The American Hockey League announced today that Norfolk Admirals right wing Carter Ashton was named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Oct. 9, 2011. Ashton scored three goals and recorded an assist in two games to help Norfolk to a pair of victories.
The AHL stole our thunder as we at Bolt Prospects were set to name him our Prospect of the Week today. Yes, we're putting ourselves in the same category as the AHL Player of the Week. It's our site.
The kids are still alright...
Jaroslav Janus allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the win. With Dustin Tokarski being hurt in camp and after giving up 5 goals on opening night, there's a bit of an opening for Janus to win a few more starts. He helped his stock tonight with a perfect 13/13 in the final frame to slam the door shut and secure the win.
NOR Ashton, (3) (Barberio, Conacher), 12:58 (PP)
CHA Bowman, (1) (Sanguinetti, Matsumoto), 16:12 (PP)
CHA Roy, (1) (Matsumoto, McNicoll), 9:40 (PP)
NOR Picard, (2) (Wright, Fornataro), 10:38
NOR Johnson, (2) (Vernace, Conacher), 15:44
CHA Bowman, (2) (Matsumoto, Bellemore), 19:50
NOR Conacher, (1) (Ashton, Johnson), 5:50
Cory Conacher (pictured) and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. Their linemate, Carter Ashton, also chipped in his 3rd goal of the season, and as a group they accounted for 3 of Norfolk's 4 goals.
Norfolk outshot Charlotte 44-29 in the match.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Comeback kids bury the Checkers.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 5 goals on 29 shots for the win. He should be thankful his guys picked him up tonight.
NOR Ashton, (1) (Conacher, Barberio), 6:37 (PP)
CHA Matsumoto, (1) (Sanguinetti, Boychuk), 4:26 (PP)
CHA Samson, (1) (Peters), 8:20
NOR Johnson, (1) (Barberio, Tyrell), 10:00 (SH)
CHA Samson, (2) (Sanguinetti, Matsumoto), 14:48
CHA Boychuk, (1) (Krueger, Terry), 6:08
NOR Angelidis, (1) (Smith, Picard), 8:01 (PP)
CHA Matsumoto, (2) (Bowman), 12:44
NOR Labrie, (1) (Quick, Fornataro), 13:19
NOR Picard, (1) (Ouellet, Smith), 16:38 (PP)
NOR Ashton, (2) (Petiot, Wright), 1:55
Mark Barberio starts his season with assists in triplicate.
Alexandre Picard had the biggest goal of the game on the power play to cap a 2 goal third period comeback and send the game to overtime. Who started the comeback? Pierre-Cedric Labrie with a nifty move to cut past the defense and cut the deficit in half. Somewhere Bolt Prospects writer and secret P-C Labrie fan Chad Schnarr is cringing and chuckling.
Norfolk outshot Charlotte 45-29 in the victory.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
God even hates Panthers fans in preseason.
Dwayne Roloson stopped 31 of 33 for the win. Hide the children and the silverware, old man Roli is back in town.
08:06 TB Ritola, (Kubina, Connolly)(PP)
06:31 TB Shannon, (Kubina, Bergeron)(PP)
12:55 TB Shannon, (Stamkos, Clark)
00:23 TB Ashton, (Brewer)
04:20 FLA Skille, (Robak)(PP)
16:20 FLA Repik, (Robak, Derlyuk)
18:46 TB Lecavalier, (Purcell, Hedman)
As the Lightning move a little closer to icing their opening night lineup, now reading the tea leaves gets more interesting.
Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly each got over 14 minutes of ice time, while Cory Conacher, Dana Tyrell, and Blair Jones got less, especially Jones. Connolly and Conacher remain decisive underdogs, but the battle between Ashton, Tyrell, and Jones for positioning is fascinating. Boucher knows what he has in Tyrell, and to a lesser extent Jones. For Ashton to get himself a goal and play 14+ quality minutes is a key step for him in trying to establish a comfort level with Boucher.
And, then there's the matter of Mattias Ritola, who is a different player now than when Boucher had him in the lineup the first half of last season. He got over 14 minutes and quite a bit of PK ice time. Like Ashton, for him to get a goal and play 14+ quality minutes helps establish a comfort level with the coaching staff. I'd say he was probably the big winner on the night.
