AHL Game Night 10/19: Senators at Admirals
That was an awesome home opener. That was a great indoctrination into what the Norfolk fan base is all about.
Ryan Munce had a relatively light night stopping 17 of 18 for the win. That did include stopping a breakaway and a handful of other dangerous chances, but for the most part Norfolk's defense kept Binghamton from getting any puck possession and when they did they were kept out to the perimeter.
NOR Mihalik, (1) (Kvapil, Wanvig), 4:49
NOR Milley, (1) (Klinkhammer, Taylor), 3:25
NOR Stewart, (1) (Collymore), 11:13 (SH)
BNG Bass, (1) (Mauldin, Yablonski), 12:30
NOR Wanvig, (3) (Jancevski, Jones), 5:02 (PP)
NOR Taylor, (1) (Leach, Wanvig), 6:52
Norfolk outshot Binghamton 31-18 in the game, and the territorial time felt it was tilted even more in the favor of the Admirals.
Congratulations to Vladimir Mihalik on his first professional goal. Mostly good, some bad out of the big defenseman tonight. This might've been the first game of the season where no one beat him around the corner on the rush. He looked smooth and poised tonight for the most part, and pounced on a long rebound to get his goal. Bad side: he made a couple of gaffes with the puck and he really doesn't like to finish his checks the way he should. He'd rather push a little with his arms rather than put a shoulder into a guy and really cancel him out. The other negative I saw was in the third period when Senators forward Jeremy Yablonski made an extremely dangerous play boarding David Schneider. I am amazed Schneider stayed in the game because the way he looked dazed laying against the boards I would've sworn he had a concussion. Mihalik was standing right there next to Yablonski and did nothing for what seemed like a full minute until the refs kicked Yablonksi out of the game. It's a 5-1 game and one of your smaller skilled players just had major liberties taken with him: I think you've got to go after the guy and drop the gloves immediately. Vlad didn't. Maybe someone said something to him about it on the bench or something clicked in his head because the next shift Denis Hamel took a slash at him and Vladimir just ragdolled him. Threw a couple of bombs and then just yanked the guy straight down onto the ice like he was a child.
The first line was outstanding tonight. They were great on the forecheck and work amazingly well as a unit for a group that hasn't been together long. Norfolk's first goal came on a rush where Marek Kvapil got the puck heading into the Binghamton zone and started dancing a little moving down the slot until he finally peeled off a backhander which eventually squirted to Mihalik for the goal. The other members of that line were equally impressive. Wanvig is the proverbial immovable object down low on the forecheck. He's tenacious and he's good at getting body position. And Blair Jones is just fearless and never stops working. He takes the body and gives his own up with reckless abandon. He almost killed himself trying to finish off a play in the second period ending up down at the end boards only to come back and fight even harder the next shift. I'll say this too: he looks faster this year. I don't know if it's just because he's more decisive or if he's really worked on that area of the game, but he looks a lot quicker to me this season.
The second line isn't as cohesive as a unit yet, but they made some great individual plays tonight. Norm Milley's goal came on an odd man rush where he had to reach behind him both with his skate and then with his stick to make a great pick on Klinkhammer's pass before getting the puck settled down and finding a way to beat Brian Elliot. Elliot, by the way, was not so hot tonight. A couple of Norfolk's goals went through him and another came on a juicy rebound. Stewart was one of the recipients of a goal that went through Elliot as he used his speed to steam in on a partial breakaway shorthanded and he found a way to tuck it through Elliot for the goal, and gave a Vinny Prospal-like celebration for his efforts. Justin Keller was quiet tonight. He only had one shot on goal. He's stronger on the puck this year but he still looks like he's stood up on a couple of pipe cleaners. He would do well to get on Kvapil's program because Marek looks much stouter now than he did as a rookie two years ago.
Out of the rest of the forwards, I really liked Klinkhammer's game tonight. He was very active in the first couple of periods and looks like he knows what to do on the rush plus he's got good size when getting in on the faceoff. Taylor looks huge. Chris Gratton huge. Between Taylor and Lawrence Coach Stirling's third line looks more like the starting linebackers in a 3-4 defense in football. Lawrence had a very quiet game but Taylor came on strong in the third period.
On defense, in general, the team was just very efficient at moving the puck out of their zone tonight. They're a little passive as a group, but they usually won the races to loose pucks tonight and were with only a few exceptions smart about moving it out of danger. It will be difficult for Andy Rogers to ever crack this lineup if they keep playing the way they did tonight.
Three stars of the game were: 1.) Wanvig (1-2-3), 2.) Taylor (1-1-2), 3.) Mihalik (1-0-1).
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.