And the legend of Alex Killorn is born...
Norfolk Wins the Series 3-1
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 25 shots for the victory. He wasn't as on it tonight as he was in Game Three, but he was able to stay sharp enough in a game where he didn't see a ton of shots.
MCH Azevedo, (1) , 0:38
NOR Oberg, (1) (Killorn, Picard), 7:18
MCH Mullen, (1) (Kozun, O'Neill), 11:18
MCH Andreoff, (2) (Hickey, Vey), 15:37 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (2) (Conacher, Ouellet), 16:58 (PP)
NOR Smith, (2) (Gudas), 17:14
NOR Killorn, (1) (Picard), 13:27
Killorn and Trevor Smith were the game's first and third stars. Killorn just looks like an NHLer. He plays a good north-south game. Skates well. Wins battles. Goes to the high-traffic areas. Backchecks hard. He's as honest a player as he is talented, and he just had a great first playoff round in his professional career. He had 2 goals and 6 points in his first 10 professional regular season games, and he just matched that point total with 1 goal and 6 points in his first 4 professional playoff games.
Norfolk has 3 days to rest and, we hope, get healthy, before they move into the next round against the 6th seed, the Connecticut Whale, on Wednesday. Connecticut swept Bridgeport in the opening round and will be coming to Norfolk for Game One and Game Two in a 2-3-2 playoff format. However, of interest, Game Five (if necessary) will be played in Bridgeport and not Hartford. How interesting that a scheduling conflict works in Norfolk's favor in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Admirals swept the Whale during the regular season 4-0, with 3 regulation victories and 1 shootout win.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Admirals win the battle. War of attrition continues.
Norfolk Leads the Series 2-1
Dustin Tokarski stopped 25 of 27 shots for the victory, including turning away 4 shorthanded breakaways. He was a difference maker tonight.
NOR Segal, (1) (Oberg, Killorn), 0:35
NOR Labrie, (1) (Smith, Conacher), 7:40
MCH Czarnik, (2) (Vey, Mullen), 11:06
NOR Devos, (1) (Kostka, Smith), 4:31
MCH Legein, (2) (Vey, Kolomatis), 12:51
NOR Picard, (4) (Conacher, Smith), 14:45 (PP)
NOR Segal, (2) (Killorn, Picard), 18:32 (EN)
Phillip-Michael Devos and Trevor Smith were the game's first and second stars.
Brandon Segal scored the game's opening goal, and then an empty netter to ensure that for Manchester the game was Out of Reach. His linemate, Alex Killorn has 4 points in his first 3 AHL playoff games.
Alexandre Picard, who only had 6 goals the entire regular season, has 4 goals in the first 3 games of the playoffs. Make it so, Number Nine.
Kidding aside, Mark Barberio had to leave the game in the Third Period after a Stefan Legein boarding major. Possible concussion. Norfolk can't afford to let Manchester stick around in this series, because Manchester's managed to injure 2 of Norfolk's best players in the first 3 games of this series. Tyler Johnson went out with the old upper-body injury in Game One. The playoffs are a war of attrition, and staying healthy is perhaps the biggest key to success for Norfolk. They need to put Manchester away in Game Four on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
All good things...
Series Tied 1-1
Jaroslav Janus allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss. None of the 4 goals he allowed were particularly terrible. However, he didn't seem to react well to getting bumped around 2-3 times early and he seemed a little bit scrambled and out of control at times. Cooper stuck to his plan and stayed with Janus after the win despite the soft goal he allowed in Game One, but with the loss, one would expect Dustin Tokarski to be in as the series switches to Manchester.
MCH Vey, (1) (Hickey), 11:23
MCH Kozun, (1) (Kaunisto, Hunter), 17:12
NOR Picard, (2) (Segal, Killorn), 5:10
NOR Picard, (3) (Dimmen, Killorn), 10:02
MCH Czarnik, (1) (Vey, Hickey), 5:28
MCH Vey, (2) , 16:16
MCH Andreoff, (1) (Muzzin), 17:59
Alexandre Picard was the game's third star.
It was another uneven effort by the Admirals, made worse by the loss of Tyler Johnson who was out of the lineup with an injury suffered in the last game. Norfolk again was flat in the first period and tonight they paid for it. They fell behind 2-0 before a sweeping comeback in the Second Period where they outshot Manchester 22-10. But, they couldn't keep the pace up, and Manchester got the key go-ahead goal and then caught the Admirals pressing for the tying goal.
Now Norfolk falls squarely behind the eight-ball, needing to win 2 of 3 on the road in Manchester to survive the Quarterfinals. From what little I know of Johnson's injury, I'm not sure he'll be available, but they'll presumably get Radko Gudas back from illness. It's a hard hill to climb now, though, and a nightmare scenario I did not want to see this team face when the initial schedule of the series was announced. All hands will need to be on deck Wednesday for Game Three.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk pours it on in the second and hangs on in the third to break the seal on their 2012 AHL playoff run.
Norfolk Leads the Series 1-0
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. He got the surprise start after Dustin Tokarski missed a couple of practices with illness this week. Janus played well up until allowing a very soft goal in the third that gave Manchester life. I would not be completely surprised to see Tic in Game Two.
