With Manchester defeating St. John's earlier today 4-2 and Syracuse just completing a 2-1 victory over Albany, the Portland Pirates have been eliminated and Norfolk's first round opponent is now set. The Admirals will face the Manchester Monarchs in the opening, Quarterfinal, best-of-five series. With the AHL adopting an unbalanced 76 game schedule this season, Norfolk did not play Manchester at all this season, so their playoff matches will be the first games between the clubs this year. The Monarchs are the farm team of the Los Angeles Kings, who currently have several AHL eligible players up with the big club for their NHL Quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks, which they currently lead 2-0.
Norfolk is currently in action against the Adirondack Phantoms in their final regular season game of the year.
Game One will be on Friday, 4/20/12 and Game Two will be on Saturday, 4/21/12. Additionally, due to a scheduling conflict, Game Five will be in Manchester rather than Norfolk, according to the press release issued by the Norfolk Admirals, essentially meaning that the Monarchs will have the home ice advantage for the series even though the Admirals will finish at least 28 points ahead of Manchester in the standings.
I'm not the Bolt Prospects Twitter-master, but I think that would be filed under #aintthatsomebull.
It took a bit longer than usual, but it's David Shaw in overtime! #27!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 24 shots including a ten bell save in overtime to get his 13th straight victory. He now is unlikely to best his .915 (currently .913) rookie save percentage, but he's improved his career marks in every other major statistical category this year, and his 32 wins are a lock now to be the best in the AHL.
NOR Conacher, (36) (Killorn), 19:24
BNG Hoffman, (21) (Gryba, Dziurzynski), 15:17 (PP)
BNG Puempel, (1) (Conboy), 17:13
NOR Killorn, (2) (Oberg, Kostka), 13:21 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (14) (Kostka), 2:04 (PP)
It's been interesting with all the hardware being thrown in Norfolk's direction to players like Cory Conacher and Mark Barberio how there's been a little unstated internal pressure here at Bolt Prospects to reassess the situation at the top of our prospect rankings. Now, there's no doubt that Conacher and Barberio are fantastic players, but a night like tonight shows what Alex Killorn brings to the table. As expected, he's getting more comfortable with his teammates, and he was the best Admiral on the ice tonight. He made a great play to set up Conacher on the Admirals' first goal (no-look, behind-the-back, Harlem Globetrotters type stuff), and with Conacher sitting for what appeared to be disciplinary reasons from late in the second period on, Killorn played a ton during Norfolk's successful comeback bid. His power play goal was another Killorn classic, where he used his speed down the wing to blaze around the corner and then deked to his backhand to finally penetrate the forcefield that McKenna seemed to have up behind him. Point being, Killorn belongs in the same sentence with those players. When you consider this is just his 9th pro game, the fact he can already dominate a night like this is impressive. With the playoffs yet to go, look for him to put up a strong defense of his spot on the rankings. I'm really looking forward to it.
Should we be concerned it took the Admirals putting forth this much effort to put away the league's worst team, Bingo? No. This was the Senators' last game of the season, and they had nothing else to play for. This was Game Seven of the Stanley Cup and the Super Bowl all wrapped into one for them, and the Ads still outshot them 49-24. Only McKenna's brilliance kept this from being a slaughter.
Norfolk finishes their regular season tomorrow night against Adirondack, which was eliminated from playoff contention earlier today. That leaves 3 teams vying for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference: Portland, Syracuse, and Manchester. The plot thickens for all three teams after today's results. Manchester beat the paste out of Hershey 5-1, moving them into a tie with idle Portland at 81 points. Syracuse was embroiled in a struggle with Connecticut, but they managed to sneak by in the shootout. So here's the state of play heading into tomorrow's deciding games. Syracuse holds 7th at 82 points. They control their destiny. Manchester holds 8th because while both Manchester and Portland have 81 points, Manchester leads in ROW by 2 over both Syracuse and Portland. That means the Monarchs win any tiebreaker against both teams. Portland sits in 9th. Manchester draws the toughest opponent tomorrow in 2nd place St. John's. Portland gets 12th place Providence. Syracuse gets 14th place Albany. Throw the records out in a situation like this though. Norfolk draws the 8th seed when the dust settles tomorrow.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jaroslav Janus stopped 20 of 21 shots for his 14th straight victory. He now has a .914 save percentage and is tied for 8th in the league in wins.
