Coach Cooper sets the Admirals record with the team's 9th straight win.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 28 of 30 for his 25th win of the season. He moves one ahead of Ben Bishop, who was traded to the Senators organization today, into the top spot in the AHL in wins, and he has to be the odds on favorite to lead the AHL at season's end after the trade. Even if the Sens leave Bishop in Bingo, Binghamton is dead last in the East Division, so he won't have a very good team in front of him. Tokarski has a 4 win advantage on the next closest goaltenders beyond Bishop. So, it's really his to lose. He's now 7-1-0 in February with 2 shutouts, a 2.00 GAA, and a .926 save percentage, so he certainly should be in line for some award consideration come March 1st, too.
WBS Street, (18) (Grant, Mormina), 12:27 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (9) (Johnson, Segal), 17:02 (PP)
NOR Cote, (1) (Johnson), 4:44
WBS Picard, (4) (Craig, Gibbons), 9:50
NOR Ashton, (19) (Dimmen, Conacher), 17:56 (PP)
Carter Ashton and Jean-Philippe Cote were the game's first and third stars. Alexandre Picard was the game's second star, but it was their Alexandre Picard, the former Lightning defenseman, and not the current Lightning farmhand. Ashton snapped a 9-game goalless streak with the tally, and he's now 1 shy of the 20-goal plateau in his rookie campaign.
With 2 assists today, Tyler Johnson continued his hot February. He's got 3 goals and 11 points in his last 8 games, and he's actually 3 points ahead of Ashton for second among Norfolk rookies behind the uncatchable Cory Conacher.
Glad to see Richard Panik not miss any time after the dirtiness in Hershey yesterday. As I said, that will get cleaned up on Wednesday, I'm sure.
Let me be the first to pronounce Bolt Prospects as the official campaign headquarters for Jon Cooper's (pictured with the Godfather of Lightning hockey) bid for AHL Coach of the Year. 9 straight wins snaps the previous franchise record for the Admirals, and when you consider there's 4 Admirals regulars with Tampa Bay right now due to injuries and trades, you realize how amazing a coaching job he's been doing. The other thing you really have to commend is how he's blended so many rookies into the winning formula. Jeff Dimmen, Ondrej Palat, Panik, Ashton, Johnson, and Conacher: that's 6 rookies he's coached up and worked into the rotation of a team that now is tied for tops in the entire AHL in points. And they're not the only rookies who have contributed. Philip-Michael Devos has also been a regular in this lineup, as well. It's been a remarkable job so far, and Julien BriseBois and Steve Yzerman have every right to break their arms slapping each other on the back for that hire. He's been damned good.
Norfolk now holds a 4 point lead on the Penguins for 1st place in the East Division and an 8 point lead on 3rd place Hershey, with the Bears holding a game in hand. They've also moved into 1st in the Eastern Conference by 2 points over St. John's, although the Ice Caps have a formidable 4 games in hand. For the moment, though, the Admirals are tied for tops in the AHL in points, and are tops in wins, goals, and goal differential (+47!).
Wednesday, they'll have the opportunity to put Hershey firmly behind the 8-ball with a 4-point game at Scope that could allow the Admirals to bury their arch-rivals in a 10-point hole that will be very difficult for Hershey to climb out of. The rest of the week holds a 2-game set on Friday and Saturday against a very mediocre Springfield Falcons team. So, Norfolk's got a big-time opportunity to keep the momentum rolling and really extend their lead in the East Division and start to set their sites higher on being the best team in the Eastern Conference and even the entire AHL. It's really, really exciting times.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Admirals tie a winning streak record from the heady days of Head Coach Jim Johnson. 8 straight wins for Norfolk, even as the Lightning call up several of their players.
Jaroslav Janus stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced for the victory. From the, "no way that can be right," file: Janus (pictured) is 3-0-1 against Hershey this season. Bear in mind Hershey is the second highest scoring team in the AHL behind just Norfolk. And, yet, they tremble before the might and power of Jaroslav Janus between the pipes.
NOR Barberio, (8) (Dimmen, Conacher), 2:21
NOR Ouellet, (11) (Picard, Kostka), 15:58 (PP)
HER Pope, (5) (Mink, Carman), 17:07
HER Bourque, (25) (Eakin, Mink), 0:16 (PP)
NOR Segal, (15) (Ouellet, Picard), 1:29
HER Greentree, (4) (Potulny, Bourque), 13:19 (PP)
NOR Segal, (16) (Barberio, Panik), 16:35 (PP)
After assisting on Segal's game winning goal, prospect Richard Panik took a rather nasty slash to the leg by Kyle Greentree that sent him to the dressing room. Panik attacked, y'all? Expect that issue to be cleaned up Wednesday when the Ads play the Bears for the last time this season.
Defenseman Evan Oberg was a healthy scratch and may be on his way to join the Lightning after Victor Hedman's injury earlier this afternoon. One thing we know, this is a man who will not pull a Nikita Alexeev and miss his flight, if that's the case.
Tonight went as well as possible for the Admirals, as they not only opened up a 6 point lead on the Bears, but with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins losing to Syracuse tonight, they also have moved 2 points ahead of the Penguins to claim uncontested hold of the top spot in the division. They've also tied St. John's for the most points in the Eastern Conference, although the Ice Caps hold 3 games in hand on the Admirals.
