It will be one of the more surreal hockey games many of the Syracuse Crunch have ever played in on Friday night. The Crunch, who are in their first year as the Tampa Bay Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate, and who won the Calder Cup last season as the Norfolk Admirals, will take on the "new" Norfolk Admirals at the War Memorial. The 2012 version of the Admirals just happen to be the former Crunch team who played in Syracuse as the Anaheim Ducks' affiliate last season.
"You're playing a team that just a few months ago you were wearing that jersey," explains Crunch defensemen Mark Barberio, "so it's gonna be an emotional game for sure. It might be a little awkward at first in warmups to see those old jerseys and your old (jersey) number maybe."
"It's gonna be strange to see the jerseys," agrees Crunch head coach Jon Cooper, "I've been used to (them) for the past couple of years, and to see those around, it's gonna be different, that's for sure."
The Crunch and Admirals will play each other three times over the span of about week, with two more games in Norfolk on January 4th and 5th. The players and coaches agree that it will be especially unique for the road team, coming into the arena that they used to call home.
"It probably means a little bit more to (the new Norfolk, coming into their old building)," admits Cooper, "just as it will mean a little bit more to us when we go to Norfolk in a week."
"It's gonna be interesting how that fans react to them coming back," says Cory Conacher , "hopefully we can come out strong and show them that we're the new team here, and they're not going to kick us around."
The puck drops between the Crunch and Admirals at 7:30 on Friday night at the War Memorial Arena.