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Anchors aweigh!

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The Norfolk Admirals have won the Richard F. Canning Trophy as the AHL’s Eastern Conference champions for 2011-12, claiming the title with a 4-0 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, N.L., on Tuesday night.

Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski made 29 saves in Game 4 for his second consecutive shutout. The Admirals set an AHL record for fewest goals allowed in a four-game Calder Cup playoff series, outscoring St. John’s by a 14-2 margin in the sweep. Evan Oberg, Tyler Johnson, Trevor Smith and Brandon Segal scored for Norfolk in the decisive victory.

The top affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, the Admirals finished with the best record in the AHL (55-18-1-2, 113 points) during the regular season on the strength of a record-shattering 28-game winning streak to close out the year. Under second-year head coach Jon Cooper, Norfolk defeated the Manchester Monarchs (3-1) in the conference quarterfinals, the Connecticut Whale (4-2) in the conference semifinals and the IceCaps (4-0) in the conference finals to reach the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in the franchise’s 12 AHL seasons.

Norfolk is the ninth consecutive team from the AHL’s East Division to win the Canning Trophy, following Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (2004, ’08), Philadelphia (2005), Hershey (2006, ’07, ’09, ’10) and Binghamton (2011).

The Admirals will face either the Oklahoma City Barons or the Toronto Marlies in the 2012 Calder Cup Finals. The Marlies currently lead the Western Conference Finals, two games to one.

Established in 1990, the AHL’s Eastern Conference championship trophy honors Richard F. Canning, who served the AHL for more than 50 years during his career, including a term as league president from 1958-61. Mr. Canning is recognized as the author of the AHL’s constitution, by-laws and regulations.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
1-Norfolk Admirals vs. 2-St. John’s IceCaps

Game 1 – Thurs., May 17 – NORFOLK 6, St. John’s 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 19 – NORFOLK 3, St. John’s 1 
Game 3 – Mon., May 21 – Norfolk 1, ST. JOHN’S 0 (OT)
Game 4 – Tue., May 22 – Norfolk 4, ST. JOHN’S 0