Big Joe is now 7th in the league in scoring.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the win. How spoiled are these netminders, with all the goal support they're getting?
ADK Syvret, (2) (Kalinski), 0:56
ADK Syvret, (3) (Rowe, Holmstrom), 7:07
NOR Harju, (10) (Vernace), 4:27
ADK Pither, (2) (Clackson), 7:34
NOR Berry, (6) (Harju, Gudas), 9:30
NOR Harju, (11) (Quick, Giliati), 11:29
NOR Marks, (1) , 12:34
NOR Harju, (12) (Durno), 11:00
NOR Wright, (6) (Szczechura, Fornataro), 19:45
Johan Harju and Tim Marks were the game's first and third stars. "Big Joe" Harju is now tied for 7th in the AHL in scoring, after his 4 point, hat trick effort tonight. For those wondering, he's one point shy of his lifelong teammate, Linus Omark, who has 23 points so far for Oklahoma City. Harju is also tied for third in goals, as well. Again, you have to give credit to Harju for playing so well since being sent back down from Tampa Bay. A lot of young players would have pouted. Harju's running wild with 5 goals and 6 points in 3 games since the demotion. I am beginning to wonder what Johan has left to learn in Norfolk. To me, the holes in his game are his inexperience with Boucher's system and a lack of upper-body strength. Both of those probably would be fixed more quickly in Tampa Bay. That's a good problem to have.
As of this posting, the Admirals have three players in the AHL's top-ten in plus-minus. Chris Durno is tied for first at +14. Radko Gudas is tied for third at +12. Kevin Quick is tied for tenth at +10. Defenseman Scott Jackson is steadily climbing the charts to join his teammates. He is +4 in 4 games since returning from injury on 11/20 and is +8 in 10 games this season.
Stefano Giliati now has 1 goal and 4 points in the last 4 games.
Norfolk jumps back into second place in the East Division, 4 points back of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with the Pens holding a game in hand. Continuing the trend from last season, Norfolk has been rude houseguests when they travel away from Scope. They are 8-3-2-0 in 13 road games so far this season. They've also played six more road games than home games, which means they'll have a repeat of last year's scenario where they should have a ton of home games in the second half of the year. If they can start winning home games at the same clip as they do on the road, they will be in outstanding shape.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk takes Charlotte to the woodshed.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the win. It was another sub-.900 performance, but he did shut the door in the final two periods, so there's still positives to take away.
NOR Durno, (6) (Quick, Milam), 1:05
CHA Dalpe, (7) (Bowman, Rodney), 3:30 (PP)
CHA Micflikier, (9) (Boychuk, Carson), 4:37 (PP)
NOR Durno, (7) (Giliati), 8:31
CHA Samson, (12) (Nash, Boychuk), 14:07
NOR Harju, (8) (Berry, Fritz), 16:48
NOR Vernace, (3) (Durno), 11:09
NOR Harju, (9) (Angelidis), 16:40
NOR Wright, (5) , 1:00 (SH)
NOR Giliati, (2) (Vernace), 5:16
Chris Durno, Johan Harju, and Michael Vernace were the game's three stars. It's great to see a pair of goals by Harju. You always wonder how a player is going to respond the first time they get sent back down to the minors, especially a European player. Harju appears to have responded well. Same thing with James Wright, who had a shorty tonight in garbage time.
Stefano Giliati had 1 goal and 1 assist tonight. That's my guy. Don't look now, but the Montreal native has 5 points in 11 games this season.
As of this posting, Chris Durno and Radko Gudas are tied for second in the AHL with a +12 rating, one back of Portland's Drew Schiestel.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.
Goaltending coming together at the right time.
Dustin Tokarski allowed just 1 goal on 22 shots for the win. Tokarski also stopped a third period penalty shot by Denis Hamel, to boot. That snaps a streak of three straight games where he recorded a loss and had a sub-.900 save percentage. Between this start and Desjardins' win last night, the Admirals have to be hoping they're going to now start to get the goaltending they thought they'd get at the start of this year when, on paper, it appeared they had one of the best tandems in the AHL.