NOR Smith, (25) (Segal), 2:55
NOR Ouellet, (16) (Aulie), 7:17
NOR Oberg, (7) (Palat, Johnson), 17:29
NOR Segal, (17) (Picard, Kostka), 5:17
NOR Devos, (7) (Aulie, Ouellet), 7:07
ALB Zharkov, (16) (Gelinas, Perkovich), 14:13 (PP)
Good to see Keith Aulie get off to a strong start for the Admirals. These 20-30 games coming up to end the regular season and the playoffs are so crucial for his development to get him ready to potentially take an NHL spot in the Fall. It might very well be the most critical 20-30 games of his career, thus far.
After a brief stint in the NHL, Brandon Segal is Out for a Kill!
26 straight wins and the Admirals keep rolling. I mentioned last weekend how impressed I was that the team has been winning these close games late in the last dozen or so games of the streak, and it is impressive. But, there's no substitute for running out to a 3-0 lead and crushing a team early like they did tonight and like they were doing a lot in the first half of the streak. They have 2 games left in the regular season and take their unprecedented streak of excellence into Binghamton tomorrow night.
For those scoreboard watching and wondering who Norfolk's first round opponent will be, both Manchester and Portland got big wins tonight, but Syracuse is getting hammered by Rochester 5-1 late in the third. If the Syracuse score holds up, then Portland will jump into 7th place at 81 points with 1 game left on their schedule, Syracuse will drop to 8th place at 80 points with 2 games left, and Manchester will be at 79 points in 9th place with 2 games left. Adirondack still has a mathematical chance, as they can still get to 80 points if they win their last 2 games, but it really looks like Portland, Syracuse, and Rochester fighting for 2 spots, and the potential of an ironic and interesting Norfolk/Syracuse first round matchup looms large.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
(Norfolk Admirals press release) The American Hockey League announced today that forward Cory Conacher of the Norfolk Admirals has been named the winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHLâ€™s outstanding rookie for the 2011-12 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the leagueâ€™s 30 member cities.
Conacher signed with Norfolk following four seasons at Canisius College and an impressive training camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has been one of the top scorers in the league since opening the year with 12 points in nine games during October. Conacher, who only once has gone more than two games without a point this season, leads all AHL rookies with 75 points and ranks second in goals (35) and assists (40) while showing a plus-13 rating in 72 games for the Admirals. He is also first among rookies in power-play goals (14) and game-winning goals (seven). A 22-year-old native of Burlington, Ont., Conacher represented Norfolk at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic and tied game highs with two goals and three points in the contest. Named an All-Rookie Team member and a Second Team AHL All-Star at left wing last week, Conacher signed a two-year deal with the Lightning on Mar. 1.
This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions.
We wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospectâ€™s achievement on the ice.
This weekâ€™s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to â€¦ Mark Barberio, D, Norfolk Admirals (AHL).
(Norfolk Admirals press release) The American Hockey League announced today that Mark Barberio of the Norfolk Admirals has been named the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHLâ€™s outstanding defenseman for the 2011-12 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and members of the media in each of the leagueâ€™s 30 cities.
Barberio leads all AHL defensemen in assists (47) and points (60) and is tied for second among blueliners with a plus-25 rating in 71 games this season, helping Norfolk to the AHLâ€™s top-ranked offense, third-ranked defense and best overall record. Barberio, who has set a single-season franchise record for scoring by a defenseman, is also first among AHL rearguards in power-play scoring, notching 30 assists and 37 points as Norfolk ranks second in efficiency with the man advantage (21.9 percent). Voted to the Eastern Conference starting lineup for the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic back in January and named a First Team AHL All-Star last week, the 22-year-old native of Montreal is the youngest winner of the Eddie Shore Award since 1981 (Craig Levie).
Barberio, a sixth-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2008, established franchise records for a rookie defenseman when he totaled nine goals, 22 assists and 31 points in 68 games in 2010-11.
Barberio is the first Admiral to win the Eddie Shore Award.
(Norfolk Admirals press release) The American Hockey League announced today that Jon Cooper of the Norfolk Admirals has been named the winner of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHLâ€™s outstanding coach for the 2011-12 season, as voted by coaches and members of the media in each of the leagueâ€™s 30 cities.
In his second season in the professional ranks, Cooper has kept his Admirals at the top of the league for much of the year, finally pulling away from the rest of the pack on the strength of a record 25-game winning streak that remains intact heading into the final week of the season. At 52-18-1-2 (107 points), the Admirals have won their first division title since 2003 and have captured the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the overall points champion for the first time ever. Norfolk, whose top five scorers this season include three rookies and one second-year pro, leads the AHL in offense (3.58 goals per game) and ranks third in defense (2.40 goals against per game), and under Cooperâ€™s development watch nine Admirals were called up to play a total of 142 games with the parent Tampa Bay Lightning in the National Hockey League this season.
