In every city that houses a successful pro hockey franchise, there is a pulse that fans and players rely on. There is one vital role on the team that affects the pulse and that is the role of a captain. The 2011-2012 Norfolk Admirals captain Mike Angelidis naturally fit into this role from a 28-game win streak all the way to hoisting the Calder Cup in front of his family back home in Toronto.
Anyone can wear the “C”, but not every one succeeds in the role. The 28-year-old put his heart and soul into the responsibility and thrived. Angelidis reminisced about his first “C”stating, “It was difficult at first. I’d never been a captain. I just tried to lead by example and tried to be there for the guys when they were excited and tried to keep us on track and tried to keep us all together.”
Perhaps the defining moment of his captaincy came after a 4-2 loss against the Springfield Falcons on Super Bowl Sunday 2012. Following the 4-2 upset, Angelidis and Company held a “players only meeting”. According to the 6’1” center the meeting was about, “how much better we were and how we needed to pull together and how were we going to show up for one game and then let go the other game.”
This impromptu meeting assisted Angelidis in elevating the pulse and setting the tone for the historic 28-game win streak that began on February 28th against the Adirondack Phantoms and ironically closed out the regular season streak against Adirondack on April 15th. Norfolk finished the 2011-2012 regular season with 113 points which secured home ice advantage all throughout the playoffs.
Entering the playoffs there was an electric atmosphere that surrounded the team which helped the pulse beat until the last hurrah which was a parade in downtown Norfolk where the players and coaches celebrated the team’s first Calder Cup with thousands of fans. The captain seemed to be all smiles saying, “It was amazing to see that so many people came out to support us. It was special. It’s not very often you get to enjoy that moment. I’ll never forget it.”
Perhaps the pulse flat lined the day after the parade as the Tampa Bay Lightning announced they were uprooting their AHL team to Syracuse, NY for the 2012-2013 season. Angelidis spoke on the move stating, “It was sad to leave, but it was a new start. Norfolk was a great city to play in and I loved playing there. It was nice, but it’s nice in Syracuse.”
On January 4th, 2013 Syracuse Crunch captain Mike Angelidis led the way into Scope for the first time since the Cup win. This homecoming upped the pulse rate for fans and players who held ties with the 2011-2012 Admirals. Mike shared his thoughts on his first trip back stating, “It was really weird coming back because of the amazing fans there and amazing people. It was home for us, but at the end of the day we came to win and play hockey. It would have been nice to see the Banners raised in Norfolk, but we didn’t get to witness that. It was still nice to come back and see them already raised.”
While the 2011-2012 Admirals excelled on ice, they all succeeded off ice as well. Many members of the team could be sighted after games in suits signing autographs, taking pictures, and talking hockey in the parking garage below Scope Arena which has become the “unofficial” meet and greet station after games. Angelidis spoke on the bond that helped his team flutter with fans, “We always tried to be out in the community and tried to be involved and give everyone the time of day. We wouldn’t be playing hockey if it weren’t for the fans. That’s why every time we get a chance to talk to the fans, we do.”
The 2011-2012 Norfolk Admirals team rewrote hockey history and Captain Mike Angelidis was there for it all leading by example as he poured his heart and soul into the team. A team that will continue to elevate pulses anytime they’re mentioned.
Follow Ted on Twitter @bauerhockeydude