The American Hockey League crowned its 2012 Calder Cup champions this past weekend and three former Rochester Americans are now in celebration mode as the Norfolk Admirals defeated the Toronto Marlies in dominant fashion with a 6-1 win Saturday at Ricoh Coliseum to complete the four-game sweep en route to the franchise’s first-ever league title.
The 2011-12 edition of the Admirals, which included former Amerk defensemen Mike Kostka and Evan Oberg, in addition to rookie forward Cory Conacher, finished off a record-setting storybook season that saw Norfolk become the AHL’s fourth straight East Division representative to capture the Calder Cup. After completing the regular season with a professional hockey record 28-game winning streak, Norfolk went 16-3 in the postseason to finish with 70 victories in 94 games overall, including 43 in its final 46 games of the year.
Kostka, who led all AHL defensemen in scoring with 12 points (6+6) in the 2012 playoffs, had a career year with the Rochester in 2010-11, finishing his third professional season as the team’s top point-getter and the first in the 56-year history of the franchise to do so as a blueliner. After making his pro debut with the Amerks at the end of the 2007-08 campaign, and then playing the next two seasons in Portland, the Etobicoke, Ontario, native returned to Rochester where he captured career-highs in all offensive categories in goals (16), assists (38), points (54) and penalty minutes (46). He also appeared in all 80 games that season with the Amerks, marking just the second time in three years the rearguard dressed in every regular season contest for his team.
Oberg split the 2010-11 season between Manitoba and Rochester, but his time with the Amerks was cut short as a result of a season-ending neck injury after just five games in the red, white and blue. This season with Norfolk, the Forestburg, Alberta, native registered 23 points (7+16), which included a career-high seven goals, in 42 games while appearing in all 18 postseason contests for the Admirals. He also enjoyed a brief NHL stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning, appearing in three games.
Conacher, the AHL’s reigning Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, achieved unprecedented success in just his first professional season with the Admirals, finishing as the league’s second-best player with 80 points (39+41) in 75 games. Conacher led all AHL rookies in scoring and netted a league-high 39 goals to secure the Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s top goal scorer while earning spots on both the All-Rookie Team and the Second Team All-Star squad, respectively. Conacher made his pro debut with the Amerks at the tail-end of the 2010-11 season following the completion of his collegiate career at Canisius College, where he stands as the all-time leading scorer in school history with 147 career points. The native of Burlington, Ontario appeared in just two games with the Amerks, making his AHL debut against Lake Erie on March 25, 2010 and scoring his first professional goal the following night at Syracuse.