The Lightning got a much needed chance to sleep in Friday morning as the team bus from the hotel in Winnipeg didn’t leave until 10:40 a.m. After a three-hour flight the team was back in the Eastern time zone in Norfolk, Virginia, the home of their AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. The Lightning played an exhibition against the Admirals, bringing NHL action back to the Scope Arena for the first time in 10 years.
The game featured a split roster of players, one side wearing Lightning jerseys and the other wearing Admirals colors. The most interesting sight of the night had to be seeing captain Vincent Lecavalier wearing No. 44 for the Norfolk team. As I’m sure you know, Lecavalier has never worn a minor league jersey in his career.
After the first period Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Alex Tanguay, Mattias Ohlund, Ryan Malone, Mike Smith and Antero Niittymaki took off the pads and made their way to the concourse to sign autographs for the fans in attendance. The line for Lecavalier, Ohlund and Tanguay wrapped halfway around the arena. I really can’t say enough about how the fans in Norfolk responded to the game. Everyone was very supportive.
At the final horn it was the "Lightning" taking a 5-4 victory despite being out shot 40-21. Rookie Dustin Tokarski, playing for team "Lightning" was strong in his time between the pipes, giving the Admirals fans some something to talk about as the team continues through training camp. Tokarski has won championships at nearly every level in his career and his play in the exhibition showed fans he is ready to complete with Riku Helenius for the top spot in Norfolk this season.
After the game, the Lightning jumped on the plane and left for Atlanta, the first and only NHL city on this week-long road trip. The team has been given Saturday off and some of the players will be heading to Bobby Dodd Stadium to catch an ACC football clash between Georgia Tech and North Carolina.