Jaroslav the Bear Slayer!
Jaroslav Janus stopped 26 of 27 for the victory, raising his season record against the Hershey Bears to 4-0-1. Janus also raised his season save percentage to .900 in the game, capping a stellar February where he was 4-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and a .932 save percentage.
NOR Conacher, (30) (Johnson, Barberio), 6:20 (PP)
HER Kane, (15) (Eakin, Bourque), 12:56 (PP)
NOR Palat, (5) (Johnson), 14:39
Janus and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and second stars.
Cory Conacher, who may get a Lightning contract as early as tomorrow, notched his 30th goal of his rookie campaign. He's 10 back of the Admirals record, stalking Troy Brouwer.
Yet another 2 point game for Tyler Johnson. Ho hum.
Your Cooper/Flanagan 2012 update: Coach Cooper ran the Admirals' franchise record winning streak to 10 games. Norfolk stretched their division lead to 6 points over the idle Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and they've buried the Bears 10 points back in third place now. They've also built a nice 4 point cushion on St. John's for tops in the Eastern Conference, although St. John's holds 4 games in hand. Friday and Saturday hold a 2 game set for the Admirals against the middling Springfield Falcons.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired defenseman Keith Aulie from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Carter Ashton, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Aulie, 6-foot-6, 217 pounds, has played in 17 games with the Maple Leafs this season, collecting two assists and 16 penalty minutes. Heâ€™s also skated in 23 games with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, recording one assist and 30 penalty minutes.
The Regina, Saskatchewan native has played in 57 career NHL games, recording two goals and four points to go along with 48 penalty minutes. Aulie scored his first career NHL goal last season on March 8 against the NY Islanders.
The 22 year-old has skated in 107 career AHL games with the Marlies and Abbotsford Heat, posting five goals and 16 points. He represented the Marlies at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic in Hershey, PA last season.
He was originally selected by the Calgary Flames at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in the fourth round, 116th overall.
Coach Cooper sets the Admirals record with the team's 9th straight win.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 28 of 30 for his 25th win of the season. He moves one ahead of Ben Bishop, who was traded to the Senators organization today, into the top spot in the AHL in wins, and he has to be the odds on favorite to lead the AHL at season's end after the trade. Even if the Sens leave Bishop in Bingo, Binghamton is dead last in the East Division, so he won't have a very good team in front of him. Tokarski has a 4 win advantage on the next closest goaltenders beyond Bishop. So, it's really his to lose. He's now 7-1-0 in February with 2 shutouts, a 2.00 GAA, and a .926 save percentage, so he certainly should be in line for some award consideration come March 1st, too.
WBS Street, (18) (Grant, Mormina), 12:27 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (9) (Johnson, Segal), 17:02 (PP)
NOR Cote, (1) (Johnson), 4:44
WBS Picard, (4) (Craig, Gibbons), 9:50
NOR Ashton, (19) (Dimmen, Conacher), 17:56 (PP)
Carter Ashton and Jean-Philippe Cote were the game's first and third stars. Alexandre Picard was the game's second star, but it was their Alexandre Picard, the former Lightning defenseman, and not the current Lightning farmhand. Ashton snapped a 9-game goalless streak with the tally, and he's now 1 shy of the 20-goal plateau in his rookie campaign.
With 2 assists today, Tyler Johnson continued his hot February. He's got 3 goals and 11 points in his last 8 games, and he's actually 3 points ahead of Ashton for second among Norfolk rookies behind the uncatchable Cory Conacher.
Glad to see Richard Panik not miss any time after the dirtiness in Hershey yesterday. As I said, that will get cleaned up on Wednesday, I'm sure.
Let me be the first to pronounce Bolt Prospects as the official campaign headquarters for Jon Cooper's (pictured with the Godfather of Lightning hockey) bid for AHL Coach of the Year. 9 straight wins snaps the previous franchise record for the Admirals, and when you consider there's 4 Admirals regulars with Tampa Bay right now due to injuries and trades, you realize how amazing a coaching job he's been doing. The other thing you really have to commend is how he's blended so many rookies into the winning formula. Jeff Dimmen, Ondrej Palat, Panik, Ashton, Johnson, and Conacher: that's 6 rookies he's coached up and worked into the rotation of a team that now is tied for tops in the entire AHL in points. And they're not the only rookies who have contributed. Philip-Michael Devos has also been a regular in this lineup, as well. It's been a remarkable job so far, and Julien BriseBois and Steve Yzerman have every right to break their arms slapping each other on the back for that hire. He's been damned good.
