Remember when I said maybe this wasn't the week the Admirals would make their move after all when Darche and Jancevski were called up? Shows how much I know. My only real regret: not being able to see the look on Springfield Republican writer Fran Sypek's face as the Lightning's "suspects" dismantled the Falcons.
Jonathan Boutin stopped 24 of 26 shots faced tonight to run his record to 6-2-2 this season. When you get at least a point in 80% of your starts, that's pretty darn good in my book.
NOR Klinkhammer, (2) (Stewart, Jones), 1:55
SPR McDonald, (4) (Thoresen, Reddox), 4:42
SPR Schremp, (4) (Kemp, Reddox), 1:01 (PP)
NOR Milley, (4) (Schneider, Fletcher), 7:58
NOR Milley, (5) (MacDonald, Wanvig), 9:50
NOR Keller, (2) (Mihalik, Jones), 18:41 (PP)
NOR MacDonald, (3) (Wanvig, Milley), 3:07
NOR Leach, (3) (Stewart, Jones), 14:10
Norm Milley, Craig MacDonald, and Kyle Wanvig were the three stars of the game.
But it's not just the veterans who were chipping in this week. Blair Jones is now riding a three game point streak posting 2 goals and 7 points over that span. Justin Keller is also riding a three game point streak with 1 goal and 4 points over that span. Further adding support offensively: Vladimir Mihalik with 3 assists in the last two games and Rob Klinkhammer with 1 goal and 4 points over the same span.
Norfolk now improves their record to 8-10-2 on the season and sets itself up well for a critical road trip through the division. With 18 points the Admirals are now in a three way tie with Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 4th and final playoff spot in the division, 2 points back of 3rd place Binghamton and 3 points back of 2nd place Albany. Norfolk draws Albany on Wednesday and Friday nights before facing Bighamton next Saturday and Hershey next Sunday. 4 road games in 5 nights. The math isn't complicated, and the stakes are high. The good news is word on the street is Karri Ramo might be ready by next weekend to spell Boutin, who has almost exclusively carried the load for Norfolk over the past couple of weeks.
If the Ads play their cards right, they could be sitting at .500 or better by the end of next weekend and occupying a potential playoff spot. Not bad for a team that was close to being given up for dead just two weeks ago.
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
The annual event that posts four programs from "Big 10" schools with Minnesota and Wisconsin of the WCHA and Michigan and Michigan State of the CCHA takes place this weekend for bragging rights.
#12 Wisconsin 2 @ #2 Michigan 3
Lightning prospect and Michigan freshman defensemen Kevin Quick was scratched for the game. The Wolverines have been using a rotating defensive lineup so Quick should be in today's game against Minnesota.
#13 Minnesota 3 @ #5 Michigan State 3 ot
No Lightning prospects in this game but always a good contest between two top programs.
Michigan (12-1-0) host Minnesota (7-5-1) today in Ann Arbor and try to avenge their only loss this season. The Gophers won the Icebreaker championship on October 13 with a 4-3 win over the Wolverines.
In the other matchup, Michigan State (8-3-1) hosts Wisconsin (5-6-0) in East Lansing, Mich. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season.
Maybe this is the weekend the Admirals make their move after all?
Jonathan Boutin stopped 30 of 32 shots faced in the win. The young netminder has now run his record to 5-2-2 on the season with a 2.57 GAA and .925 save percentage.
NOR Stewart, (3) (Keller, Jones), 5:12
NOR Campbell, (2) (Klinkhammer, Lawrence), 5:42
NOR Klinkhammer, (1) (Leach, Mihalik), 11:30
NOR Lawrence, (3) (Klinkhammer, Mihalik), 11:46
SPR Thoresen, (12) (Schremp, Syvret), 19:41
SPR Sestito, (2) (Schremp, Syvret), 7:43
Rob Klinkhammer, Boutin, and Chris Lawrence were the game's three stars.
Norfolk improves its record to 7-10-2 on the season with one more game to go against Springfield this weekend.
Norfolk is now tied with Wilkes/Barre Scranton with 16 points, 2 back of Hershey for the final playoff spot in the division and 3 back of Albany and Binghamton. Once they play Springfield tomorrow night they get back into division play on the road with two games against Albany and then matchups with Binghamton and Hershey, so a winning streak now can flip their fortunes in the division quickly.
Can't look ahead though. Springfield's going to come out flying Saturday night.
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Johan Holmqvist stopped only 18 of 22 shots faced in the loss as the Lightning choked away a 3-1 lead at the second intermission to squander an opportunity to get within 3 points in the race for the division.