A 44-year-old native of Prince George, B.C., Cooper joined the Tampa Bay Lightning organization in August 2010 as head coach of their top development affiliate in Norfolk following a prolific career in the U.S. junior ranks. He won a USHL championship and was that leagueâ€™s coach of the year with Green Bay in 2010, and was twice coach of the year in the NAHL with St. Louis, winning back-to-back titles there in 2007 and 2008. Cooper has also spent time behind the bench internationally for Team USAâ€™s U-17 and U-18 teams. A dual citizen of the United States and Canada, Cooper played hockey and lacrosse at Hofstra University and later obtained a law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
Cooper becomes the second Admirals head coach to win the Louis A.R. Pieri Award. Mike Haviland also won the award during the 2006-07 season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned defenseman Keith Aulie to the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Aulie, 6-foot-6, 217 pounds, appeared in 36 NHL games this season between the Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs, recording three assists and 29 penalty minutes. Aulie played in 17 games with the Maple Leafs, collecting two assists and 16 penalty minutes before being acquired by the Lightning on February 27 in exchange for Carter Ashton. Aulie then appeared in 19 games with Tampa Bay, posting one assist and 13 penalty minutes. In 76 career NHL games, Aulie has scored two goals and five points with 61 penalty minutes.
Aulie also skated in 23 games with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL this season, recording one assist and 30 penalty minutes. The 22-year-old native of Regina, Saskatchewan, has skated in 107 career AHL games with the Marlies and Abbotsford Heat, posting five goals and 16 points. He represented the Marlies at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic in Hershey, PA last season.
Aulie was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round, 116th overall, of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by Toronto along with Fredrik Sjostrom and Dion Phaneuf from Calgary in exchange for Jamal Mayers, Niklas Hagman, Matthew Stajan and Ian White on January 31, 2010. (News Observer photo)
No one finished in close on the power play like Dave Andreychuk, and no one finishes games stronger than the Norfolk Admirals.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. He held the game close and gave the team in front of him plenty of time to blow the game open, finally, late in the third period.
BNG Schira, (4) (Hamilton), 13:12
NOR Labrie, (14) (Picard), 18:27
NOR Smith, (24) (Oberg, Segal), 17:11
NOR Johnson, (31) (Killorn, Conacher), 17:53
NOR Conacher, (35) (Killorn, Cote), 19:47 (EN)
Tokarski and Trevor Smith were the game's first and second stars.
I've never in my life seen a team that is this good late in hockey games. True, they won their fair share of games during the first half of this 25 game winning streak by blowing teams out quickly in the first period, staking themselves to 3 goal leads early. But, that hasn't happened lately. Teams go against the Admirals very prepared and very resolute to try to break the streak from the opening drop of the puck (hence the line brawl in the First Period of tonight's game). So, there's been a lot of games in the second half of the streak that get into the Third Period either tied or one goal games.
Something amazing seems to happen, though, when this team gets down into the final 10 minutes of a hockey game. I don't know if its their young legs. I don't know if it's their team speed. I don't know if it's their unflagging confidence. Whatever it is, this club buries teams late. They don't just get a one goal lead and try to sit on it. They don't just hit and run, they knock you over and then step on your throat.
The Ads will finish their regular season on the road with three games next weekend: Albany Friday, Binghamton Saturday, and Adirondack Sunday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
(Norfolk Admirals press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, have assigned forward Brandon Segal to the Admirals, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Segal, 28, has played in 10 games with the Lightning this season, recording four penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 209-pound forward was acquired by Tampa Bay on February 21 from the Chicago Blackhawks. The Richmond, British Columbia native has played in three games with Norfolk this season, tallying three goals and four points. In 56 AHL games between the Admirals and Rockford IceHogs this season, Segal has compiled 16 goals and 29 assists to go along with 63 penalty minutes.
He appeared in 94 games with the Admirals between the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, posting 36 goals and 71 points with 120 penalty minutes. Segal posted AHL career highs with 26 goals, 26 assists and 52 points with the Admirals in 2008-09. That season, he ranked second in goals, fourth in points and tied for third in assists with Norfolk.
Segal has skated in 511 career AHL games with the Milwaukee Admirals, Portland Pirates, Norfolk Admirals, Manchester Monarchs, Texas Stars and Rockford IceHogs, collecting 123 goals and 237 points. He also has five goals and eight points in 41 career Calder Cup Playoff games. Segal won the Calder Cup in 2004 with the Milwaukee Admirals.
He has played in 102 career NHL games with the Lightning, Dallas and Los Angeles, collecting 11 goals and 22 points. He was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the fourth round, 102nd overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Segal signed a one-year contract with Chicago on September 1, 2011.