Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dimmen's ring 12/6

Adirondack Phantoms defenseman Jeff Dimmen met up with some of his old friends from Norfolk, Va., earlier this week and reminisced of their Calder Cup championship over a nice dinner.

There is a good chance Dimmen will see them again Saturday, but this reunion will not be as civil.

The Phantoms host the Syracuse Crunch at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center, which means many of the players Dimmen won a Calder Cup with last season will be visiting. They were all skating for the Norfolk Admirals at the time of the championship, but Tampa Bay changed its affiliation this summer and now places prospects in Syracuse.

That’s where all but two members of last season’s championship Admirals team gathered Monday night to receive their Calder Cup rings.

For one final time, they celebrated a record-setting season during which they won a pro-hockey-record 28 straight regular-season games and finished 43-3 after Super Bowl Sunday.

In the midst of the reunion, though, was some chirping over the impending Phantoms-Crunch meeting. There won't be much of the same camaraderie when two points are at stake.

“We were giving it to each other each way there pretty good on Monday,” Dimmen said.

The Phantoms and Crunch have already seen each other three times this season — Syracuse took two wins and an overtime loss — but Dimmen hasn’t been in the Adirondack line-up for any of them.

Saturday’s game could change that, though, as fellow defensemen Marc-Andre Bourdon is out with an illness and Oliver Lauridsen missed two days of practice this week with an upper-body injury. Lauridsen returned to practice Thursday, but skated as the seventh defenseman.

“It’ll be nice to see them on Saturday and it’ll be kind of fun playing them, hopefully,” Dimmen said of his former teammates.

Many of the key contributors on the Norfolk team -- league MVP Cory Conacher, speedy center Tyler Johnson and goaltender Dustin Tokarski, to name three -- are still with the Crunch, who are off to a 13-5-1-1 start and lead the American Hockey League with 74 goals scored.

Most of the off-season departures are still on the East Coast, so guys like Trevor Smith and Mike Kostka came in from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Toronto, respectively. Only wing Alexandre Picard and goalie Jaroslav Janus, who both signed overseas during the off-season, missed the ceremony.

The rings, Dimmen said, include many design features that defined the Admirals season. He didn't get too specific, but this article from the Tampa Bay Lightning site explains them fairly well.

"They're awesome," Dimmen said. "They did a great job designing them. And (coach Jon) Cooper really helped incorporate everything that was our season last year into it. It's pretty special."

It wasn't Dimmen's first championship ring. He won a national championship playing for Cooper's team in junior hockey, so he got one there too. The two of them, though, don't really compare.

"This one's definitely a little nicer," he said. "The other one's just juniors. This one's a little more special. It's a lot harder to win a Calder Cup than it is a junior championship."


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