Panik attack, y'all!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the victory. He runs his record to 14-7-0 with the win, which is not too shabby. A 2.33 GAA doesn't hurt my feelings either.
NOR Panik, (5) (Cote, Ashton), 3:25
NOR Conacher, (20) (Labrie, Smith), 4:31
NOR Gudas, (5) (Conacher, Smith), 8:25
WBS Petersen, (6) (Craig, Samuelsson), 2:16
NOR Conacher, (21) (Kostka, Smith), 11:34 (PP)
NOR Angelidis, (6) (Dimmen, Landry), 19:00 (PP)
Congratulations are in order for Conacher, Smith, and Mark Barberio on their selections as AHL All-Stars. Conacher now sits at 4th in the league in scoring with 41 points in 33 games. Smith checks in at 3rd with 42 points in 34 games. Barberio, for his part, is tied for tops amongst defensemen in scoring at 29 points in 32 games.
Norfolk moves back into a tie with Hershey at 44 points for tops in the East Division and opens up a 3 point lead on the Pens. The Admirals have a 2 game set with Albany on Friday and Saturday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It's a Panik attack!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the win.
PRO Hennessy, (6) (Arniel, Bartkowski), 11:35
NOR Labrie, (5) (Gudas, Angelidis), 16:32
NOR Panik, (3) (Wright, Palat), 9:59
NOR Wright, (1) (Panik, Palat), 12:40
PRO Cunningham, (2) (Bartkowski, Arniel), 19:46
As I mentioned after last night's game, it's hard to beat a team on back-to-back nights when you really beat them badly on the first night. There's a tendency to come out complacent while they come out flying because they don't want to be embarrassed again. That happened tonight, to the tune of a 13-7 shot advantage for the Bruins that was much wider the first 10-15 minutes of play, but Tokarski held the game close and allowed the Admirals to gain their legs.
In the third period, the game was broken open by the line of Palat/Wright/Panik. It's hard to believe that was just Wright's first goal of the season, but perhaps now he has a stable line to run on. He'd be the "Oh Canada!" in the Czech-Oh-Slovakia line.
Norfolk is 2 points back of the Penguins in 2nd place in the East Division and 4th overall in the Eastern Conference. They draw the Pens in a key divisional showdown on Tuesday in Norfolk.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Last night CapGeek.com reported Lightning prospect Richard Panik was signed by Tampa Bay to a standard three year entry contract. The Lightning made the signing official today.
Panik, 20, was surprisingly sent back to the Ontario Hockey League after training camp last fall despite being eligible to play for AHL Norfolk. It was later revealed he was sent back with instructions to play at a higher level, and Panik did just that.
The Slovakian native scored a career high 27 goals (many in highlight-reel fashion) and 56 points in 51 games for Belleville and Guelph. As captain of Slovakia's World Junior Championship entry, he led the team with seven goals and nine points in six games. He had five points (two goals) in seven games at the WJCs in 2009.
He again was eligible to join Norfolk after Guelph was eliminated in the OHL playoffs, but the 2009 second round pick of the Bolts chose to return home in an attempt to make the Slovakian World Championship roster for the second year in a row. Since Slovakia was the tournament host, the team loaded up with veterans and Panik was among the last cut from the team. He had two assists in six games played in the men's tournament a year ago as a teenager.
Panik, when driven, can be an offensive force in pro hockey and could flirt with a possible position on the Lightning next fall. He has NHL size (6'1" 218), skating, hockey sense, and shot. He has to put it all together and do it consistently. His mean streak/arrogance could be his most valuable asset, too. His biggest "weakness" is his inconsistent work ethic, which combined with some perceived character issues was why he fell to the second round in 2009.
With Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman's patient approach, one would expect Panik to begin next year in the AHL and work his way into an impact role with the Admirals before being considered for the Lightning.
Here's a few Panik highlights from his junior career:
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.
Western Conference Quarterfinals
No.2 Saginaw Spirit 6 @ No.7 Guelph Storm 5
Saginaw wins best of seven series 4-2
C/W Richard Panik, GUE: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM (check to the head)
Season Totals: 51 GP, 27-29-56, -6, 75 PIM
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 1-2-3, -4, 10 PIM
Guelph had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in Game 6, but needed three late goals just to pull within one score of the higher seeded Spirit. The Storm also had a series lead of 2-1, but couldnâ€™t win Game 4 and eventually lost the series. Panik, who had another check-to the head penalty, can now join the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL again since his team is finished. Panikâ€™s junior career is also over. He is expect to play for Norfolk or Tampa Bay next season. Step 1 is a contract, however.
Western Conference Quarterfinals
No.1 Owen Sound Attack 1 @ No.8 London Knights 0
Owen Sound wins best of seven series 4-2
D Geoffrey Schemitsch, OS: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 45 GP, 1-19-20, +17, 14 PIM
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
G Michael Zador, OS: Win, 23 saves on 23 shots, shutout, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 31 GP, 19-5-1-1, 3.23 GAA, .888 sv%, 0 SO
Playoff Totals: 3 GP, 2-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%, 1 SO
Zador (pictured) is taking the No.1 job and running with it. The former London Knight first rounder stopped 23 of 23 shots Sunday to shut out the Knights and help the Attack advance to the second round of the playoffs. Zador was part of Londonâ€™s trade that brought John Tavares to the Knights from Oshawa. The Gens traded Zador to Owen Sound this season when the Attack was looking for a backup goaltender. Zador had fallen to No.3 in Oshawa. Owen Sound is the first team from the Western Conference to advance.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
No.1 Saskatoon Blades 2 @ No.8 Prince Albert Raiders 1
Saskatoon wins best of seven series 4-2
D Teigan Zahn, SAS: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 72 GP, 3-20-23, +39, 133 PIM
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 0-2-2 +2, 6 PIM
Top-seeded Saskatoon got an overtime goal from Matej Stransky (2011) to finally put away the pesky Raiders. Prince Albert goaltender Jamie Tucker turned the puck over in overtime when a Blades player yelled â€œTucks!â€ Tucker thought it was a teammate and handed the puck to him and before he knew it, the puck was in the net. Saskatoon will play either Kootenay or Brandon in Round 2.