Norfolk draws the Pens at the Mohegan Sun Slot Machine Gamble-plex tomorrow, with the opportunity to open up a 4 point lead on the Pens and an 8 point lead on the idle Bears. With a name like the Mohegan Sun Slot Machine Gamble-plex, you know the Admirals will be looking for the pay window.
Box score at TheAHL.com.
Admirals come back to take first place in the East Division.
NOR 3 (SO)
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 21 shots before stopping 7 of 9 in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.
SYR Gordon (1), (Holzapfel, Cumiskey)(PP), 11:36
SYR Gordon (2), (Holzapfel), 0:19
NOR Barberio (7), (Johnson), 7:16
NOR Panik (12), (Palat, Barberio)(PP), 9:02
SYR- Jacques, Holland
NOR- Kostka, Johnson, Ouellet
With under 14 minutes to go, it looked like the Admirals were going to get tripped up again in the back-to-back scenario against the same opponent. It's a challenge NCAA coaches have been fighting against forever, and it's a unique challenge to Norfolk because of the team's geographical location relative to the rest of the league. But then the Admirals came back and did their thing, finally outshooting Syracuse 43-21 and making sure they got the 2 points they needed for the sellout crowd at Scope.
With the Penguins losing to Albany, the Admirals moved out to a 2 point lead in the East Division with the win, and they maintain a 3 point edge on Hershey, as the Bears defeated the Monarchs today. The Penguins do hold 1 game in hand on the Admirals and the Bears hold 2 games in hand. But, for the moment, the Admirals are where they need to be to have the best chance of success heading toward the postseason. Norfolk is off until next Friday, when they start their weekend road swing against Binghamton. They then have critical matchups against Hershey on Saturday and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Laying the smacketh down.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 25 shots but got a wee bit more goal support than last night to carry him to his 21st win of the year. That matches Tic's win total from all of last season and he now will zero in on his career mark of 27 wins set in his rookie campaign as his next milestone to beat.
NOR Panik, (11) (Palat, Johnson), 2:48
NOR Kostka, (7) (Barberio, Palat), 4:36 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (26) (Barberio, Panik), 5:07 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (27) (Smith, Johnson), 8:20 (PP)
ADK Brown, (6) (Klotz, Kessel), 4:23
NOR Angelidis, (11) (Picard, Cote), 3:31
ADK Kalinski, (9) (Manning, Akeson), 4:02
NOR Smith, (19) (Labrie, Ashton), 13:23
ADK Manning, (3) (Kessel, Holmstrom), 14:38 (PP)
NOR Johnson, (16) (Fornataro, Devos), 17:36
Phantoms d-man Cullen Eddy messed with the bull and got the horns, earning a game misconduct for elbowing rookie phenom Conacher. The Ads proceeded to score 3 power play goals on the subsequent 5 minute major, including 2 by Conacher himself.
Conacher did not manage a hat trick, but, by virtue of an assist added on Conacher's first goal, Richard Panik posted a first period Gordie Howe hat trick for the opening goal, a power play assist, and then a fight with ex-Admiral Dan Jancevski. When Panik attacks, Adirondack trembles.
Barberio crossed the 40 point threshold with his 2 power play helpers tonight. He's now at 41 points in 48 games, pushing him 2 points ahead of Brian Connelly of Abbotsford for the lead amongst d-men. For his part, Mike Kostka has quietly pushed up into a tie for 11th amongst d-men in scoring with 27 points in 45 games.
Norfolk picks up 1 point on Hershey, which fell in a shootout tonight, and keeps pace with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. So, the Ads are 1 point back of the Bears and 4 points back of the Pens in the division. Both the Bears and Pens hold a game in hand on Norfolk. Norfolk heads to Charlotte tomorrow to face the Midwest Division (don't ask) leading Checkers.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss.
HER Potulny, (14) (Bourque, Aucoin), 3:56 (PP)
NOR Johnson, (15) (Panik, Conacher), 8:46 (PP)
HER Potulny, (15) (Bourque, Aucoin), 18:44 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (25) (Johnson, Dimmen), 18:59
HER Hanson, (9) (Ford), 1:14
Norfolk outshot Hershey 40-22, but as has been the case seemingly about a half dozen times over the years, just when the Ads look ready to make their move and establish themselves as the better team, Holtby or one of the other Caps prospect goaltenders stands on their heads. Holding that team, as explosive as it is, to 22 shots is unheard of. To play that well and still lose hurts badly.
And the Panik attack continues. In the last 16 games, Richard Panik has 6 goals and 13 points and he's now riding a 5 game point streak. It's not quite as impressive as Carter Ashton's ridiculous 11 goals and 17 points in the first 16 games this year, but it's in the ballpark (upper deck, perhaps, but in the ballpark).
Monday night is the AHL All-Star Game and the Admirals will return to action next Friday against Adirondack. Fortunately, the Penguins got spanked by Binghamton, so they pull into the break just 3 points back in the division despite the loss to the Bears.
Box score from TheAHL.com.