AHL Playoff Game Night: 4/15/11 Admirals at Penguins
Norfolk stuns Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Now they have a tiger by the tail.
Norfolk Leads the Series 1-0
Dustin Tokarski allowed just 1 goal on 33 shots for the victory in his first professional playoff game. For Norfolk, if they get goaltending, they're capable of beating anyone, and they got goaltending from Tic tonight.
NOR Ritola, (1) (Milam), 5:23
NOR Pouliot, (1) (Ritola), 18:27
WBS Veilleux, (1) (Walker, Potter), 17:13
Tokarski, Mattias Ritola, and Marc-Antoine Pouliot were the game's three stars. The like of Ritola/Pouliot/Jones is as good as any in the AHL right now, and there isn't a hotter player in the league than Mattias Ritola. Mind you, the rest of the Admirals forwards haven't been as stellar over the past month, but that line gives the Admirals enough firepower to win games with competent defense and goaltending. The Penguins learned that tonight.
So, Norfolk has accomplished what they set out to accomplish in the first two games of the series, which was to steal home ice before heading back to Norfolk in the 2-3-2 format. However, the challenge becomes very different in Game Two. The Admirals now need to recognize they've got a tiger by the tail. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is now going to be desperate to win Game Two, because a loss may be a death sentence for the Penguins. So, Norfolk is going to face a higher level of intensity than they've seen all year, particularly in the first 20 minutes of Game Two. If they're not careful, they'll be blown out and momentum will reside on the Penguins' bus headed down to Virginia. However, if they handle the surge from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton early and can keep the game within a goal heading into the final frame, the Ritola line and special teams can deliver the big time upset. Make no mistake, WBS should be favored heavily in Game Two, but Norfolk has enough, on paper, to pull the stunner off again. At the very least, if Norfolk is competitive in Game Two, momentum will still be on the Admirals' side going into Game Three, Four, and Five, having already accomplished what they needed to in Pennsylvania.
Box score from TheAHL.com.