No Lashoff? No Parrish? No problem.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the win. He's now 5-6-1 on the season with 1 shutout, a 2.01 GAA, and a rock solid .925 sv%. He's actually got better numbers than Tokarski.
LOW Palmieri, (18) (Vasyunov, Walter), 12:48
NOR Fornataro, (7) (Craig, Fadden), 17:33
NOR Simek, (15) (Szczechura), 12:16
NOR Craig, (15) (Tyrell, Szczechura), 17:25
NOR Craig, (16) (Fadden, Wishart), 18:39 (PP)
NOR Mihalik, (1) (Tyrell, Hall), 16:01
Ryan Craig, Paul Szczechura, and Vladimir Mihalik were the game's three stars. It was another banner night for the Presov Mafia between Janus' win, and both Juraj Simek, and Mihalik's goals. Mihalik's marker was his first of the season, and with a +3 night he jumped to +1 for the season.
Lowell got former Lightning d-man Cory Murphy back for this game, so they dressed 5 natural defensemen for this game rather than the 4 from last night, but it didn't matter. Even with Matt Lashoff out for a second straight game attending to family matters and Mark Parrish held out, presumably for a recall to the Lightning, the Admirals still dominated the Devils.
Norfolk remains in 3rd place in the East Division, 4 points behind 2nd place Albany, which dismantled Binghamton 7-0 tonight. Albany holds 1 game in hand. They widened their lead on 4th place Adirondack to 6 points after the Phantoms fell to Portland 5-4. Adirondack has 3 games in hand. They are now tied at 52 points with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after the Penguins upset Hershey 5-0 tonight. So the Pens are 6 points back of Norfolk with 2 games in hand. In 6th place is Syracuse, which lost 2-0 tonight to Manchester. They're 8 points behind Norfolk with 2 games in hand. All the way in 7th place in Bighamton, which is now 11 points back of Norfolk with 5 games in hand.
Norfolk's win moves them 1 point ahead of the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division, so the Admirals are starting to take the crossover off the table. Even if they finish 3rd in the East Division, finishing ahead of the crossover 5th place Atlantic team is critical for the Admirals if they want to avoid a date with Hershey in the first round of the playoffs. 5th in the Atlantic is now a 3-way logjam with Providence, Hartford, and Bridgeport all at 57 points. Providence knocked off Springfield 3-1 tonight and Bridgeport beat Hartford 6-4 to create the three team pile-up. Both Providence and Hartford have 1 game in hand on Norfolk.
Norfolk's next game is on Monday, which will be an epic clash in Albany against the River Rats. An Admirals win could pull the team to within 2 points of 2nd place in the East Division.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jaroslav Janus stopped all 24 shots he faced tonight for his first shutout as a professional. He didn't have to face a ton of quality chances, but he got himself in front of the ones Lowell did have. His athleticism is outstanding, and if his positioning ever catches up, he'll be an NHLer.
NOR Parrish, (13) (Fornataro, Fadden), 11:58
NOR Simek, (14) (Keller, Mihalik), 17:40 (PP)
NOR Tyrell, (3) (Tarkir), 17:37 (SH)
Janus, Dana Tyrell, and Mark Parrish were the game's three stars. It was a big night for the Presov Mafia all around between Janus' shutout, Juraj Simek having a power play goal, and big Vladimir Mihalik getting his 10th point of the season. All three players were born in Presov, Slovakia, and all three played well tonight.
For my money, Tyrell was the best player on the ice tonight, though. He's starting to exhibit a level of hockey sense in how to use his speed that I've never seen in his career, and it's got to have the Lightning salivating. He's so quick and his acceleration is so outstanding, defensemen are terrified of him. He's starting to use that to his advantage and curling when he gets into the zone to buy an extra 2-3 feet of ice, or slowing up a step to also buy him some space, and it gives him the chance to make the pass or shoot. It's a lot like how Martin St. Louis uses his speed, and Tyrell's shorthanded goal was a prime example of it. He barrelled into the zone on a 2-on-2, started to slow up as an Admirals trailer was jumping into the zone, and just allowed the traffic to flow by the net before blistering a top corner shot for the goal. Buy stock in Tyrell now while it's still undervalued. You'll make your money back five fold. On a related note, Mitch Fadden is an absolute magician with the puck when he has time and space. He's fun to watch when he's running the power play from the right wing half board.
Norfolk outshot Lowell 41-24 in the game, and it seemed like they played 3/4 of the night in the Devils' zone. In fairness, Lowell only dressed 4 natural defensemen tonight due to injuries and call ups. Norfolk gets Lowell again tomorrow night, and considering the way the blueliners on Lowell's tongues were wagging from fatigue, it's a prime chance for Norfolk to get back-to-back wins in two nights against the same opponent, which is difficult to do.
