There were some players that got hurt and I got in the lineup and didn't come out of the lineup, but we wound up winning a Calder Cup."
Leading the charge then and now with the Lightning has been their head coach, Jon Cooper who was the architect in building what they have now. "I've been with Coach Cooper for more than 10 years now", says Palat. "One thing I learned was the winning mentality."
Cooper's foundation with the Lightning is attempting to become the first NHL team to win three straight titles since the New York Islanders had a run of four in a row from 1980-1983. He has no doubt it begins in the minors. "The relationship we fostered and the communication we had in the minors transformed right into the NHL and I think when you get to this point I think there has to be major trust."
That trust continues tonight with game in one in Denver, Colorado.