(Norfolk Admirals press release) The American Hockey League announced today that forward Cory Conacher of the Norfolk Admirals has been named the winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHLâ€™s outstanding rookie for the 2011-12 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the leagueâ€™s 30 member cities.
Conacher signed with Norfolk following four seasons at Canisius College and an impressive training camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has been one of the top scorers in the league since opening the year with 12 points in nine games during October. Conacher, who only once has gone more than two games without a point this season, leads all AHL rookies with 75 points and ranks second in goals (35) and assists (40) while showing a plus-13 rating in 72 games for the Admirals. He is also first among rookies in power-play goals (14) and game-winning goals (seven). A 22-year-old native of Burlington, Ont., Conacher represented Norfolk at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic and tied game highs with two goals and three points in the contest. Named an All-Rookie Team member and a Second Team AHL All-Star at left wing last week, Conacher signed a two-year deal with the Lightning on Mar. 1.
The record goes down, and it goes down hard.
Jaroslav Janus stopped all 20 shots he faced for his 10th consecutive victory. It's also his first shutout of the season, and he pushes his save percentage up to .909 for the year.
NOR Conacher, (33) (Kostka), 11:25
NOR Johnson, (27) (Palat, Panik), 17:14
NOR Hutchings, (2) , 5:38
NOR Panik, (18) , 6:53
NOR Conacher, (34) (Panik, Johnson), 8:07 (PP)
Conacher scored on a fortuitous bounce that went through Justin Peters for the game opening goal and then a shot from the right wing circle on the power play on a busted play that was supposed to go into the slot. The most impressive play of the day to me, though, was when he picked up 196 pound defenseman Michal Jordan and threw him to the ice like a piece of garbage during a goal mouth scrum.
You're going to see Panik's breakaway goal on youtube. The Panik attack came in the form of a deke to the right where he came back through his legs and roofed it going top shelf to his left. So much skill there for a guy who is also so strong on his skates. He had a 3 point night tonight to put him at 18 goals and 37 points in 54 games. To put that in perspective, Carter Ashton had 19 goals and 35 points in 56 games before he left the Admirals. The two are now tied for 15th in rookie scoring in the league, and the emergence of Panik and Tyler Johnson, who set an Admirals goal scoring streak record tonight, is what made Ashton expendable, to a degree.
So, the Admirals now own the all-time AHL record for a single-season winning streak at 18 games. They also tied the mark set by Syracuse a few years back of 18 wins that they spread over 2 years winning 15 to end one season and 3 to start the next. Norfolk can break that record, too, with a win against Albany on Friday. That's the last bit of streak business that's left to take care of before they need to divert their attention to locking down their division and the conference, and getting into the playoffs healthy and ready to smoke through the early rounds quickly.
I'll have a separate story up later on the streak from the perspective of Bolt Prospects and the Lightning organization sometime within the next day or two. Suffice it to say, there's a reason why we have spent the past 6-1/2 years or so doing the website, and days like this validate the effort.
With St. John's losing to Manchester today, Norfolk opened up a 10 point lead in the conference with the IceCaps holding 3 games in hand. So, Norfolk now controls its destiny in the conference with a key weekend set against St. John's still on the schedule. Norfolk also maintained a 10 point edge on the Pens in the division, with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton holding a game in hand. Remember, the AHL reduced its regular season schedule to 76 games starting this year, down from 80 in order to reduce heavy scheduling and promote better player health. So, Norfolk has just 10 games left on their schedule before the postseason, so the magic numbers are going to come up really quickly now for clinching. Norfolk's remaining games are against: Albany (3 games), Binghamton (3 games), St. John's (2 games), Adirondack (1 game), and Wilkes/Barre-Scranton (1 game). So only 3 of Norfolk's remaining contests are against teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today. Advantage: Admirals.
