Courtesy of Norfolk Admirals Web Site
The Hampton Roads Admirals were the last team to qualify for the 1998 Kelly Cup Playoffs. They were also the last team standing. This week and next week, we’ll take a look back at the magical 1998 Kelly Cup Playoffs as the 11-year anniversary of the Admirals’ third ECHL championship approaches.
Entering the final weekend of the 1997-98 regular season, the Admirals found themselves on the outside looking in. In order to make the playoffs for the ninth straight season, Hampton Roads needed to win their final two games, both being played on the road against teams who had already clinched playoff berths. Even if they pulled off those two victories, the Blue and Gold would still need a loss by the Columbus Chill to leap past them in the Northern Conference standings and make the 1998 Kelly Cup Playoffs.
On March 28, defenseman Chad Ackerman scored twice – including the game-winning goal in the third period – as Hampton Roads pulled off a 5-4 victory against the Wheeling Nailers. That same night, the Chill fell to the Peoria Rivermen to give the Admirals control of their destiny in the regular season’s final game.
The following day, Ackerman came through with another game-winning marker in a one-goal game, as Hampton Roads topped the Chesapeake Icebreakers 4-3 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. With the victory, Hampton Roads improved their season record to 32-28-10 for 74 points – just one more point than Columbus – and became the 16th and final team to qualify for the ECHL post-season, earning the eighth seed in the Northern Conference.