Tic returns with a vengeance.
Dustin Tokarski returned from missing the weekend set against Albany with a minor injury to stop 32 of 33 shots for the victory. Since the start of February, Tic has gone 10-2-2 with 2 shutouts, and he's 6-1-0 in the month of March with 1 shutout, a 1.56 GAA, and a .942 save percentage. Put simply, Tic continues to live up to his reputation of playing his best when the stakes go up. Don't gamble with Tic: he'll take your money, your shirt, your car keys, and your girl. Believe it.
NOR Roy, (4) , 2:29
NOR Angelidis, (18) (Wright), 4:38 (SH)
ADK Pither, (9) , 16:43 (PP)
Tokarski, Mathieu Roy, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. Angelidis has obliterated his career best statistics this season playing a very well rounded, power forward's game with 18 goals, 35 points, a +19 rating in 69 games. He's also tied his career high of 151 penalty minutes, to boot.
Norfolk moves into 3rd in the East Division via the win percentage tiebreaker over Charlotte and are now 5 points back of 2nd place Hershey with 3 games in hand. They also maintain a 5 point gap on 5th place Binghamton with 2 games in hand and they've expanded their lead on the Atlantic's 4th place team, Worcester, to 8 points with 2 games in hand. With 11 games left to go in the regular season, Norfolk has 86 points, meaning they likely need just 2-4 points to realistically insure a playoff spot, and they control their own destiny in terms of moving up to 2nd in the Division to try to clinch home ice in the first round.
But, the degree of difficulty goes up this weekend. Norfolk faces Manchester Friday and Saturday before traveling to Charlotte on Sunday. The Monarchs are a solid 2nd in the Atlantic Division and Charlotte has refused to go away all season long.
One other note: with their victory tonight the Admirals moved past their point total (84) from all of last season, with another 22 points still up for grabs on the schedule. After a rough start to its affiliation with Norfolk, the Lightning's farmhands have improved each season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Dustin Tokarski allowed just 1 goal on 22 shots for the victory. Tokarski is 7-2-2 since the start of February.
NOR Angelidis, (17) (Vernace, Berry), 11:51
NOR Nelson, (7) (Angelidis, Roy), 19:59
NOR Harju, (20) (Szczechura, Mihalik), 15:39
NOR Barberio, (8) (Labrie), 17:59
BNG Wick, (14) (Hoffman, Lehner), 2:12
NOR Pouliot, (19) (Fornataro, Harju), 13:10 (PP)
Mike Angelidis, Johan Harju, and Levi Nelson were the game's three stars. Harju became the second Admiral to hit the 20 goal mark this season. Blair Jones was the first, and Marc-Antoine Pouliot may be the next after scoring his 19th tonight.
It's hard to under-emphasize the importance of tonight's win for the Admirals. The club regained its 4 point gap on Binghamton for 4th place in the East Division and cashed in a game in hand to move within 3 points of Charlotte for 3rd with 2 games in hand still remaining. Just as well, Hershey lost 3-2 to Worcester tonight, so Norfolk moved within 6 points of 2nd place with 3 games in hand on the Bears and they maintained a 5 point gap on the Sharks and Connecticut Whale in the worst-case scenario where a crossover into the Atlantic Division bracket becomes necessary. A loss tonight would have been a disaster for the Admirals, but now Binghamton is the club sweating as they hold a playoff spot by a slim, single point.
There are 16 games remaining in the regular season. Norfolk faces these same Senators on Friday at Scope.
Box score and extended statistics from TheAHL.com.
It was Bear hunting season tonight at Scope.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the win. With Curtis McElhinney plucked away by Ottawa on waivers, the number one job in Norfolk is now Tokarski's, unless Cedrick Desjardins finds a way to return from injury. Tonight was a good opening statement for Tic.