ADK Laliberte, (3) (Wellwood, Hamel), 8:05 (PP)
NOR Berry, (4) (Simek, Barberio), 19:16
NOR Berry, (5) (Pouliot, Wishart), 18:19
NOR Angelidis, (3) (Giliati, Gudas), 2:20
It was a pretty good night for the Lightning's two rookie d-men, too. Mark Barberio now has 5 assists and is +4 in 12 games. Radko Gudas also collected his 5th assist of the season and is +10(!) in 14 games. Not too bad for a couple of greenhorns.
And, Stefano Giliati, who I've adopted as a BP favorite, got an assist that is his 3rd point in 8 games. I like me some Stefano Giliati. He's a quick little sparkplug who's a nice mix of skill and jam.
It's a nice win for Norfolk considering that their two best shooters, arguably, (Harju and Jones) are up in Tampa right now. Yes, Adirondack is terrible, but they also beat Norfolk in OT last time out. There's nothing wrong with taking care of business.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk's weekend has the sour taste of a two point weekend that should have been a four point weekend.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 7 goals on 29 shots for the overtime loss. Rebound control was the culprit. With the exception of the last goal, he was making the first stop and his positioning wasn't bad. But, he was kicking rebounds up the slot and the Admirals defense was not clearing them out. I thought he played better than Desjardins did last night, but neither was acceptable, obviously.
POR Mancari, (7) (Byron), 3:27
NOR Szczechura, (5) (Giliati, Mihalik), 5:36
NOR Roy, (2) (Barberio, Szczechura), 13:27
POR Whitmore, (4) (Turnbull), 2:01
NOR Simek, (3) (Pouliot, Harju), 6:30
NOR Fornataro, (3) (Szczechura, Wright), 13:47
POR Whitmore, (5) (Crawford, Turnbull), 9:36
NOR Wright, (3) (Szczechura, Fornataro), 10:03 (PP)
POR Stuart, (3) (Brennan, Biega), 10:29
NOR Harju, (5) (Simek, Pouliot), 11:28 (PP)
POR Turnbull, (1) (Roloff, Whitmore), 12:59
POR Schiestel, (2) (Roloff, Turnbull), 14:54
POR Gragnani, (3) (Mancari, Biega), 1:05
Paul Szczechura was the game's second star. Juraj Simek was, in my opinion, the best Admiral tonight. He showed excellent hand-eye coordination batting a puck out of air for his goal, and that line he has with Pouliot and Harju in one of the best in the league right now.
Through two periods, the defense was much improved tonight. I don't know if that's a function of Mike Flanagan being back to run the defense after Steve Thomas did it last night, but they were better at taking care of details within five feet of their own blueline, with the exception of Portland's first goal. The last period was just the intersection of a team letting its foot off the gas once Harju scored on a semi-soft goal to make it 6-4 and some bad luck with rebounds going right onto Pirates' sticks. The biggest play of the game was the 2-on-1 goal Portland scored to make it 6-5, where Michael Vernace got completely lost. I'm not surprised he was -3 tonight. He's struggling with his positioning and the way he surrenders the blueline on the rush, they might need to start calling him Versailles.
My revalation of the night was Stefano Giliati, who is a speedy little sparkplug who was either generating scoring chances or popping people all night long. He got his first point as an Admiral tonight, and I was impressed. I'm surprised they don't play him more.
I liked the way rookies Mark Barberio and Radko Gudas played. Barberio ended up a team high +2 along with Mihalik, and although his skating is mediocre, he's outstanding at reading the play in the offensive end. He's a very crafty player. He has a ways to go, but I enjoyed what I saw. Gudas appeared in both games this weekend, and he was quiet for most of five periods of hockey, but he was very visible in the third period tonight. He and Wishart are the only two Admirals who routinely step up at their blueline and give a pop, but what surprised me about Radko was how he carried the puck offensively a couple of times. The skill set is there, and it's real. Like Barberio, he's a couple of years off, but there's something to work with there, and he and Mihalik make a decent little pairing. The reunification of Czechoslovakia going on with that pairing.
It makes me puke that a goaltender as bad as Leggio managed to backdoor his way into two wins this weekend. That's annoying.
I'll be leaving Norfolk tomorrow morning, but I just wanted to close by encouraging Lightning fans to make the trip if you're looking for a weekend trip. This is an entertaining team, with the highest scoring offense in the league, and this is a good town. I enjoy coming to Norfolk because it reminds me a lot of Tampa, and I think you'll feel the same way to if you come up here.
Box score from TheAHL.com.