NOR Barberio, (1) (Picard), 6:39
NOR Picard, (1) (Smith, Conacher), 1:42 (PP)
NOR Smith, (1) (Oberg, Kostka), 3:39 (PP)
MCH Legein, (1) (Azevedo), 9:53 (SH)
MCH Cliche, (1) (Hickey, Mullen), 13:57
Really a scary finish for the Admirals, having to fend off a 6-on-4 situation to preserve the win. Hopefully they learned a couple of lessons tonight. They took their foot off the gas at times in the third and paid a price for it. Also, they need to respect their opponent going into a critical Game Two tomorrow. Manchester's not going to lay down.
For those wondering, Radko Gudas also missed practice time this week with illness and was also scratched.
Mike Angelidis returned to the lineup after missing several weeks with a broken finger.
Also, if you were wondering, although the streak is technically shelved, we could call this win number Alex Selivanov.
Tomorrow night's game is really, really big. I'd go so far as to say Norfolk should approach it as a must-win. Knowing the next 3 games are in Manchester, it was very important for them to hold serve tonight, which they did. The other half of the equation is to get it done tomorrow night. And, they can't play like they did tonight. They were flat in the First Period and were only leading thanks to a pretty soft goal allowed by Zatkoff to Barberio. They need to play with the pace they had in the Second Period for a full 60 minutes. They dominated the middle frame and chased Zatkoff, bringing in Martin Jones for Manchester, who played very well. The stakes have been raised, even despite the victory, and I don't think Jon Cooper's going to be terribly pleased with all the tape from tonight's contest.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Controversially, Norfolk gets to Marc Bureau (#28) to conclude the regular season.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 19 shots for his 15th consecutive victory. He'll finish the season tied for 8th in the AHL in victories with 23 and tops on the Admrials with a .914 save percentage, one point better than tandem-mate Dustin Tokarski and his .913 mark. Tokarski finishes with a league leading 32 wins, for his part. It's never a bad thing when you have 2 goalies in the top-10 in the league in wins.
ADK Holmstrom, (15) (Manning, Gustafsson), 2:19 (PP)
NOR Segal, (18) (Smith, Conacher), 15:30
NOR Conacher, (37) (Segal), 17:27
ADK Akeson, (14) (Testwuide), 12:15
NOR Conacher, (38) (Segal, Smith), 18:00
NOR Conacher, (39) (Segal), 19:58 (EN)
Why controversial, you ask? With 14 seconds remaining in the final frame, Adirondack had a goal waved off for goaltender interference after defenseman Keith Aulie got beat wide by the Phantoms' Mike Testuwide, a sin he committed far too often earlier this season with the Lightning. Norfolk dodged a big bullet with the wave off to secure their 28th consecutive victory, much to the chagrin of the Phantoms and their fans. In fairness to Aulie, Adirondack would have never been that close were it not for a horrendous turnover by Tyler Johnson that allowed Adirondack to score their second goal. Heading into the playoffs, everyone's got to tighten up that much more.
There's one more bit of regular season business to wrap up now. With Cory Conacher scoring his first professional hat trick, he has moved out to a 2 goal lead over Texas' Matt Fraser for the Willie Marshall Award, the AHL's equivalent of the Rocket Richard Trophy. Conacher entered the day 1 goal behind Fraser, and was actually benched again today, momentarily, after taking a delay-of-game minor. Once he got back on the ice again, though, he and linemate Brandon Segal made sure that their efforts in the Admirals' final regular season game would leave some Exit Wounds. As of this posting, Fraser has just about 15 minutes left to try and score 2 goals to get back even with Conacher, who picked just the right time to get back on track offensively.
Richard Panik failed to score a goal in his final 7 games of the regular season, leaving him 1 shy of a 20 goal rookie campaign. It's just about the only goal, personal or team, that someone on the Admirals didn't manage to accomplish, although Conacher's hat trick did leave him 1 shy of 40, in retrospect.
Norfolk now draws the Manchester Monarchs in the first round of the playoffs, beginning next Friday with Game One. Because of a scheduling conflict with an annual military drill and band show, the Admirals won't have home ice advantage for the best-of-five series despite finishing 30 points ahead of the Monarchs in the standings. Norfolk and Manchester haven't played all season, and in the playoffs just as in boxing, styles make the fight, so we'll see how these two teams match up. Manchester is veteran laden, but is missing a couple of good younger players that are currently up with the LA Kings for their playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks. I think the lack of familiarity may play in the Admirals' favor, as Manchester is a little bit older and hasn't seen the speed that Norfolk brings to the rink both with their skating and the transition game that guys like Mark Barberio and Mike Kostka start from the blueline, but you never know until the game gets onto the ice. With so many rookies contributing to Norfolk's success that have never seen professional playoff hockey, we don't know how they'll react to the pressure, especially in a nightmare scenario if Manchester can pick off one of the first two games at Scope.
It's critically important that the Admirals set the 28 game regular season streak aside and focus on the fact they desperately need to set the tone quickly and win Game One and Game Two in Norfolk. Fortunately, the Admirals have the AHL Coach of the Year, Jon Cooper, to get them refocused for the postseason. The Admirals also got Jon Kalinski back in the lineup this weekend, and the expectation is that Mike Angelidis will be back next weekend for the club. So, other than Richard Petiot, Norfolk looks to be almost completely healthy heading into the looming war of attrition that is professional playoff hockey.
Box score from TheAHL.com.