Norfolk now holds a 4 point lead on the Penguins for 1st place in the East Division and an 8 point lead on 3rd place Hershey, with the Bears holding a game in hand. They've also moved into 1st in the Eastern Conference by 2 points over St. John's, although the Ice Caps have a formidable 4 games in hand. For the moment, though, the Admirals are tied for tops in the AHL in points, and are tops in wins, goals, and goal differential (+47!).
Wednesday, they'll have the opportunity to put Hershey firmly behind the 8-ball with a 4-point game at Scope that could allow the Admirals to bury their arch-rivals in a 10-point hole that will be very difficult for Hershey to climb out of. The rest of the week holds a 2-game set on Friday and Saturday against a very mediocre Springfield Falcons team. So, Norfolk's got a big-time opportunity to keep the momentum rolling and really extend their lead in the East Division and start to set their sites higher on being the best team in the Eastern Conference and even the entire AHL. It's really, really exciting times.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Admirals tie a winning streak record from the heady days of Head Coach Jim Johnson. 8 straight wins for Norfolk, even as the Lightning call up several of their players.
Jaroslav Janus stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced for the victory. From the, "no way that can be right," file: Janus (pictured) is 3-0-1 against Hershey this season. Bear in mind Hershey is the second highest scoring team in the AHL behind just Norfolk. And, yet, they tremble before the might and power of Jaroslav Janus between the pipes.
NOR Barberio, (8) (Dimmen, Conacher), 2:21
NOR Ouellet, (11) (Picard, Kostka), 15:58 (PP)
HER Pope, (5) (Mink, Carman), 17:07
HER Bourque, (25) (Eakin, Mink), 0:16 (PP)
NOR Segal, (15) (Ouellet, Picard), 1:29
HER Greentree, (4) (Potulny, Bourque), 13:19 (PP)
NOR Segal, (16) (Barberio, Panik), 16:35 (PP)
After assisting on Segal's game winning goal, prospect Richard Panik took a rather nasty slash to the leg by Kyle Greentree that sent him to the dressing room. Panik attacked, y'all? Expect that issue to be cleaned up Wednesday when the Ads play the Bears for the last time this season.
Defenseman Evan Oberg was a healthy scratch and may be on his way to join the Lightning after Victor Hedman's injury earlier this afternoon. One thing we know, this is a man who will not pull a Nikita Alexeev and miss his flight, if that's the case.
Tonight went as well as possible for the Admirals, as they not only opened up a 6 point lead on the Bears, but with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins losing to Syracuse tonight, they also have moved 2 points ahead of the Penguins to claim uncontested hold of the top spot in the division. They've also tied St. John's for the most points in the Eastern Conference, although the Ice Caps hold 3 games in hand on the Admirals.
Norfolk draws the Pens at the Mohegan Sun Slot Machine Gamble-plex tomorrow, with the opportunity to open up a 4 point lead on the Pens and an 8 point lead on the idle Bears. With a name like the Mohegan Sun Slot Machine Gamble-plex, you know the Admirals will be looking for the pay window.
Box score at TheAHL.com.
Norfolk gels quickly after a slow start in come-from-behind victory.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 35 shots for the win, including a penalty shot top on Andre Petterson. He didn't get a star for his efforts, but he absolutely gave his team a chance to win tonight. Tic moves to 24-11-0 on the season, tying Ben Bishop of Peoria for the league lead in wins with Bishop still in action tonight.
BNG Hoffman, (13) (Locke), 1:34
BNG Klinkhammer, (14) (Petersson, Gryba), 6:42 (PP)
NOR Segal, (14) (Picard, Oberg), 0:15
NOR Oberg, (5) , 6:27 (PP)
NOR Labrie, (13) (Johnson, Conacher), 19:30
Evan Oberg and Pierre-Cedric Labrie were the game's first and second stars. Oberg has 4 goals and 13 points in his last dozen games, and one can only speculate where he'd be in points had he not spent the better part of two months on a plane, waiting for a plane, or getting on and off a plane.
Veteran Brandon Segal (pictured) scored a goal in his first game back with the Admirals since his acquisition from the Blackhawks organization, once again reaffirming that Brandon Segal is Hard to Kill.
