The Norfolk Admirals Begin Their Season


The Oilers new ECHL farm team, the Norfolk Admirals, get their season underway tonight. Most times at hockey’s Double-A level, there are few, if any, decent prospects, but the Oilers have a handful of signed players with the Admirals who are under the guidance of new head coach Eric Veilleux.

Up front the most-recognizable name is that of Greg Chase. After impressive rookie and training camps last season, Chase was expected to come into the 2015-16 season as the type of player who could provide the Triple-A Bakersfield Condors with some bite and energy in the lineup. That wasn’t the case, however, as Chase was handed a somewhat surprising demotion to Norfolk. He needs to recollect himself quickly to stay in the good books of the Oilers, and it seems that he is headed in that direction.

“His attitude has certainly bounced back. He’s played well with the puck and shown some creativity in manufacturing scoring chances. Not only for Chase, but for a lot of young players, they have to forget about the good ol’ days of junior. Now it’s a matter of being responsible at both ends and be reliable defensively. You have to learn the defensive game and be good at it. Chase has shown a lot of skills. He just needs to be more reliable defensively.” -Veilleux

Chase, potentially a steal as a seventh-round pick in 2013, will start the season on the Admirals’ second line alongside Josh Currie and Maxime Legault. Joining Chase up front is Oilers’ 2013 second-round pick Marco Roy, who will centre the Admirals’ third line with Alexis Loiselle and Alexandre Ranger. It’s been a tough road for Roy to navigate since getting drafted. He failed to land an entry-level contract from the Oilers and wound up being signed as a minor-league free agent. After several underwhelming performances, Roy showed some signs of life during Norfolk’s training camp.

“I saw him in junior at the Memorial Cup last year and he was OK, nothing special. During Bakersfield’s camp I saw him for two days and he was just OK. But once he got here, he had a great camp. I’m not saying I’m surprised because I’ve seen it before that when a player gets comfortable with where he is, he starts to play better. I told him yesterday the way he was playing was awesome. The key for him is to play a good two-way game.” -Veilleux

Rankin

Connor Rankin, who was signed by Bakersfield at the same time as Braden Christoffer, is on Norfolk’s reserve list due to injury.

Under normal circumstance, Oilers prospect Ben Betker might have at least started the year in Bakersfield, but he got ticketed for Norfolk for two reasons. One, the Condors are stacked on defence especially with Darnell Nurse at least temporarily in town and Nikita Nikitin’s pending arrival, and two, both Dillon Simpson and Martin Gernat are returning from injury at some point.

Betker is better served in Norfolk for now anyway since he’ll play in the top four, and he got off to a good start in a pre-season game against Reading.

“He’s done very well. We had two hard weeks of practice during camp and he was tough, physical, and responsible as well.” -Veilleux

In goal, the Admirals are going with Ty Rimmer and rookie Philippe Cadorette, who was Veilleux’s netminder with the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Norfolk may wind up getting Eetu Laurikainen if and when the Condors’ goaltending mix straightens out.  Currently, Laurikainen is the back-up to Laurent Brossoit but if Ben Scrivens’ impending arrival comes to fruition the Finnish netminder floats to Norfolk where he’ll be the No. 1 guy.

AYE ADMIRAL: A handful of last season’s ECHL Condors are still in the system and made the move to Norfolk including top d-man Gabriel Verpaelst and winger Jonathan Lessard. But Jordan Kremyr, last season’s Condors captain, was deemed expendable and traded to Tulsa.

  • Alsker

    Hopefully Chase is “one step back and two steps forward”. His aggression and ability to make a hockey play are a combo we seriously lack in our lineup. Maybe NN will join Eetu for the trip to Norfolk and receive his just rewards. Oh, having a troll spam your article proves you belong here, keep it up.

  • Turd Furguson

    Enjoyed your article Scott. Thanks for the insight on the ECHL team. Sure hope that Betker and Chase can develop down there. There’s certainly an appetite for these types of physical players on the big club. Also, I didn’t realize that Scrivens hadn’t been sorted out yet in the ahl. Interesting.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Another good informative story Scott, so far the Condors newbies are adjusting well, maybe they love the 80’s/90’s October weather out here in Bakersfield, California lol Anyways hopefully everything gets sorted out with Scrivens & some of the injured fellas. #letsgocondors

    • For Pete's Sake!

      I agree. Thanks for the great article Scott.

      Inspite of the Oiler’s poor start there is definitely hope on the farm.

      The talent pool in both Bakersfield and Norfolk is deeper than ever.

      Maybe some of the guys on the Oilers should start looking over their shoulders or they could be down on the farm soon, joining their buddies Nikitin and Scrivens.