It's a dozen, now.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 18 shots for his 27th win of the season. That ties his career high for wins set in his rookie season 2 years ago. He is also up to 8 victories in his last 8 starts.
NOR Conacher, (31) (Gudas, Devos), 7:04
NOR Ouellet, (14) (Angelidis, Picard), 8:28
NOR Johnson, (19) (Jackson, Angelidis), 14:32 (SH)
SPR Regner, (2) (Savard, MacLeod), 8:15
NOR Panik, (13) (Conacher, Barberio), 10:19 (PP)
NOR Johnson, (20) (Palat, Panik), 11:00
Tyler Johnson (pictured), Mike Angelidis, and Cory Conacher were the game's three stars. Johnson's now tied for 4th in the league in rookie scoring. He's got no shot of catching Conacher, but there's no denying how impressive of a debut campaign he's had. With 20 goals now, he's threatening to break into the top-20 in the AHL in that category, as well.
Just to reiterate my previous point about Jon Cooper deserving coach of the year, the Admirals rookies tonight had 4 goals and 8 points tonight, combined, between Conacher, Devos, Johnson, Panik, and Palat. That's a 12 game winning streak where your sled dogs are just puppies, which in my mind is indicative of excellent coaching.
Fortunately for the Admirals, there was no let down thanks to a little pre-game altercation that got their juices going and probably helped propel them out to the 3-0 first period lead. Springfield's got muscle in the physical department, but they probably are regretting getting the Admirals, who have much more muscle in the offensive department, ready to go right out of the gate tonight.
Panik attack, y'all!
The Admirals expanded their division lead to 10 points over the idle Pens and they maintained a 12 point buffer on Hershey, with the Bears winning tonight. Hershey has 2 games in hand on the Admirals and the Pens have 3, but things look very good right now in the division.
In the conference, Syracuse screamed past St. John's with 4 goals in the final frame to steal a 6-4 win. So, the Admirals now hold an 8 point lead in the conference with St. John's still holding 5 games in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jaroslav the Bear Slayer!
Jaroslav Janus stopped 26 of 27 for the victory, raising his season record against the Hershey Bears to 4-0-1. Janus also raised his season save percentage to .900 in the game, capping a stellar February where he was 4-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and a .932 save percentage.
NOR Conacher, (30) (Johnson, Barberio), 6:20 (PP)
HER Kane, (15) (Eakin, Bourque), 12:56 (PP)
NOR Palat, (5) (Johnson), 14:39
Janus and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and second stars.
Cory Conacher, who may get a Lightning contract as early as tomorrow, notched his 30th goal of his rookie campaign. He's 10 back of the Admirals record, stalking Troy Brouwer.
Yet another 2 point game for Tyler Johnson. Ho hum.
Your Cooper/Flanagan 2012 update: Coach Cooper ran the Admirals' franchise record winning streak to 10 games. Norfolk stretched their division lead to 6 points over the idle Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and they've buried the Bears 10 points back in third place now. They've also built a nice 4 point cushion on St. John's for tops in the Eastern Conference, although St. John's holds 4 games in hand. Friday and Saturday hold a 2 game set for the Admirals against the middling Springfield Falcons.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Coach Cooper sets the Admirals record with the team's 9th straight win.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 28 of 30 for his 25th win of the season. He moves one ahead of Ben Bishop, who was traded to the Senators organization today, into the top spot in the AHL in wins, and he has to be the odds on favorite to lead the AHL at season's end after the trade. Even if the Sens leave Bishop in Bingo, Binghamton is dead last in the East Division, so he won't have a very good team in front of him. Tokarski has a 4 win advantage on the next closest goaltenders beyond Bishop. So, it's really his to lose. He's now 7-1-0 in February with 2 shutouts, a 2.00 GAA, and a .926 save percentage, so he certainly should be in line for some award consideration come March 1st, too.
WBS Street, (18) (Grant, Mormina), 12:27 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (9) (Johnson, Segal), 17:02 (PP)
NOR Cote, (1) (Johnson), 4:44
WBS Picard, (4) (Craig, Gibbons), 9:50
NOR Ashton, (19) (Dimmen, Conacher), 17:56 (PP)
Carter Ashton and Jean-Philippe Cote were the game's first and third stars. Alexandre Picard was the game's second star, but it was their Alexandre Picard, the former Lightning defenseman, and not the current Lightning farmhand. Ashton snapped a 9-game goalless streak with the tally, and he's now 1 shy of the 20-goal plateau in his rookie campaign.
With 2 assists today, Tyler Johnson continued his hot February. He's got 3 goals and 11 points in his last 8 games, and he's actually 3 points ahead of Ashton for second among Norfolk rookies behind the uncatchable Cory Conacher.
Glad to see Richard Panik not miss any time after the dirtiness in Hershey yesterday. As I said, that will get cleaned up on Wednesday, I'm sure.
Let me be the first to pronounce Bolt Prospects as the official campaign headquarters for Jon Cooper's (pictured with the Godfather of Lightning hockey) bid for AHL Coach of the Year. 9 straight wins snaps the previous franchise record for the Admirals, and when you consider there's 4 Admirals regulars with Tampa Bay right now due to injuries and trades, you realize how amazing a coaching job he's been doing. The other thing you really have to commend is how he's blended so many rookies into the winning formula. Jeff Dimmen, Ondrej Palat, Panik, Ashton, Johnson, and Conacher: that's 6 rookies he's coached up and worked into the rotation of a team that now is tied for tops in the entire AHL in points. And they're not the only rookies who have contributed. Philip-Michael Devos has also been a regular in this lineup, as well. It's been a remarkable job so far, and Julien BriseBois and Steve Yzerman have every right to break their arms slapping each other on the back for that hire. He's been damned good.