10 shots on goal tonight for Tyler Johnson. He didn't find the back of the net, but it darned sure wasn't for the lack of trying. He did get the primary assist on the game winner, though.
With the win, Norfolk moves back into a tie for the East Division lead at 71 points with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. They also hold a 4 point lead now on the third place Hershey Bears with the Pens and Bears having burned all their games in hand, at the moment.
It gets REALLY interesting now. Norfolk goes into Hershey tomorrow night with the opportunity to put the Bears 6 points back, and on Sunday night they'll have a pivotal matchup with the Penguins. Remember, Norfolk would very much prefer to win their division than face the possibility of a 4/5 matchup against the Pens or Bears in the first round. The road to the Calder Cup would be significantly easier for the Ads if they secure the first or second seed in the East.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired a first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft as well as defenseman Sebastien Piche in a three-team trade Wednesday, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. The Lightning traded forward Steve Downie to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey. Tampa Bay then sent Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for their first-round pick and Piche.
The Lightning now have two first-round picks in 2012 along with a maximum of four and a minimum of three selections in the second round.
Piche (pictured), 6-foot, 202 pounds, has played in 42 career AHL games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, recording five points (0-5-5). This season he has played in 22 games, notching three assists. Piche signed with the Red Wings as a free agent on April 12, 2009.
Piche has been assigned to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.
The Lightning also acquired forward Brendon Segal from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Matt Fornataro on Wednesday. Fornataro was on an AHL contract with Norfolk.
Admirals come back to take first place in the East Division.
NOR 3 (SO)
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 21 shots before stopping 7 of 9 in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.
SYR Gordon (1), (Holzapfel, Cumiskey)(PP), 11:36
SYR Gordon (2), (Holzapfel), 0:19
NOR Barberio (7), (Johnson), 7:16
NOR Panik (12), (Palat, Barberio)(PP), 9:02
SYR- Jacques, Holland
NOR- Kostka, Johnson, Ouellet
With under 14 minutes to go, it looked like the Admirals were going to get tripped up again in the back-to-back scenario against the same opponent. It's a challenge NCAA coaches have been fighting against forever, and it's a unique challenge to Norfolk because of the team's geographical location relative to the rest of the league. But then the Admirals came back and did their thing, finally outshooting Syracuse 43-21 and making sure they got the 2 points they needed for the sellout crowd at Scope.
With the Penguins losing to Albany, the Admirals moved out to a 2 point lead in the East Division with the win, and they maintain a 3 point edge on Hershey, as the Bears defeated the Monarchs today. The Penguins do hold 1 game in hand on the Admirals and the Bears hold 2 games in hand. But, for the moment, the Admirals are where they need to be to have the best chance of success heading toward the postseason. Norfolk is off until next Friday, when they start their weekend road swing against Binghamton. They then have critical matchups against Hershey on Saturday and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
And, Nacho kicks the extra point!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 22 shots for the victory. Much like Dwayne Roloson against the Sharks last night, here's a young man who loves his goal support. Despite his ugly save percentage on the night, by collecting his 23rd win of the year, Tic moved back into a tie with Peoria's Ben Bishop for the league lead in wins.
NOR Kostka, (8) (Johnson, Smith), 2:43 (SH)
SYR Holzapfel, (9) (Jacques, Caputi), 5:07 (PP)
SYR McMillan, (8) (Sexton, Carle), 9:37
NOR Johnson, (18) (Conacher, Fornataro), 16:11 (PP)
NOR Picard, (3) (Smith, Palat), 19:16 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (29) (Oberg, Barberio), 5:45
SYR Holzapfel, (10) (Gordon), 5:58
NOR Angelidis, (12) (Kostka), 9:57 (SH)
NOR Smith, (21) (Kostka, Oberg), 12:00 (PP)
NOR Labrie, (12) (Dimmen, Conacher), 13:00
SYR Schofield, (7) (Palmieri), 14:40
Mike Kostka and Trevor Smith were the game's first and second stars. Kostka, for the moment, sits in a tie for 5th amongst all defensemen at 31 points in 48 games. Mark Barberio still paces the field at 43 points in 51 games, and he's opened up a 4 point gap on second place.
