It took a bit longer than usual, but it's David Shaw in overtime! #27!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 24 shots including a ten bell save in overtime to get his 13th straight victory. He now is unlikely to best his .915 (currently .913) rookie save percentage, but he's improved his career marks in every other major statistical category this year, and his 32 wins are a lock now to be the best in the AHL.
NOR Conacher, (36) (Killorn), 19:24
BNG Hoffman, (21) (Gryba, Dziurzynski), 15:17 (PP)
BNG Puempel, (1) (Conboy), 17:13
NOR Killorn, (2) (Oberg, Kostka), 13:21 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (14) (Kostka), 2:04 (PP)
It's been interesting with all the hardware being thrown in Norfolk's direction to players like Cory Conacher and Mark Barberio how there's been a little unstated internal pressure here at Bolt Prospects to reassess the situation at the top of our prospect rankings. Now, there's no doubt that Conacher and Barberio are fantastic players, but a night like tonight shows what Alex Killorn brings to the table. As expected, he's getting more comfortable with his teammates, and he was the best Admiral on the ice tonight. He made a great play to set up Conacher on the Admirals' first goal (no-look, behind-the-back, Harlem Globetrotters type stuff), and with Conacher sitting for what appeared to be disciplinary reasons from late in the second period on, Killorn played a ton during Norfolk's successful comeback bid. His power play goal was another Killorn classic, where he used his speed down the wing to blaze around the corner and then deked to his backhand to finally penetrate the forcefield that McKenna seemed to have up behind him. Point being, Killorn belongs in the same sentence with those players. When you consider this is just his 9th pro game, the fact he can already dominate a night like this is impressive. With the playoffs yet to go, look for him to put up a strong defense of his spot on the rankings. I'm really looking forward to it.
Should we be concerned it took the Admirals putting forth this much effort to put away the league's worst team, Bingo? No. This was the Senators' last game of the season, and they had nothing else to play for. This was Game Seven of the Stanley Cup and the Super Bowl all wrapped into one for them, and the Ads still outshot them 49-24. Only McKenna's brilliance kept this from being a slaughter.
Norfolk finishes their regular season tomorrow night against Adirondack, which was eliminated from playoff contention earlier today. That leaves 3 teams vying for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference: Portland, Syracuse, and Manchester. The plot thickens for all three teams after today's results. Manchester beat the paste out of Hershey 5-1, moving them into a tie with idle Portland at 81 points. Syracuse was embroiled in a struggle with Connecticut, but they managed to sneak by in the shootout. So here's the state of play heading into tomorrow's deciding games. Syracuse holds 7th at 82 points. They control their destiny. Manchester holds 8th because while both Manchester and Portland have 81 points, Manchester leads in ROW by 2 over both Syracuse and Portland. That means the Monarchs win any tiebreaker against both teams. Portland sits in 9th. Manchester draws the toughest opponent tomorrow in 2nd place St. John's. Portland gets 12th place Providence. Syracuse gets 14th place Albany. Throw the records out in a situation like this though. Norfolk draws the 8th seed when the dust settles tomorrow.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
And the streak reaches Rudy Poeschek.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 38 shots for the victory. He raised his save percentage to .908 and posted his 9th straight win and 28th overall for the season in his first start back from Tampa Bay. Looked like a standard Dustin Tokarski effort to me. He'll be tough on himself even though the first goal was on a breakaway, the second one appeared to go through him on a one-timer, and the third was off a rebound he might want back. But, in general, his movement and positioning was pretty well spot on and he made the key saves he needed to to get the win. Classic Tic.
NOR Palat, (7) , 1:00
ALB Zharkov, (15) , 13:29 (SH)
ALB Tedenby, (4) (Gelinas, Whitney), 8:42 (PP)
NOR Killorn, (1) (Conacher, Devos), 15:02
NOR Johnson, (29) (Panik, Barberio), 1:06
NOR Picard, (6) (Palat, Kostka), 13:55
ALB Anderson, (10) (Mills, Harrold), 18:39
Johnson's got goals in 9 straight games and is now 1 shy of a 30 goal rookie season.
I watched tonight's game specifically to see how Killorn is fitting in, and the answer is: seamlessly. They've put him on what I would classify their second line with Conacher and Devos, and he doesn't get lost in the wash. He's assertive and he's noticeable. He's playing a nice, simple north-south game down the wing with speed and shooting it every chance he gets. He tied for the team lead in shots last night and he did so again tonight. He's also sticking his nose in on the wall and he got his first pro goal tonight by going to the front of the net to the danger zone. He found an open path to the cage laterally from the left wing board down low along the goal line, and Conacher hit him with a nice feed, and then he made a pretty little finish switching forehand to backhand in tight with a d-man coming down on him. I'm looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks in the playoffs once he gets better accustomed to his teammates and we see more of the playmaking side of his game, too, but there was nothing tonight that I saw that made me believe we have made any mistakes ranking him so highly on this website. He's the real thing, and I think his effectiveness on each shift may be helped by the fact he's not going to have to log 20-25 minutes a night like he did for Harvard. He's also come to the right place to develop in a hurry playing for the Rookie Whisperer, Jon Cooper. Tonight, 3 of the 4 goals were scored by rookies, which has been the norm for much of this streak. Just add Killorn to the list.
