Norfolk Admirals

Lightning Swap Wright and Vernace for Two Defensemen

The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they have traded Bolt Prospects alumni James Wright and veteran AHLer Mike Vernace to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defensemen Mike Kostka and Evan Oberg.

Kostka (pictured), 26, is a 6'1" 210 pound righty shot defenseman. He played his college hockey with the University of Massachusetts before being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Sabres in 2008. A year ago, Kostka led the Rochester Americans in scoring with 16 goals and 55 points in 80 games. This year, with the San Antonio Rampage, the defenseman has only managed 2 goals and 6 points in 18 games.

Oberg, 23, is a 6'0" 191 pound lefty shot defenseman. He played two seasons for the University of Minnesota before being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Vancouver Canucks in 2009. He recorded no points in his 4 career NHL appearances with the Canucks, and his AHL best season was 2009-2010 with the Manitoba Moose, when he scored 3 goals and 26 points in 70 games. He has just 2 points in 12 games this year for the Rampage.

Wright, 21, surprisingly made the Lightning out of camp in 2009-2010 and played 48 NHL games before being returned to his junior team. Since then, Wright has never returned to the big leagues and he struggled offensively to start this year with just 1 goal and 5 points in 22 games. The 2008 4th round pick had 16 goals and 47 points with Norfolk of the AHL last year, which was his rookie season as a professional. His departure is perhaps the biggest news of today's transaction.

AHL Game Night: 11-29-11 Penguins at Admirals

Number one, with a bullet.

WBS-2
NOR-5

Dustin Tokarski had 16 saves on 18 shots for the win.

First Period
WBS Dimitrakos, (6) (Petersen, Craig), 15:36 (PP)
NOR Angelidis, (5) (Barberio, Vernace), 18:39

Second Period
NOR Jones, (2) (Smith, Barberio), 10:31
WBS Street, (6) (Petersen, Wild), 10:53
NOR Conacher, (11) (Johnson, Jones), 13:56 (PP)

Third Period
NOR Conacher, (12) (Jones, Smith), 8:25 (PP)
NOR Smith, (10) , 19:16 (EN)

Cory Conacher (pictured), Blair Jones, and Trevor Smith were the game's three stars.

Norfolk outshot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 31-18 in the game. Bear in mind, this is a team the Admirals are tied with that they are supposed to be battling tooth and nail for first in the division, and they absolutely blew them off the rink in the second half of the game tonight.

Conacher and Smith are now tied for 4th in the league in scoring at 25 points, 5 points back of perennial AHL world beater Keith Aucoin. Carter Ashton sits tied for 19th in scoring despite a season long 5 game scoreless streak. Conacher and Ashton also are tied for 2nd in the league in goals, as well. Smith is 2nd in +/- at +14, behind Cade Fairchild of Peoria at +16.

Mark Barberio is now 2nd in the league in scoring amongst defensemen, 2 points back of Rockford's Brian Connelly. He's 1 plus behind Smith, tied for 3rd in the league at +13 with, among others, Real Canadian Hero Pierre-Cedric Labrie.

Next up: Adirondack on Friday at Scope.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-26-11 Bruins at Admirals

It's a Panik attack!

PRO-2
NOR-3

Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the win.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
PRO Hennessy, (6) (Arniel, Bartkowski), 11:35
NOR Labrie, (5) (Gudas, Angelidis), 16:32

Third Period
NOR Panik, (3) (Wright, Palat), 9:59
NOR Wright, (1) (Panik, Palat), 12:40
PRO Cunningham, (2) (Bartkowski, Arniel), 19:46

Tokarski, Richard Panik (pictured), and James Wright were the game's three stars.

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.

AHL Game Night: 11-25-11 Bruins at Admirals

Dominant. Dominant. Dominant. Dominant.

PRO-1
NOR-5

Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 18 shots for the victory. If you look up the definition of "light work" you'll see the box score of Tokarski's first two periods in this game. Providence only managed 8 shots (1 every 5 minutes!) in the first two frames. Living the dream.

First Period
NOR Jones, (1) (Fornataro, Conacher), 7:34 (PP)
PRO Tardif, (7) (Camper, Warsofsky), 11:16 (PP)

Second Period
NOR Palat, (1) (Labrie, Vernace), 9:41
NOR Labrie, (4) (Angelidis, Cote), 18:19

Third Period
NOR Gudas, (4) (Smith), 9:00
NOR Wyman, (4) , 18:30 (EN/SH)

Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Real Canadian Hero), Blair Jones, and Ondrej Palat were the game's three stars.

Labrie (pictured) now has 13 points in 19 games and a very nice +13 rating to go with it. There are corpses with better first step acceleration than Labrie, but this guy works his tail off and he contributes in so many different ways.

For Jones and Palat, it's an interesting dichotomy between the return of the Admirals' all-time leading scorer from what may be his last shot in Tampa Bay and the young rookie scoring his first professional goal and just trying to get ice time to climb the ladder. I'm not surprised in the slightest that Jones immediately scored in this game, though. Heck, I wouldn't be shocked if Blair led Norfolk on a very deep playoff run, now, either.

Norfolk outshot Providence by a ridiculous 44-18 margin. Providence may be questioning why they bothered to get off the bus, although the Admirals should recognize by now that beating this team again tomorrow night will be difficult. They'll come out playing with a fire lit under them to try not to get embarrassed again, and there will be a tendency toward complacency that the Admirals will need to fight off.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Bolts Recall Dana Tyrell; Reassign Blair Jones

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned forward Blair Jones to the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. On Wednesday, Yzerman recalled forward Dana Tyrell from the Admirals.

