With their boots on and their heads held high...
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the win. He finishes his rookie campaign with a 27-25-3 mark, 4 shutouts, a 2.51 GAA, and a .915 sv%. That's a very respectable starting point for a young career.
HER Bouchard, (21) (Perreault, Bourque), 8:43
NOR Fornataro, (11) (Dehner), 13:11
NOR Szczechura, (8) (Parrish, Craig), 2:36 (PP)
HER Giroux, (50) (Aucoin, Bourque), 15:43 (PP)
NOR Simek, (20) (Jones, Mihalik), 1:49
NOR Simek, (21) (Hall, Jackson), 5:41
NOR Hall, (16) , 19:51 (EN/SH)
Unfortunately, there will be no postseason for the Admirals as both Lowell and Bridgeport won tonight, meaning the crossover rule will go in effect. The propriety of the crossover rule is dubious at best considering the unbalanced schedules that are played, which meant Norfolk had to play world beaters Hershey 10 times while clubs like Bridgeport and Lowell got to feast off the worst team in the league, Springfield. Still, it is what it is, and Norfolk will cede its playoff spot to the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division. Norfolk finishes the regular season with 84 points (39-35-3-3).
In the short term, I suspect there might be a recall or two for tomorrow's Lightning season finale in Sunrise against the Panthers. Specifically, I feel like Dana Tyrell deserves a reward for his hard work, and the Lightning may want to take a look at Carter Ashton, who has spent his time on Norfolk's second line since Mark Parrish and Paul Szczechura were sent back down to Norfolk.
In the long term, this offseason will be a challenging one for the Admirals. The Lightning have a lot of decisions to make with veteran players like Ryan Craig and Adam Hall and 3rd and 4th year pros like Blair Jones, Simek, and Vladimir Mihalik. The only knowns I think Admirals fans can count on for next season are that the team will probably be younger and the team will probably still have fantastic goaltending between Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus, who actually has been practicing with the team this week and might've been ready to come back had the Admirals made the post season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Admirals fall one goal, one period short.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss. He's played so well as the workhorse since Jaroslav Janus went down. It's a shame on the night he finally got 3 goals worth of support, he couldn't make it stand up.
NOR Lashoff, (8) (Tyrell, Hall), 8:04
BNG St. Pierre, (24) (Lee, Kinrade), 0:34
BNG O'Brien, (8) (Svendsen, Bailey), 5:25
BNG Daugavins, (20) (Hennessy, Smith), 10:59
BNG Tifu, (3) (Hamel, Lee), 12:16
NOR Parrish, (16) (St. Pierre, Szczechura), 14:14
NOR Fornataro, (10) (Tarkir, Fadden), 16:30 (PP)
BNG Keller, (32) (Smith, Hennessy), 19:46 (EN/PP)
Binghamton goaltender Mike Brodeur picked a heckuva time to stand on his head. Norfolk outshot the Senators 42-30, but in the end the Sens got the goaltending they needed to pull out the victory.
Norfolk burned their game in hand on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and got nothing out of it, so they'll remain 3 points back of the Pens for 3rd place in the East Division. In the crossover, Lowell defeated Worcester in overtime 3-2 and Bridgeport fell 3-1 to Portland. So, all is not lost for the Admirals. They're 4 points back of the Devils and 2 points back of the Sound Tigers while still holding a game in hand on each team.
Unfortunately, the remaining 4 games of the schedule are incredibly difficult, on paper. Norfolk will burn their game in hand tomorrow and could be back in a playoff spot with a win. But, they must win in Hershey to pull off that feat and Hershey is a ridiculous 32-4-0-2 at the Giant Center this season. That will be Norfolk's last road game of the season. The balance of the schedule includes Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and then another back-to-back games against defending champion Hershey and it's league best 57-15-0-3 record, with their 57 wins already being the highest single season total in the history of the AHL. But, games are not played on paper, and Norfolk has played Hershey fairly close under Head Coach Jim Johnson, so the Admirals have at least a puncher's chance.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Five straight wins at home for the Admirals.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 28 shots before stopping 2 out of 4 shooters in the penalty shot session for the shootout win. Janus moved his record to above .500 for the season at 7-6-0 with the win, and he's riding a personal 5 game winning streak.
ALB Terry, (14) (FitzGerald), 3:47
NOR Hall, (12) (Tyrell, Craig), 9:59
NOR Keller, (13) (Mihalik, Tyrell), 16:07 (PP)
ALB McBain, (6) , 0:26
ALB- Terry, McBain
NOR- Keller, Jones, Fornataro, Fadden
In a stunning development, Juraj Simek, the Don of the Presov Mafia, was stopped for the first time all season in the shootout. He was the one and only Admiral to fail to convert on Justin Pogge. With a pair of assists, Dana Tyrell had his 5th multi-point game in his last 11 games, and he's on a 3-game point streak. Vladimir Mihalik notched his 6th point in his last 12 games and has matched his season total for point from a year ago and is 1 point shy of his career best AHL season. Paul Szczechura is about to be recalled to Tampa Bay and did not play tonight.
