AHL Game Night: 2-24-10 Admirals at Senators
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.