HER Pinizzotto, (16) (Willsie, Greentree), 7:44
NOR Ritola, (1) (Fornataro, Tokarski), 12:51
NOR Jones, (19) (Vernace, Szczechura), 9:05 (PP)
NOR Jones, (20) (Pouliot, Milam), 9:41
NOR Pouliot, (18) (Milam, Harju), 19:55 (PP)
NOR Durno, (15) (Angelidis, Wright), 0:32
NOR Ritola, (2) (Pouliot, Gudas), 13:17
Blair Jones, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, and Mattias Ritola were the game's three stars. Jones became the first Admiral to hit 20 goals this season, matching his career high set two years ago. Difference is: his 20 goals in 2008-2009 came in 80 games and was largely the product of Jones playing a lot of point on the power play. He reached that threshold in 47 games this season and has developed into a far more well-rounded player. Ritola scored his first 2 goals as an Admiral and now has 11 points in his first 9 games with the club.
With Chris Durno scoring his 15th goal tonight, the Admirals now have 6 players with 15 or more goals: Pouliot, Jones, Johan Harju, Matt Fornataro, Durno, and Mike Angelidis. Entering the year, it appeared the formula for success in Norfolk would involve having multiple scorers chasing around 20 goals without pure snipers like the departed Brandon Bochenski. It certainly appears that formula has been followed so far.
With the win, Norfolk seized 4th in the East Division outright over Binghamton by 2 points, while still holding 1 game in hand. They also burned a game in hand on Charlotte and are now 3 points back of 3rd place with 2 games in hand. They're also now 7 points back of the Bears for 2nd place with 2 games in hand. In the crossover, Norfolk holds an 8 point advantage on the Atlantic's 4th place team, Worcester.
There are 20 games left in the regular season. Norfolk next faces Albany on the road on Friday. They'll face the Bears again this weekend (Saturday) in Hershey and finishes out the week in Binghamton on Sunday. With three games in three nights, it will be interesting to see if and when Coach Cooper starts Jaroslav Janus.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
So close, and yet so far.
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 20 shots for the loss.
HER Collins, (4) (Beagle, Yeo), 14:12
NOR Angelidis, (16) (Quick, Wright), 10:50
HER Aucoin, (15) (Yeo, Greentree), 19:42
Mike Angelidis was the game's third star.
Norfolk outshot Hershey 30-20, but journeyman Todd Ford stopped 29 shots for the win.
The tight loss drops Norfolk 7 points behind 2nd place Hershey. Fortunately for the Admirals, Charlotte lost to Albany tonight, so they remain 1 point back of 3rd place. However, they now find themselves in a spot they didn't want to be in, having squandered a game in hand and holding just a 3 point lead over 5th place Binghamton. That means Norfolk, which was robbed blind a season go, could find themselves praying the crossover delivers them to the playoffs this year. If Norfolk were to finish in 5th in the East Division, but have more points that the 4th place team in the Atlantic, they would crossover and likely draw either Manchester or Portland in the opening round. Currently, the Admirals hold a 7 point lead over Worcester, which is in 4th in the Atlantic. However, the Sharks do hold 3 games in hand.
26 games remain in the regular season. Norfolk plays East Division 1st place team Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday at Scope.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Admirals finally cracked the Joel Martin code.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 19 shots for the win.
BRI Figren, (11) (Katic, Wishart), 6:32 (PP)
NOR Angelidis, (14) (Pouliot, Vernace), 1:21
BRI Motherwell, (3) (Katic, Figren), 12:53 (PP)
NOR Durno, (12) (Gudas, Fornataro), 15:20
NOR Durno, (13) (Harju), 18:51
Norfolk outshot Bridgeport a stunning 51-19 in the contest, but it wasn't until Johan Harju set up Durno for the game winning goal with 1:09 left that the Admirals finally claimed their first lead of the night.
Radko Gudas was a team high +3 to go along with an assist on Durno's first goal. Gudas, Durno, and Angelidis are all now +17 for the season, one plus behind Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Robert Bortuzzo for the league lead.
Credit to General Manager Julien BriseBois for signing Angelidis. Through 40 games this season, Angelidis' 24 points already match his season total in 67 games last year.
Norfolk's victory moves them back into a tie with idle Charlotte for second place in the East Division. At the season's halfway mark, Norfolk is on a pace for 42 wins and 102 points, and they're also on a pace to score 292 goals, as well. Norfolk's AHL record season, while an affiliate of the Blackhawks, saw them score 301 goals in 2006-2007 en route to earning 108 points. So, this version of the Norfolk Admirals has a chance to be one of the best, if not the best, in team history.
Box score from TheAHL.com.