Tokarski, Dustin

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-17-12 IceCaps at Admirals Game One

Norfolk passes the midpoint on their way up the mountain, but there's still a lot of climbing left to do.

STJ-1
NOR-6

Norfolk Leads the Series 1-0

Dustin Tokarski stopped 29 of 30 for the win as Jon Cooper again flexes his superior coaching instincts.

First Period
NOR Kostka, (2) (Oberg, Smith), 18:55 (PP)

Second Period
NOR Ouellet, (1) (Johnson, Barberio), 3:08 (PP)
NOR Kostka, (3) (Devos, Angelidis), 11:04
NOR Cote, (1) (Smith, Labrie), 13:42

Third Period
NOR Palat, (4) (Johnson, Conacher), 1:28
STJ Redmond, (1) (Trotter, Postma), 2:11 (PP)
NOR Aulie, (1) (Palat, Conacher), 7:21

Mike Kostka, Cory Conacher, and Tokarski were the game's three stars. Ondrej Palat, Trevor Smith, and Tyler Johnson also contributed multi-point performances.

Alex Killorn was a scratch for, presumably, health reasons.

Norfolk's players can enjoy this win for another 2-3 hours tonight, and then they need to erase it from the memory banks. The danger after a win like this is complacency. Norfolk's good, but they're not 5 goals better than the IceCaps on any given night, and they have to be ready to go Saturday night in Game Two. The IceCaps won't lick their wounds long, because they've got the shot for redemption on Saturday and they can be right in the spot they want to be with a 1-1 split, so Norfolk can't go into that game overconfident. They have to bring their lunch buckets and make sure they give themselves the best chance to get that 2-0 lead before heading north.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-7-12 Admirals at Whale Game Four

It's a 3 game series now.

NOR-1
CT-4

Series Tied at 2-2

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 23 shots for the loss. He'll want that first goal that went through him by Marchessault back. As with most goals like that, it became a big difference in the game.

First Period
CT Audy-Marchessault, (3) (Deveaux, Newbury), 19:05

Second Period
CT Tanski, (1) (Tessier, Grant), 3:56

Third Period
NOR Panik, (1) (Killorn), 7:42
CT Wellman, (4) (Valentenko, Hrivik), 16:48
CT Newbury, (1) (Erixon, Talbot), 17:51 (EN)

The silver lining of the game is the breaking of a month plus long slump by Richard Panik. Norfolk needs more Panik attacks.

Tyler Johnson was scratched after injury led him to be ineffective in Game Three.

The scene shifts to Bridgeport for Game Five on Wednesday. Tonight's attendance was only 1,641, so I'd say the experience won't be altogether different on Wednesday. St. John's can close out their series in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tomorrow, so Norfolk may very well live to regret allowing this series drag on to 6 or 7 games, even if they make it into the Eastern Conference Finals.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-6-12 Admirals at Whale Game Three

Norfolk withstands Connecticut's best shot.

NOR-4
CT-3

Norfolk Leads the Series 2-1

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the victory. The stat line is ho hum, but he gave the Admirals exactly what they needed. Under siege for much of the first half of the Second Period, Tokarski kept the game close and allowed the Admirals to get their legs underneath them and get a critical victory.

First Period
CT Wellman, (2) , 5:20 (PP)
NOR Palat, (2) , 8:01 (SH)
CT Deveaux, (2) (Hrivik, Newbury), 17:12

Second Period
NOR Killorn, (3) (Kostka, Picard), 11:31 (PP)
NOR Smith, (3) (Barberio, Conacher), 12:16
NOR Angelidis, (1) (Ouellet, Gudas), 17:40

Third Period
CT Wellman, (3) (Newbury, Erixon), 1:06 (PP)

Ondrej Palat and Tokarski were the game's first and third stars. Color me pleasantly surprised with Palat overall this season. He's better along the wall and defensively than advertised. Heck, he even kills penalties. Between Palat and fellow Eastern European Richard Panik, it's really no contest which of the two has played better so far in the playoffs.

Speaking of those from the Czech-or-Slovakia region, Radko Gudas played a ton in the final frame protecting the one goal lead, and played really well.

Alex Killorn is the truth.

Cory Conacher is... touched? Is that the diplomatic way to put it? Heavyweight Andre Deveaux decided to rough up Conacher after the whistle on a play in the Second Period, and Conacher actually chased after him like he wanted to fight him. Cory, brother, you're strong pound-for-pound, but Deveaux eats meals that weigh more than you do. Stick to whipping his behind on the scoreboard, where it really hurts.

Norfolk won tonight despite being outshot for the first time in these playoffs. They'll move on to Game Four tomorrow night with the chance to really put Connecticut behind the eight ball. Yes, they got "home ice" back tonight, but bear in mind Game Five is really a neutral site game in Bridgeport due to a scheduling conflict. The Whale can't afford to lose Game Four. Sweep the leg, Admirals. Sweep the leg.

In the other Eastern Conference Semifinal, St. John's swept the weekend and now hold a 3-1 series lead over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Another reason for Norfolk to get on the gas tomorrow is that they don't want the IceCaps to have a rest advantage heading into any potential Eastern Conference Finals series.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-4-12 Whale at Admirals Game Two

Fall down 8 times, get up 9.

CT-1
NOR-4

Series Tied at 1-1

Dustin Tokarski rebounded from his overtime softie in Game One by stopping 27 of 28 shots for the victory.

First Period
NOR Killorn, (2) (Labrie, Aulie), 3:00
NOR Kostka, (1) (Picard), 17:44

Second Period
CT Deveaux, (1) (Hrivik, Tessier), 9:02 (PP)
NOR Johnson, (1) (Smith, Kostka), 15:45 (PP)

Third Period
NOR Conacher, (1) (Johnson, Barberio), 4:41 (PP)

Tokarski, Tyler Johnson, and Mike Kostka were the game's three stars. Johnson, the AHL's hottest player down the stretch of the regular season, had the first playoff goal and assist of his professional career.

Connecticut surrendered a staggering 11 power plays to the Admirals, 2 of which were converted by Norfolk. The Whale made a huge tactical error trying to bully the Admirals out of the building, and they paid for it on the scoreboard.

Game Three is Sunday in Hartford. In the other Eastern Conference Semifinal series, St. John's and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are also tied 1 game each and will play back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-2-12 Whale at Admirals Game One

What a truly disappointing way to end a game.

CT-3
NOR-2 (OT)

Connecticut Leads the Series 1-0

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals he'd like back on 29 shots including an overtime winner that he'll have nightmares about. It was a truly innocuous long shot that Tokarski got a lot of but popped straight up in the air and went in behind him. Thud. He made some big saves in the Second and Third Period, but the goals he did allow will leave a sick feeling in the Admirals' stomachs.

First Period
NOR Palat, (1) (Segal, Smith), 5:43
CT Audy-Marchessault, (2) (Erixon), 8:18
CT Hrivik, (5) (Wellman, Miller), 8:30
NOR Labrie, (2) (Barberio, Killorn), 16:56

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
CT Thuresson, (1) (Owens, Bell), 2:53

Pierre-Cedric Labrie was the game's second star.

Tyler Johnson returned to the lineup from injury.

Now Norfolk knows what they're up against, and this is admittedly a different team than they faced in the regular season. With guys like J.T. Miller and Marek Hrivik in the lineup, this is a younger and quicker Connecticut team. I think Norfolk was taken a little off guard early tonight and never really turned on the jets the way they typically do. It's a critical Game Two coming up Friday night.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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