Oh, and all 5 goals today came from rookies. If Jon Cooper's not the AHL Coach of the Year this year, then obviously the award is trash.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jaroslav Janus started his third game in three nights and stopped 27 of 30 for his 7th consecutive victory.
NOR Smith, (22) , 15:00
BRI Frischmon, (8) , 1:17 (SH)
NOR Barberio, (10) (Conacher, Johnson), 17:16 (PP)
NOR Panik, (14) (Smith, Johnson), 19:28 (PP)
BRI Mouillierat, (7) (Riley, Oleksy), 7:50
BRI McNeely, (7) (Sinkewich, Rakhshani), 11:14
NOR Barberio, (11) (Johnson, Ouellet), 13:12 (PP)
NOR Panik, (15) (Labrie), 15:52
NOR Johnson, (24) (Panik, Ouellet), 17:32 (PP)
Barberio's 2 goals moved him to 11 on the season, which is 2 better than his rookie campaign last year. He holds an 11 point advantage on St. John's defenseman Paul Postma for the league lead in scorers amongst blueliners.
Tyler Johnson has moved into 3rd amongst all AHL rookies in scoring, 3 points back of Gustav Nyqvist of Grand Rapids and 16 points back of teammate Cory Conacher.
Panik is enjoying the month of March so far with 3 goals and 8 points in 5 games. Today's Panik attack was his first 3-point game of his career.
Wednesday night in Norfolk becomes a big game for two reasons now. It was always going to be a big game with the rival Pens in town lurking 8 points back with a game in hand. But, now, it becomes even bigger with the Admirals' ridiculous, video game-like winning streak hitting 15 with a chance to run to 16. If the Admirals pull of the win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, they hop a bus to Charlotte on Friday with the opportunity to tie the all-time AHL record for consecutive victories at 17. If they pull that off, the rematch is in Charlotte at 3 pm on Sunday, with a chance to make history. It will not be easy. The Pens currently are the 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Checkers are the 3 seed in the West. But, at least its not another 3 games in 3 nights marathon like this weekend was.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It's a dozen, now.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 18 shots for his 27th win of the season. That ties his career high for wins set in his rookie season 2 years ago. He is also up to 8 victories in his last 8 starts.
NOR Conacher, (31) (Gudas, Devos), 7:04
NOR Ouellet, (14) (Angelidis, Picard), 8:28
NOR Johnson, (19) (Jackson, Angelidis), 14:32 (SH)
SPR Regner, (2) (Savard, MacLeod), 8:15
NOR Panik, (13) (Conacher, Barberio), 10:19 (PP)
NOR Johnson, (20) (Palat, Panik), 11:00
Tyler Johnson (pictured), Mike Angelidis, and Cory Conacher were the game's three stars. Johnson's now tied for 4th in the league in rookie scoring. He's got no shot of catching Conacher, but there's no denying how impressive of a debut campaign he's had. With 20 goals now, he's threatening to break into the top-20 in the AHL in that category, as well.
Just to reiterate my previous point about Jon Cooper deserving coach of the year, the Admirals rookies tonight had 4 goals and 8 points tonight, combined, between Conacher, Devos, Johnson, Panik, and Palat. That's a 12 game winning streak where your sled dogs are just puppies, which in my mind is indicative of excellent coaching.
Fortunately for the Admirals, there was no let down thanks to a little pre-game altercation that got their juices going and probably helped propel them out to the 3-0 first period lead. Springfield's got muscle in the physical department, but they probably are regretting getting the Admirals, who have much more muscle in the offensive department, ready to go right out of the gate tonight.
Panik attack, y'all!
The Admirals expanded their division lead to 10 points over the idle Pens and they maintained a 12 point buffer on Hershey, with the Bears winning tonight. Hershey has 2 games in hand on the Admirals and the Pens have 3, but things look very good right now in the division.
In the conference, Syracuse screamed past St. John's with 4 goals in the final frame to steal a 6-4 win. So, the Admirals now hold an 8 point lead in the conference with St. John's still holding 5 games in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.