Palat is playing on what is Norfolk's top line right now with Johnson and Richard Panik, and what I really have been shocked by is the development of Palat physically over the course of the last year. This isn't a guy who believes corners are only for bus stops and mail boxes anymore. This guy digs, and despite his size, he wins his fair share of battles. When you couple that with his playmaking abilities, you have yourself a player.
The most impressive prospect tonight, to me, was Panik, though. I am giddy at the development of Panik over the past few months. He wasn't perfect tonight in the sequence that led up to Albany's extra-attacker goal, but put that aside, and the tape of this game and the Admiral's win in the second game a week ago against Charlotte will show you just what a dynamic all-around player he has become in a short time. Last week was the dazzling between the legs goal and the hands. If you watch him, he's like guys like Lecavalier in that he'll try to do some really creative things that most players won't attempt in pro hockey, because he can. He did that once or twice tonight too on plays where he tried some setups that just missed clicking. Also, tonight, you saw the power game out of Panik. The turnover on Palat's goal was the direct result of Richard coming to destroy someone on a hit, and later in the game he absolutely killed Vladimir Zharkov finishing off a clean check that clearly dinged up Zharkov. The Panik attack is continuing to evolve, and whereas a month ago you might have been able to dismiss him as a guy who was living off the power play, right now he's playing the kind of game that projects well in all phases. Heck, Cooper's even using him with Conacher on the PK, and he's doing a really good job with that, too. If he continues to work as hard as he has been over the past little bit, the sky is the limit for this young man. He could be an All-Star caliber NHL player if he keeps his head and his heart in it. Remember, a year before his entry draft, Panik was projected as a top-10 pick before the bottom fell out due to some things that were beyond his control (limited ice time for his Czech Extraliga club) and some that were in his control (not training like a professional). So, the talent is there, and God bless Jon Cooper for reaching Panik and getting him on track.
Norfolk's win is it's 20th in a row (hence the Rudy Poeschek reference), and thanks to St. John's and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton going head-to-head tonight, a win tonight was going to help one of their magic numbers. Because the IceCaps knocked off the Penguins 2-0, Norfolk moves their division lead out to 14 points with the Pens holding 1 game in hand. So, with 8 games left in the regular season, the magic number for the division is close at hand (4 points, assuming the Admirals manage at least 1 more regulation/OT win). They also maintained an 11 point gap in the conference on St. John's, with the IceCaps holding 2 games in hand. So the Admirals have a magic number for the conference of about 10 points (ties get complicated, of course). Wednesday, St. John's comes to Norfolk to start a 2 game set with the Admirals, so winning those games will whittle that magic number down for the conference in a hurry, and by this time next Friday, the Admirals could have a lot of things effectively wrapped up, if they can keep on this streak another couple of games.
For those wondering, the team also holds a 6 point lead on Oklahoma City for the best mark in the AHL, with the Ads surrendering 1 game in hand. So, the magic number for home ice throughout the playoffs would be at about 13 points right now (again, ties get complicated).
Box score from TheAHL.com.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Alex Killorn to a two-year, two-way contract, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Yzerman also announced today that the Club has signed goaltender Sebastien Caron to a one-year, one-way contract. Caron will be placed on waivers today and would clear tomorrow at noon.
Killorn, 22, played in 34 games with Harvard University this season, recording 23 goals and 46 points to go along with 47 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1, 197-pound forward ranked first on Harvard in goals and points and was second in assists. Killorn ranked third in the Eastern College Athletic Conference in goals and was fourth in points. He was named to the 2012 ECAC First Team All-League and was a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the nationâ€™s top collegiate player.
The Halifax, Nova Scotia native has skated in 130 career games with Harvard over the past four seasons, recording 53 goals and 109 points to go along with 155 penalty minutes. He is the first Harvard player to record 50 goals in his collegiate career since 2004.
The Lightning selected Killorn in the third round, 107th overall, at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Colgate Raiders 0 @ No. 13 Cornell Big Red 3
D/W Kirill Gotovets, COR: 0-0-0, , 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 22 GP, 1-6-7, +13, 12 PIM
Gotovets was back on defense after playing forward in Cornellâ€™s semifinal loss to Harvard on Friday. He registered one shot on goal as Cornell took the Consolation Game win in Atlantic City.