From a standings standpoint, it was a nearly perfect night for the Admirals. In the East Division, 2nd place Albany fell to Hershey, so the Admirals now close to within 4 points of second place with the River Rats having 1 game in hand. 3rd place Norfolk extended its lead over 4th place Adirondack, which was idle, to 4 points with the Phantoms holding 3 games in hand. They also extended their lead over 5th place Syracuse to 6 points after Syracuse was defeated by Portland. Syracuse holds 2 games in hand over Norfolk, and fell into a tie at 50 points with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which defeated Binghamton tonight in a shootout. The Pens hold two games in hand on the Admirals. The Admirals extended their lead over 7th place Binghamton to 9 points in the process, but the Sens hold 5 games in hand.
In the crossover, Providence blew out the Atlantic Division's 5th place team, Hartford, pulling the Admirals to within 1 point of the Wolf Pack with Hartford holding 1 game in hand. As readers of this blog are probably sick of hearing at this point, if the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division finishes ahead of the 4th place team in the East Division, they will still go to the playoffs, so it's important for the Admirals to not only take care of business in their division. They also need to try to make sure they outpace 5th place in the Atlantic to maximize their playoff chances. Bridgeport and Providence are tied for 6th in the Atlantic with 55 points, 1 point behind Norfolk with the Bruins having 1 game in hand on the Ads.
Norfolk has 15 home games remaining on the schedule and 11 on the road. They've pulled to 2 games under .500 at The Scope and they're 4 games over .500 away from home. Point being: if the Admirals can keep improving on their Division-worst home mark, they'll be in fantastic shape.
Jim Johnson is 9-1-1-1 in his first dozen games as Head Coach. Instant gratification.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Love that headline on the press release from the Admirals. Move over Iverson.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 22 of 23 to get a win the Admirals absolutely needed to have.
ADK Kolanos, (4) (Dingle, Bellamy), 3:42
NOR Smolenak, (3) (Lundin, Mihalik), 17:47
NOR Craig, (9) (Smolenak, Jackson), 1:32
Ryan Craig (aka The Answer) and Radek Smolenak were the game's first and second stars. That's what you have to love about this year's version of the Admirals: sweet, sweet depth up front. Blair Jones has been hot as a firecracker and earned his callup. Last season that would've crushed the Ads. This season you've got a 20 goal, 50 point capable guy like Smolenak just waiting to pick up where Jones left off.
Vladimir Mihalik snapped a five-game pointless streak with a helper and pulled himself back to even in plus-minus for the season. Kudos to Scott Jackson for keying Craig and Smolenak's winning 2-on-1 in overtime. Jackson's posted a very respectable +8 rating so far this year.
Norfolk outshot Adirondack 36-23 in the game. I'm still waiting for when these shot imbalances are going to turn into some nice blowouts in the Admirals' favor rather than these nail biters. Norfolk's played so many close games this year. Norfolk can get back to .500 tomorrow night, but they'll have to do it in Hershey, which may be the toughest place in the AHL to go win a hockey game as a visitor.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk came out ready to kick butt tonight.
Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the win. Slick Rik is now 3-1-0 on the season with a 1.51 GAA and .937 sv%. That's stylish. I wish the Lightning brass gave him a little more love publicly.
NOR Bochenski, (9) (Simek, Jones), 2:06
NOR Wishart, (1) (Bochenski, Simek), 3:20 (PP)
NOR Lundin, (2) (Karsums, Hall), 19:14
NOR Jones, (3) (Bochenski, Jackson), 5:26
BNG Hamel, (3) (Keller, Karlsson), 7:38
NOR Bochenski, (10) (Jones, Mihalik), 8:05
BNG Daugavins, (3) (Hennessy, Condra), 8:47
Brandon Bochenski, Blair Jones, and Ty Wishart were the game's three stars. Bochenski's 4 point night moves him over a point a game for the season with 16 in 15 games. He's currently 9th in the league in scoring. Jones has had two three point games in his last three contests, helping fill the void left when Ryan Craig was called up.
Mike Lundin is on pace for a 48 point season. He's tied for 11th in the league in scoring for defensemen, as of this writing. I would consider he and Bochenski to be very strong candidates to be AHL All-Stars if they stay on schedule.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Finally, the Admirals start to put it all together.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 16 shots for the win.
NOR Bochenski, (5) (Smolenak, Lundin), 2:44 (PP)
NOR Bochenski, (6) (Szczechura, Jackson), 5:48
NOR Szczechura, (2) (Bochenski, Smolenak), 3:39
NOR Craig, (5) (Mihalik, Lundin), 7:59
POR Byron, (2) (Mancari, Generous), 9:02
POR Ennis, (5) , 11:52
There was a lot of talk about learning how to finish games coming off a road trip where Norfolk squandered leads in two of three games. Although the Admirals allowed the Pirates to cut a 4-0 lead in half in the second period, they shut the door completely in the third, allowing the Pirates just 6 shots in the final frame.
Who are you and what have you done with Vladimir Mihalik? Mihalik protected one of his teammates in the first period after a big hit by dropping the mitts, earning an instigator misconduct in the process. He then returned to the game and added a helper on Ryan Craig's goal to go with his 17 penalty minutes. New season, new Vladdy.
Box score from TheAHL.com.