AHL Game Night: 11-23-11 Checkers at Admirals

60 minutes, not 50.

CHA-6
NOR-3

Jaroslav Janus allowed 6 goals on 26 shots for the loss. Ugly.

First Period
NOR Angelidis, (4) (Wyman, Fornataro), 16:06

Second Period
CHA Samson, (8) (Terry, Nash), 3:09 (PP)
NOR Smith, (9) (Landry, Labrie), 3:47
CHA Roy, (2) (Terry, Nash), 5:29 (SH)
CHA Nash, (2) (Samson, Krueger), 17:27

Third Period
NOR Conacher, (10) (Angelidis, Fornataro), 4:28
CHA Samson, (9) (Terry), 10:04 (PP)
CHA Matsumoto, (8) , 10:45
CHA Dalpe, (2) (Matsumoto, Jordan), 17:39 (PP)

3 unanswered goals in the final 10 minutes were the difference... that and being -4 in goal differential on special teams, including allowing a shorthanded goal. That's just inexcusable. That's how you squander a 37-26 shots advantage.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-19-11 Admirals at IceCaps

Should've saved some goals for tonight.

NOR-1
STJ-3

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 25 shots for the loss.

First Period
STJ Holzapfel, (7) (Klingberg, Postma), 2:05 (PP)
STJ Machacek, (3) , 18:02

Second Period
NOR Conacher, (9) , 0:27

Third Period
STJ Murray, (1) (Clark, Albert), 2:18

Cory Conacher, the non-prospect prospect, was the game's third star.

It's just so difficult to beat a team on back-to-back nights, and it sometimes seems to be harder when you dominate them on the first night. Tonight, Peter Mannino had the wall up for the baby Jets, and that was the difference.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-18-11 Admirals at IceCaps

TJ back to early season form.

NOR-6
STJ-2

Jaroslav Janus made 26 saves on 28 shots for the win.

First Period
NOR Ashton, (12) (Fornataro, Johnson), 5:27
STJ Postma, (3) (Machacek, Klingberg), 16:44 (PP)

Second Period
NOR Smith, (7) (Conacher, Dimmen), 1:22
NOR Smith, (8) (Conacher, Landry), 4:32
NOR Angelidis, (3) (Wyman), 11:11

Third Period
STJ Klingberg, (9) (DeSantis), 2:58 (SH)
NOR Johnson, (5) (Ashton, Conacher), 8:14
NOR Johnson, (6) (Barberio, Vernace), 15:35 (PP)

Tyler Johnson and Carter Ashton were the game's first and second stars.

Remember Tyler Johnson (pictured)? He had 6 points in the first 4 games of the season before cooling off with 3 points in the subsequent 11. And then, boom, 3 point night. There's so much depth on the Admirals and it's truly under-appreciated. Trevor Smith has 20 points in the first 17 games this season, and he's barely figured in the three stars discussions in each game. Heck, he's not even the team's leading scorer, because Cory Conacher has 21 points, and he doesn't even have a contract with the Lightning, yet. There's 4 players on the Ads (Conacher, Smith, Ashton, and Mark Barberio) that are currently over a point-a-game. It's impressive.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-12-11 Admirals at Penguins

Norfolk re-finds its offense.

NOR-5
WBS-3

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the victory.

First Period
WBS Williams, (3) (McDonald, Lerg), 1:13
NOR Gudas, (3) (Tyrell, Wyman), 15:01 (SH)

Second Period
WBS Street, (2) (Bortuzzo, Sneep), 0:56 (PP)
WBS Dimitrakos, (4) (Gibbons), 1:52

Third Period
NOR Conacher, (7) (Fornataro, Barberio), 1:56 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (3) (Dimmen, Smith), 8:26 (PP)
NOR Tyrell, (4) (Barberio, Angelidis), 11:23
NOR Conacher, (8) (Dimmen), 19:58 (EN/PP)

Mark Barberio (pictured) and Dana Tyrell were the game's first and second stars.

It took 40 minutes, but the Admirals re-found their offense and their power play, based partly on Barberio's 3-point period. His effort moved him back into the top slot amongst all AHL defensemen in scoring. What's more exceptional, to me, is that he's at 15 points in 14 games. A point-a-game pace is so difficult to maintain at the AHL level, and especially by a defenseman. He had 31 points all of last season, in 68 games. He's pretty much halfway to that mark already.

Tyrell snapped a 5 game scoreless streak with his 3rd multi-point game of the season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-11-11 Admirals at Devils

Keith Kinkaid of Albany continues to torment the Admirals.

NOR-1
ALB-2

Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the loss.

First Period
ALB Gionta, (2) (Wiseman, Corrente), 17:08
ALB Taormina, (3) (Bernier, Berube), 18:24

Second Period
NOR Conacher, (6) (Barberio, Vernace), 16:04 (PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Cory Conacher was the game's third star.

Kinkaid has held the Admirals to 1 goal in his 2 starts against Norfolk so far this year.

It's been an odd week or so for the Admirals, who have seen their shot totals held in check, their chances go down, and their goals scored curtailed significantly. I'm kind of hard pressed to explain it, because the Mattias Ritola sideshow shouldn't have affected the team this way, but it needs to turn around for tomorrow's showdown with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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