Another successful hit for the Presov Mafia.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 37 shots for the win.
NOR Fadden, (4) (Jones, Szczechura), 7:51
NOR Bochenski, (20) (Parrish, Wishart), 19:11
BNG Smith, (9) (Bass, Condra), 16:32
NOR Craig, (19) (Tyrell, Hall), 7:28
BNG O'Brien, (4) (St. Pierre, Hennessy), 8:54 (PP)
BNG Smith, (10) (Condra), 9:46
NOR Mihalik, (2) (Hall, Tyrell), 17:28
Vladimir Mihalik and Ryan Craig were the game's first and third stars. Mihalik, the Luca Brasi of the Presov Mafia, has 2 goals in his last 6 games after going 51 games without a marker. More to the point, though, Mihalik is +9 so far in the month of February with 4 games with a +2 rating or better.
Dana Tyrell posted his 4th multi-point game in the past 6 outings. Ty Wishart continued to inch toward the 30 point plateau with his 27th point of the season. Brandon Bochenski became the first Admiral to hit 20 goals this season, with Craig 1 back at 19.
It's a tribute to the veteran leadership of the team that they got the young players prepared and ready to go tonight, and congratulations to Interim Head Coach Leigh Mendelson on his first AHL victory.
The win is critical, as Norfolk is now tied for 2nd place in the East Division at 66 points with Albany with the Rats holding 1 game in hand. They extended their lead to 6 points over 4th place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with the Pens having 2 games in hand and 10 points over 5th/6th place Adirondack and Syracuse with each of those teams also holding 2 games in hand. The win also might've been the final nail in Binghamton's coffin, as they are now 17 points behind Norfolk, and not even 5 games in hand seem likely to save them.
In the crossover, Bridgeport fell to Abbotsford in regulation tonight, so Norfolk opened a 3 point lead on the 5th place team in the Atlantic, and a 7 point lead on 6th/7th place Providence and Hartford with the Bruins and Pack holding 2 and 1 game in hand, respectively. If Norfolk were to fall to 4th in the East Division, they would need to finish ahead of the 5th place team in the Atlantic to make the postseason.
Now things get interesting starting Friday with the Admirals having back-to-back-to-back games. They can really damage Adirondack's chances in a big 4-point contest to start the marathon, followed by another game in Binghamton on Saturday, and then concluding with a game against Syracuse that could further winnow the field of playoff contenders in the East Division. If Norfolk were to win at least those two big 4-point games, they might be able to narrow the playoff field in the division down to 4 teams effectively fighting for 3 spots: Albany, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and whoever ends up being the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division. Will Norfolk's coaching situation be sorted out in the next 45 or so hours? And, with Jaroslav Janus serving as practice netminder in Tampa, will PTO Matt Lundin have to make his AHL debut in one of the weekend's three contests?
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk brought out the big 16 inch main guns tonight, and blasted Hartford into oblivion.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 3 goals on 24 shots and bathed in sweet, sweet goal support for the victory.
NOR Simek, (16) (Jones, Tyrell), 11:57
NOR Bochenski, (17) , 14:49 (PP)
HFD Dupont, (11) (Nightingale, Roche), 16:19
NOR Hall, (10) (Craig, McGinnis), 0:53
NOR Lashoff, (6) (Szczechura, Bochenski), 12:07 (PP)
NOR Jackson, (1) (Bochenski, Parrish), 17:52
NOR Craig, (17) (Tyrell, Lashoff), 1:18
HFD Crowder, (11) , 12:45
NOR Wishart, (8) (Szczechura, Lashoff), 17:37 (PP)
HFD Nightingale, (2) (Owens, Brashear), 19:45
Brandon Bochenski, Ryan Craig, and Matt Lashoff were the game's three stars. It's a shame the Admirals can't keep all this weaponry past the end of the Olympic break, because they're terrifying now that they've got Parrish and Bochenski in the fold, Lashoff is playing better, and guys like Tyrell and Fadden are starting to show their potential. Bochenski set the all-time Norfolk Admirals record for goals scored in the AHL with his first period marker.
Norfolk outshot Hartford 45-24 in the game. Awesome.
Ty Wishart is now up to 8 goals and 25 points for the season. The goal of a 30 point season is in the crosshairs.
Paul Szczechura has 1 goal and 9 points in 9 games since being sent back down to Norfolk, including 3 multi-point games in his last 5 outings.
Juraj Simek, the Don of the Presov Mafia, has goals in 4 of the past 5 games and 4 goals and 6 points in his past 6.
Tyrell has 2 multi-point games in his past 3 outings and 1 goal and 5 points in his past 4.
Lashoff has 2 goals and 7 points in his last 6 games.
Norfolk moves back to within 4 points of Albany for 2nd place in the East Division with the Rats holding 1 game in hand by virtue of their victory and Albany getting pasted 9-2 tonight by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The 4th place Pens are 4 points behind Norfolk with 2 games in hand. Norfolk is also 6 points up on 5th place Adirondack with the Phantoms holding 3 games in hand. 6th place Syracuse is 8 points back with 2 games in hand. Last place Binghamton is fading, 11 points back of Norfolk with 5 games in hand.
In the crossover, Norfolk holds a 3 point lead over Providence, Hartford, and Bridgeport with the Bruins holding 2 games in hand and the Wolf Pack and Sound Tigers each with 1 game in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
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.
Jim Johnson is 7-0-1-1 as Head Coach.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the win.
HFD Locke, (20) (Byers, Nightingale), 0:52 (SH)
NOR Fadden, (3) (Fornataro, Wishart), 11:56 (PP)
HFD Roche, (2) (Grachev, Nightingale), 8:45
NOR Keller, (8) (McGinnis, Szczechura), 16:55
NOR Szczechura, (7) (Lashoff, Simek), 3:50
After a slow start in the first period, the Admirals outshot Hartford 34-17 from the second period on. The only downside of the night is that they surrendered a point in the standings to Hartford, which still presents a crossover problem from the Atlantic Division.
Norfolk still holds 3rd place in East Division with 52 points, and is now 1 game over .500. They have gained 2 points on 2nd place Albany and are now 5 points back of the River Rats with Albany holding a game in hand. They remain 2 points ahead of 4th place Adirondack and 5th place Syracuse with the Phantoms holding 2 games in hand. They gained 2 points on 6th place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which is now 4 points back with the Pens holding 2 games in hand. The Admirals also maintained their 8 point lead on last place Binghamton with the Sens still holding 4 games in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.