No. 19 Harvard Crimson 1 @ Union Dutchmen 3
F Alex Killorn, HAR: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Season totals: 34GP, 23-23-46, +13, 47 PIMs
In what was probably his final collegiate game, Alex Killorn scored his teamâ€™s only goal and led the Crimson with five shots on net, but Harvard lost to Union 3-1 in the ECAC Championship Game. It was Unionâ€™s first ECAC title. Any slim shot Harvard had at getting an invitation to the big dance went by the wayside when Union and Western Michigan both got automatic bids. Killorn came back to school for his senior year to do just this â€“ have a strong offensive campaign and lead his team to new heights. Hopefully he holds his head high. The Killorn contract watch now begins, as heâ€™s a lock to sign his name on the dotted line with the Lightning. Itâ€™s just a matter of when.
No. 7 Miami RedHawks 4 vs. Bowling Green Falcons 1
F Jimmy Mullin, MIA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 35 GP, 11-15-26, +17, 10 PIM
After a tough loss to Western Michigan in the semifinals Friday, Miami defeated upstart Bowling Green in the CCHA Consolation Game. Miami is a lock for the national tournament and will await their seeding on Sunday.
Note: Brendan Oâ€™Donnell (North Dakota) is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. North Dakota won their third straight WCHA tournament championship.
No. 3 Michigan Wolverines 2 vs. No. 14 Western Michigan Broncos 3
D Luke Witkowski, WMU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 39 GP, 2-11-13, +8, 47 PIM
Fear the beard. Witkowski and Western Michigan won their first CCHA tournament title since 1986 as they held on to beat Michigan, 3-2. Witkowski was strong all night with his partner, free agent Dan DeKeyser. Witkowskiâ€™s dump-in and the hybrid icing rule led to the eventual game-winning goal, scored in the closing minutes of the second period. Witkowski, who came into the game with seven points in his last eight games, was beaten one-on-one for Michiganâ€™s first goal, which came while WMU was on the power play, but was strong in his own zone as the Broncos killed off a five-minute major penalty that ended with three minutes to go. He was very poised and strong on the puck in his own end, and at one point in the final minute enabled a clear when he beat two Wolverines to a loose puck while he was on his knees after breaking up the previous play. During the broadcast, Fox Sports Detroit said WMU coach Andy Murray mentioned that all six WMU defensemen would be back next year. The announcers didnâ€™t seem to put a ton of stock in the comment, but itâ€™s the first indication that DeKeyser â€“ and Witkowski â€“ are staying in school. DeKeyser, who was named to the CCHA All-Tournament team, will be offered a contract from most every NHL team and Witkowski has played well enough to start a contract conversation among the Lightning brass. Time will tell, but right now Witkowski, his beard â€“ which got a kiss from the Broncos backup goaltender during the celebration, and WMU will wait and see what damage they can do in the national tournament. They earned an automatic bid with the tournament championship. (Luke's photo from his Twitter feed, @LWitko28)
*USCHO poll used
No. 19 Harvard Crimson 6 @ No. 13 Cornell Big Red 1
Killorn and Harvard continued their magical run, beating the favored Big Red 6-1 on Friday to earn a trip to the ECAC finals against top-seeded Union. Harvard scored the gameâ€™s first six goals, with Killorn getting numbers two and five. Cornell added a late goal. Lightning prospect Kirill Gotovets spent time at wing, which he has done a handful of times this year. Harvard has to beat Union on Saturday to get into the national tournament. Cornell, who will play in the Third Place Game on Saturday, is considered on the bubble.
No. 7 Miami RedHawks 2 vs. No. 14 Western Michigan Broncos 6
Witkowski logged a ton of minutes and for a moment or two had was credited with an important goal for WMU as the Broncos upset Miami to advance to the CCHA Finals against Michigan, who beat Cinderella Bowling Green in double overtime. Witkowski took a feed in the high slot while on the power play, skated a couple of strides, and fired a low wrist shot that found its way to the twine but it was later ruled to have hit the shaft of the stick of teammate Will Kessel (undrafted). Witkowski and defensive partner Dan DeKeyser, a free agent target of the Lightning, played nearly every key shift in the game for the Broncos and matched-up against Lightning prospect Jimmy Mullinâ€™s high-powered line for much of the game. Mullin created a few scoring chances and had his name announced for an assist on Miami's first goal, but it was later corrected. Mullin was one of the few RedHawks who was generating chances. Mullin will continue his season in Saturday's Third Place Game, then on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa as the RedHawks are considered a lock for an invitation. WMU is on the bubble, but can punch their ticket with a win over the Wolverines at Joe Louis Arena Saturday night.
*USCHO poll used