Norfolk Admirals

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-7-12 Admirals at Marlies Game Three

The hockey gods have spoken.

NOR-1
TOR-0 (OT)

Norfolk Leads the Series 3-0

Dustin Tokarski stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout victory, his 3rd of the postseason. He had long stretches of inactivity and then had to deal with some difficult chances, because a lot of what Toronto does is below the goal line using their size. He's now 11-2-0 with 3 shutouts, a 1.49 GAA, and a .944 save percentage in the postseason. The big thing is, he's gotten better as the games have gotten bigger. He's only allowed 5 goals in the 7 games, thus far, of the Eastern Conference Finals and Calder Cup Finals. The defense in front of him has been exemplary, but he's made big saves when necessary.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NOR Kostka, (4) , 9:09

Mike Kostka and Tokarski were the game's second and third stars.

I could live another 100 years and I'll never see another game that important end on a play that fluky. You just witnessed once-in-a-lifetime, folks. For those who didn't see it, Mike Kostka tried to make a dump-in from the red line that hopped off the right wing boards in the Toronto zone, Scrivens departed his net to try to play the puck behind his cage, and the puck took a weird bounce straight off the glass and made a bee line right into the net. Unbelievable. Norfolk deserved to win this game. They hit three posts (actually four, because TJ had a double-poster) and really had Toronto on their heels most of the contest. But it almost seems like stealing to win it this way. Clearly, the hockey gods have selected their club in this series. When things like that happen, it's hard not to think you have the mantle of team of destiny.

I was really impressed by the play of Richard Panik tonight, as well as Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat. The future is bright.

Norfolk goes for the Cup clincher Saturday at 3 pm. As with tonight, all games from here on out will be televised on CBS Sports Network from the LeafsTV feed. If there's a Game Five, it'll be Sunday at 3 pm. At this stage, as deflating as that loss must've been for the Marlies, I would be surprised if there's another game in Norfolk this season.

I think you're going to see Norfolk stamp its claim as one of the greatest single season teams ever in AHL history this weekend. Ever. Between the regular season streak and the way they've been so good defensively in the postseason and, so far, unblemished in the Eastern Conference Finals and Calder Cup Finals, they belong in the conversation. On paper, you'd probably have to say that Hershey team from a couple of years ago is the front runner for that title, but this Admirals team has done/is doing some things not even that loaded Bears team could do. It's going to be interesting to see how this group gets put in historical perspective.

Note, the mere fact I just typed that considering Jon Cooper's only in his second year as a professional coach and there were 6 rookies in the lineup tonight for Norfolk, many of which were Norfolk's best players, speaks volumes about how special this group is and how exciting the coming years are going to be for Lightning fans as these young men continue to grow up and make their bids to be NHLers. Imagine, these guys are going to be added to the likes of Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. Kind of makes you smile inside, doesn't it?

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Prospect of the Week (6.5.12)

This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions.

We wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospect’s achievement on the ice.

This week’s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to … Dustin Tokarski, Norfolk Admirals (AHL).

Tokarski is the Star of the Week for the second time in the last three weeks after the goaltender backstopped the Norfolk Admirals to a 2-0 lead over Toronto in the Calder Cup finals last weekend.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-2-12 Marlies at Admirals Game Two

Once again, Norfolk finds themselves playing with the house's money as they head out for the road portion of this series.

TOR-2
NOR-4

Norfolk Leads the Series 2-0

Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the victory. It's the first time since the Connecticut series in the Eastern Conference Semis that the Admirals allowed more than 1 goal in a game, and Toronto's second goal came late in the Third Period in garbage time after falling 3 goals behind.

First Period
NOR Panik, (4) (Oberg), 14:38
TOR Colborne, (2) (Gardiner, Lashoff), 18:20 (PP)

Second Period
NOR Picard, (9) (Angelidis, Oberg), 15:17

Third Period
NOR Segal, (5) (Angelidis, Aulie), 8:26
NOR Smith, (5) (Panik, Aulie), 15:52
TOR Mikus, (1) (Ashton, Dupuis), 19:17

Mike Angelidis, Richard Panik, and Tokarski were the game's three stars. Of note: it's an almost completely fresh slate of offensive heroes for Norfolk in this game. Panik attack, y'all.

The one constant through two games has been the goal scoring exploits of Brandon Segal, A Dangerous Man.

The 2-3-2 playoff format stinks if you stub your toe as the home team in the first 2 games. But, if you hold serve, you're in excellent position. All Norfolk has to do is win 1 of 3 on the road to guarantee 2 shots at hoisting the trophy on home ice. I would have to like the Admirals' odds in that scenario. Beat Toronto twice and you get to skate the trophy in their barn, giving Don Cherry a mild stroke in the process.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-1-12 Marlies at Admirals Game One

Stat of the night: the winner of Game One in the Calder Cup Finals has gone on to hoist the championship 74.9% of the time.

TOR-1
NOR-3

Norfolk Leads the Series 1-0

Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 24 shots for the victory. He came within an eyelash of setting an all-time AHL playoff shutout streak record. Norfolk's playing a championship brand of defense right now. They're not allowing a lot of chances and the few times they do, they're getting the timely save from Tic. If they keep playing defense like they have since they tightened up at the end of the Connecticut series in the Eastern Semis, it's hard to imagine they can lose a 7 game series.

First Period
NOR Conacher, (2) (Johnson, Oberg), 12:21

Second Period
NOR Johnson, (4) (Barberio, Conacher), 10:03 (PP)

Third Period
TOR Ashton, (1) (Scott, Gardiner), 3:57
NOR Segal, (4) (Smith, Gudas), 19:31 (EN)

Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. When the chips are down, you need your best players to be your best players. Conacher was the best player in the league the first half of the AHL regular season and TJ was probably the best in the second half, but neither has really had a dominant playoffs. Tonight they stepped up at the time when they were needed to put their club over the top.

Brandon Segal, with the empty netter, threw the Kill Switch on Toronto's Game One comeback hopes.

Looking deeper into the box score there's some interesting nuggets to consider going into Game Two. Norfolk outshot Toronto a very impressive 42-24 in the game, as Toronto struggled with the speed and tenacity that have really been the cornerstones of Norfolk's game this year. But, Norfolk allowed Toronto 10 power plays to the Admirals' 5, which is unacceptable. Then again, that kind of puts the quality of Norfolk's night defensively into even better perspective. If you allow an 10-5 PP disparity and still outshoot your opponents 42-24, that says something.

I suspect Norfolk wanted to set a tone with the machismo tonight against a Brian Burke led Toronto organization that prides themselves on being able to bloody their opponents' noses. Norfolk does have some guys on their roster who are speedsters who are on the slight side, and an uninformed scouting report might say to try to push them around. This Admirals team has relished the physical challenge all year, though. They don't care if the Marlies have Don Cherry's endorsement, and while they do have a few guys who are small speedsters with skill, it would be incredibly foolish to think they can't handle their business when called upon. They've got jam in every flavor. Norfolk probably got a little overzealous in that respect, though, and I suspect that, with the point proven, Jon Cooper's going to reel his boys in. Tomorrow night's going to be a huge game for Norfolk, because you want to head into Toronto with the luxury of really only having to win 1 of 3 in Toronto before, if necessary, going back to Scope for Game Six and Game Seven. They can make their lives a lot easier and go a long way toward finishing the drill, overall, by focusing in and getting this big Game Two "W" tomorrow night.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Prospect of the Week (5.23.12)

This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions.

We wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospect’s achievement on the ice.

This week’s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to … Dustin Tokarski, G, Norfolk Admirals (AHL).

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