Lost in the sizable shadow of Kostka and Barberio, though, has been the play of suitcase virtuoso Evan Oberg (pictured). He now has 16 points in 33 games this season, but the bulk of those points have come recently. He has 10 points in his last 10 contests, which is impressive while pulling dual duty in between his role as the Mayor of Concourse B at Norfolk International Airport.
Ondrej Palat has 5 points in his last 4 games. Impressive, but Tyler Johnson raised Palat with 7 points over the same span. It took nearly 5 months, but Johnson has run down fellow rookie Carter Ashton in both points and goals. The two are now knotted up at 18 goals a piece and TJ's now moved 1 point ahead of Ashton at 35 for the season.
Lapping the entire field of rookies, league-wide, is phenom Cory Conacher. His 29 goals and 60 points are 4th amongst all scorers, and his tally tonight moved him out of a 3-way tie for the top spot in goals. Consider the possibilities, Lightning fans. The organization could have the goal scoring champions at both the NHL and AHL levels in the same season. That's quite the feather in the Lightning's cap.
Norfolk's victory allows them to keep pace with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the top spot in the East Division, and by virtue of Hershey losing a 6-0 decision to Providence, they've opened up a 3 point lead on the third place Bears. Winning the East Division looks like it may be CRITICAL to the Admirals' chances come the playoffs. They want to avoid a possible 4/5 matchup against the Bears or Penguins in the first round and get a less experienced club from the Atlantic or Northeast in the first round, instead.
The Admirals rematch Syracuse tomorrow. As always, we stress how difficult it is to beat the same team on back-to-back nights, especially when you thump them the first night. Let's see if Norfolk has learned that lesson yet.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Dustin Tokarski stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout win. He also stopped a Robert Bortuzzo penalty shot in the third period to keep the bagel on his plate.
Tokarski tied his professional high of 4 shutouts and raised his season save percentage to .906 with the effort. He's 4-1-0 so far this month with 2 shutouts, a 1.60 GAA, and a .938 save percentage. The young man's known for being clutch, and now that the stretch run is starting, it appears Tic Time is, too.
NOR Smith, (20) (Gudas), 0:59 (SH)
NOR Palat, (4) (Cote, Johnson), 17:51
NOR Labrie, (11) (Panik, Palat), 12:57
NOR Johnson, (17) (Barberio, Kostka), 14:38 (PP)
Carter Ashton was stopped by Scott Munroe on a penalty shot of his own in the second period.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie extended his point streak to 6 games, with 4 goals and 7 points over that span. "Nacho" bested his pro career high of 26 points, set last season, with his 27th point on the goal.
With his 1 goal and 1 assist night, Tyler Johnson very quietly moved within 1 goal and 1 point of catching fellow rookie Ashton in those statistical categories. Perhaps Bolt Prospects co-founder Tim Bennett is right that TJ's being unfairly lost in the shuffle this season.
Panik attack, y'all.
Norfolk outshot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 33-24 in the contest.
I want you all to take in the full scope of what the Admirals accomplished tonight. With a tie for first in the East Division on the line, they went into the Penguins' barn and didn't just beat them. No, they humiliated them. They beat them up (35 minutes in penalties for the Ads including 3 fighting majors and 6 roughing minors). They shut them down. They lit them up. There's no silver linings for the Penguins in this game, other than the fact that their 1 game in hand on Norfolk still allows them to be listed as the division leader in the standings.
Norfolk and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are tied at 65 points atop the East Division, each 5 points back of conference leading St. John's. Hershey lurks just 1 point back of the Ads and Pens. Norfolk's 31 wins are third in the AHL behind only Oklahoma City and St. John's, which both have 32. Norfolk returns home on Friday to face Syracuse for a 2 game set. The Crunch are 2 games under .500 and a very distant 4th in the East Division standings.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
With the graduation of Brett Connolly from prospect status, it's finally time to release Bolt Prospects' 2011-2012 Midterm Rankings. While difficult for the Lightning at the NHL level, this season has proven to be incredibly exciting for the development of the team's prospects. The Lightning have never boasted such incredible depth in the system, and that depth extends to overage prospects like Trevor Smith, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, and J.T. Wyman, who have made positive contributions to the big club during injury recalls. The team should also be excited about the performance of AHL signees like Philip-Michael Devos and Cory Conacher, the latter of whom is a lock to earn an NHL entry-level contract from the Lightning very soon.