Box score from NHL.com.
A brave Norfolk Admirals team has nothing to be ashamed about effort-wise in this playoffs.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Wins the Series 4-2
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 27 shots, including an unsuccessful third period penalty shot by Joe Vitale in the third period. Considering the winning goal was essentially a 3-on-1, there's not much more Tic could've done tonight. He finishes the playoffs with 1 shutout, a 2.20 GAA, and a .924 save percentage, and he looks like a lock to be Norfolk's starter next season. In all likelihood, Cedrick Desjardins will be the backup in Tampa Bay next season, and Tokarski's play down the stretch seems to indicate he's the type of netminder who wants and needs to be the clear cut #1 in order to be at his best after struggling a bit as a tandem starter with Desjardins. He's regained the title of the Lightning's "Goaltender of the Future" and the priority for next season, his third pro season, will be for Tokarski to prove he can be that consistent #1 goalie before potentially moving up to the NHL in the 4th season of his pro career. At least, that seems to be what the plan is for Tic.
WBS Wagner, (1) (Walker, Craig), 2:13 (PP)
WBS Wagner, (2) (Potter, Walker), 3:58 (PP)
WBS Wagner, (3) (Wallace, Potter), 18:36
NOR Pouliot, (4) (Ritola, Vernace), 14:18
NOR Jones, (1) (Ritola, Milam), 16:03 (PP)
WBS Vitale, (2) (Wallace, Collins), 7:23
NOR Wright, (1) (Fornataro, Pouliot), 10:35 (PP)
WBS Wallace, (1) (Vitale, Potter), 18:57 (EN)
WBS Sill, (1) (Strait, Thiessen), 19:21 (EN)
Marc-Antoine Pouliot was the game's third star.
When you consider the Penguins came into this series the best team in the Eastern Conference, and the Admirals had to win their last game just to avoid having to cross over into the Atlantic Division, the Admirals have nothing to feel ashamed of in playing this series so tightly. The hard work and character of this Admirals team is worthy of mention, and the team and organization have come such a long way in 4 seasons since the Lightning started their affiliation with Norfolk.
Coincidentally, the East's crossover team, Binghamton, just knocked off Manchester in Game 7 to advance to the Atlantic Division final against Portland. One wonders what shape a Norfolk/Manchester series might have taken if Norfolk hadn't beaten Connecticut to close the regular season.
The big question now is what this Norfolk Admirals team will look like next season, with several of their older players facing contract decisions and several of the Lightning's best young prospects ticketed for Virginia next season.
Will veterans like Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Chris Durno, Mike Vernace, Mathieu Roy, and Troy Milam be back with the team next year? What about long-time pros like Blair Jones, Mike Angelidis, Mattias Ritola, and Vladimir Mihalik? Mihalik and Ritola just finished their 4th years of pro hockey and Jones and Angelidis finished their 5th. Many of these players will surely have opportunities to play in European leagues next season. We know Johan Harju will, for instance, and the question is whether Johan will stay in North America after a disappointing second half. And will Kevin Quick's time in the Lightning organization be over as well?
Conversely, the Admirals will need to free up spots for several of the Lightning's top prospects. Carter Ashton and Charles Landry have already made appearances for the club this season in the playoffs. Richard Panik and Tyler Johnson seem like locks to be in Norfolk next season, too.
Next season could be a big change for the Admirals organization, as the last vestiges of previous regimes pass on. Change is inevitable for a minor league club, but the Admirals seem destined for even more change than is the norm. The good news is that they seem to have good goaltending locked down and even better coaching after a successful inaugural campaign by Head Coach Jon Cooper and assistant Mike Flanagan along with player development consultant Steve Thomas. This group seems to have taken a decent foundation laid by earlier teams and made it even stronger this year, and that foundation can help the new Admirals grow to be even more successful than this year's edition, in time. Look at how well guys like Mark Barberio and Radko Gudas took to the league this season. It portends good things.
Box score from TheAHL.com.