The win moves the Admirals to within 1 point of Albany for 2nd place in the East Division with the Rats holding 1 game in hand. The Admirals will give the Rats a rematch tomorrow night at The Scope, and a regulation win could move Norfolk into 2nd place all by themselves in the division. Fourth place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is losing 4-1 to Syracuse in the third period. If that holds up, Norfolk will move 7 points up on the Penguins with the Pens holding 3 games in hand. 5th place Adirondack lost to Rochester 5-2 and, if the Crunch's score holds up, they'll be tied with Syracuse at 12 points behind the Admirals with each team holding 3 games in hand on Norfolk. Bolt Prospects has declared the Binghamton Senators deceased.
In the crossover, Bridgeport beat Portland 5-4, Providence fell to Manchester 2-1, and the Hartford Wolf Pack were idle. So, the Admirals remain 5 points up on the 5th place team in the Atlantic (Bridgeport), move 7 points up on the 6th place team (Providence) with the Bruins holding 2 games in hand, and the Admirals move 11 points up on 7th place Hartford with the Pack holding 3 games in hand. If the Admirals were to fall to 4th in the East Division, they would have to finish ahead of the 5th place team in the Atlantic to make the postseason.
It's an epic clash tomorrow between the Admirals and the Rats with 2nd place in the division potentially up for grabs.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
(Norfolk Admirals release) The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Admirals, have reassigned goaltender Jaroslav Janus to the Admirals and have recalled forward Mark Parrish from the Admirals, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today.
(Update: TSN's Bob McKenzie reports Admirals winger Brandon Bochenski is now on re-entry waivers.)
In addition, the Admirals have released goaltender Matt Lundin from his Professional Tryout Contract (PTO).
Don Simek is so money in shootouts it's painful.
BNG- 2 (SO)
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 37 shots and stopped 3 of 4 shooters to secure the shootout victory.
BNG Smith, (11) , 2:05 (SH)
NOR Bochenski, (21) (Simek, Tarkir), 7:53
BNG O'Brien, (5) , 16:05
NOR Jones, (7) (Simek, Lawrence), 2:05
NOR- Szczechura, Simek, Jones
Tokarski and Brandon Bochenski were the game's first and third stars.
Juraj Simek, the Don of the Presov Mafia, remained perfect in shootout attempts this season to go along with his pair of regulation helpers. His enforcer, Vladimir Mihalik, was +2 in the game. That pushes Mihalik's +/- for the month of February to +11 with one more game left this month. He's been +2 or better in 5 of 10 games in that span. Mihalik's career best season was a +9 set in his rookie season, and he is now at +8 so far this year.
Blair Jones scored his first goal since being reassigned from Tampa Bay and scored the clinching goal in the shootout session to send the paying faithful in Binghamton to their automobiles.
Mark Parrish missed tonight's game after getting nicked in the game against Adirondack. He is questionable for tomorrow, as is whether Interim Head Coach Leigh Mendelson will ride Tokarski for a third straight game, insert PTO Matt Lundin, or if the Lightning will FedEx Jaroslav Janus to Syracuse in time for the key 4-point matchup.
It was a critical win for Norfolk because almost all of their competition in the East Division playoff race won tonight. 2nd place Albany beat Manchester 5-2 to stay 2 points up on Norfolk with 1 game in hand. 4th place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton dismantled Providence 5-1 to stay 6 points back of Norfolk with 3 games in hand. 5th place Adirondack pulled out a 3-2 shootout win against Lowell to stay 8 points back of Norfolk with 2 games in hand. 6th place Syracuse was the only team that didn't keep pace. They fell 2-1 to Springfield and are now 10 points back of the Admirals with 3 games in hand. If Norfolk can beat the Crunch tomorrow afternoon, it may be the straw that breaks their back. Binghamton is done. They're 18 points back with 5 games in hand, but they're also 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. Which team needs a fork stuck in them? Bingo is their name-o.
In the crossover, Hershey beat 5th place Atlantic Division team Bridgeport like the Sound Tigers had stolen a large sum of money from Chocolate Town. The 9-2 spanking drops Bridgeport 5 points back of Norfolk. 6th place Providence falls 7 points back of Norfolk with 2 games in hand. They are now tied in points with Hartford, which lost 2-1 to Portland in overtime. Hartford has 1 game in hand on the Admirals. So, the Admirals did gain ground in the crossover. If Norfolk were to drop to 4th in the East Division, they must finish ahead of the 5th place team in the Atlantic to make the postseason.
Box score from TheAHL.com.