Norfolk now holds a 4 point lead on the Penguins for 1st place in the East Division and an 8 point lead on 3rd place Hershey, with the Bears holding a game in hand. They've also moved into 1st in the Eastern Conference by 2 points over St. John's, although the Ice Caps have a formidable 4 games in hand. For the moment, though, the Admirals are tied for tops in the AHL in points, and are tops in wins, goals, and goal differential (+47!).
Wednesday, they'll have the opportunity to put Hershey firmly behind the 8-ball with a 4-point game at Scope that could allow the Admirals to bury their arch-rivals in a 10-point hole that will be very difficult for Hershey to climb out of. The rest of the week holds a 2-game set on Friday and Saturday against a very mediocre Springfield Falcons team. So, Norfolk's got a big-time opportunity to keep the momentum rolling and really extend their lead in the East Division and start to set their sites higher on being the best team in the Eastern Conference and even the entire AHL. It's really, really exciting times.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk gels quickly after a slow start in come-from-behind victory.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 35 shots for the win, including a penalty shot top on Andre Petterson. He didn't get a star for his efforts, but he absolutely gave his team a chance to win tonight. Tic moves to 24-11-0 on the season, tying Ben Bishop of Peoria for the league lead in wins with Bishop still in action tonight.
BNG Hoffman, (13) (Locke), 1:34
BNG Klinkhammer, (14) (Petersson, Gryba), 6:42 (PP)
NOR Segal, (14) (Picard, Oberg), 0:15
NOR Oberg, (5) , 6:27 (PP)
NOR Labrie, (13) (Johnson, Conacher), 19:30
Evan Oberg and Pierre-Cedric Labrie were the game's first and second stars. Oberg has 4 goals and 13 points in his last dozen games, and one can only speculate where he'd be in points had he not spent the better part of two months on a plane, waiting for a plane, or getting on and off a plane.
Veteran Brandon Segal (pictured) scored a goal in his first game back with the Admirals since his acquisition from the Blackhawks organization, once again reaffirming that Brandon Segal is Hard to Kill.
10 shots on goal tonight for Tyler Johnson. He didn't find the back of the net, but it darned sure wasn't for the lack of trying. He did get the primary assist on the game winner, though.
With the win, Norfolk moves back into a tie for the East Division lead at 71 points with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. They also hold a 4 point lead now on the third place Hershey Bears with the Pens and Bears having burned all their games in hand, at the moment.
It gets REALLY interesting now. Norfolk goes into Hershey tomorrow night with the opportunity to put the Bears 6 points back, and on Sunday night they'll have a pivotal matchup with the Penguins. Remember, Norfolk would very much prefer to win their division than face the possibility of a 4/5 matchup against the Pens or Bears in the first round. The road to the Calder Cup would be significantly easier for the Ads if they secure the first or second seed in the East.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
And, Nacho kicks the extra point!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 22 shots for the victory. Much like Dwayne Roloson against the Sharks last night, here's a young man who loves his goal support. Despite his ugly save percentage on the night, by collecting his 23rd win of the year, Tic moved back into a tie with Peoria's Ben Bishop for the league lead in wins.
NOR Kostka, (8) (Johnson, Smith), 2:43 (SH)
SYR Holzapfel, (9) (Jacques, Caputi), 5:07 (PP)
SYR McMillan, (8) (Sexton, Carle), 9:37
NOR Johnson, (18) (Conacher, Fornataro), 16:11 (PP)
NOR Picard, (3) (Smith, Palat), 19:16 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (29) (Oberg, Barberio), 5:45
SYR Holzapfel, (10) (Gordon), 5:58
NOR Angelidis, (12) (Kostka), 9:57 (SH)
NOR Smith, (21) (Kostka, Oberg), 12:00 (PP)
NOR Labrie, (12) (Dimmen, Conacher), 13:00
SYR Schofield, (7) (Palmieri), 14:40
Mike Kostka and Trevor Smith were the game's first and second stars. Kostka, for the moment, sits in a tie for 5th amongst all defensemen at 31 points in 48 games. Mark Barberio still paces the field at 43 points in 51 games, and he's opened up a 4 point gap on second place.
Lost in the sizable shadow of Kostka and Barberio, though, has been the play of suitcase virtuoso Evan Oberg (pictured). He now has 16 points in 33 games this season, but the bulk of those points have come recently. He has 10 points in his last 10 contests, which is impressive while pulling dual duty in between his role as the Mayor of Concourse B at Norfolk International Airport.
Ondrej Palat has 5 points in his last 4 games. Impressive, but Tyler Johnson raised Palat with 7 points over the same span. It took nearly 5 months, but Johnson has run down fellow rookie Carter Ashton in both points and goals. The two are now knotted up at 18 goals a piece and TJ's now moved 1 point ahead of Ashton at 35 for the season.
Lapping the entire field of rookies, league-wide, is phenom Cory Conacher. His 29 goals and 60 points are 4th amongst all scorers, and his tally tonight moved him out of a 3-way tie for the top spot in goals. Consider the possibilities, Lightning fans. The organization could have the goal scoring champions at both the NHL and AHL levels in the same season. That's quite the feather in the Lightning's cap.
Norfolk's victory allows them to keep pace with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the top spot in the East Division, and by virtue of Hershey losing a 6-0 decision to Providence, they've opened up a 3 point lead on the third place Bears. Winning the East Division looks like it may be CRITICAL to the Admirals' chances come the playoffs. They want to avoid a possible 4/5 matchup against the Bears or Penguins in the first round and get a less experienced club from the Atlantic or Northeast in the first round, instead.
The Admirals rematch Syracuse tomorrow. As always, we stress how difficult it is to beat the same team on back-to-back nights, especially when you thump them the first night. Let's see if Norfolk has learned that lesson yet.
Box score from TheAHL.com.