A brave Norfolk Admirals team has nothing to be ashamed about effort-wise in this playoffs.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Wins the Series 4-2
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 27 shots, including an unsuccessful third period penalty shot by Joe Vitale in the third period. Considering the winning goal was essentially a 3-on-1, there's not much more Tic could've done tonight. He finishes the playoffs with 1 shutout, a 2.20 GAA, and a .924 save percentage, and he looks like a lock to be Norfolk's starter next season. In all likelihood, Cedrick Desjardins will be the backup in Tampa Bay next season, and Tokarski's play down the stretch seems to indicate he's the type of netminder who wants and needs to be the clear cut #1 in order to be at his best after struggling a bit as a tandem starter with Desjardins. He's regained the title of the Lightning's "Goaltender of the Future" and the priority for next season, his third pro season, will be for Tokarski to prove he can be that consistent #1 goalie before potentially moving up to the NHL in the 4th season of his pro career. At least, that seems to be what the plan is for Tic.
WBS Wagner, (1) (Walker, Craig), 2:13 (PP)
WBS Wagner, (2) (Potter, Walker), 3:58 (PP)
WBS Wagner, (3) (Wallace, Potter), 18:36
NOR Pouliot, (4) (Ritola, Vernace), 14:18
NOR Jones, (1) (Ritola, Milam), 16:03 (PP)
WBS Vitale, (2) (Wallace, Collins), 7:23
NOR Wright, (1) (Fornataro, Pouliot), 10:35 (PP)
WBS Wallace, (1) (Vitale, Potter), 18:57 (EN)
WBS Sill, (1) (Strait, Thiessen), 19:21 (EN)
Marc-Antoine Pouliot was the game's third star.
When you consider the Penguins came into this series the best team in the Eastern Conference, and the Admirals had to win their last game just to avoid having to cross over into the Atlantic Division, the Admirals have nothing to feel ashamed of in playing this series so tightly. The hard work and character of this Admirals team is worthy of mention, and the team and organization have come such a long way in 4 seasons since the Lightning started their affiliation with Norfolk.
Coincidentally, the East's crossover team, Binghamton, just knocked off Manchester in Game 7 to advance to the Atlantic Division final against Portland. One wonders what shape a Norfolk/Manchester series might have taken if Norfolk hadn't beaten Connecticut to close the regular season.
The big question now is what this Norfolk Admirals team will look like next season, with several of their older players facing contract decisions and several of the Lightning's best young prospects ticketed for Virginia next season.
Will veterans like Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Chris Durno, Mike Vernace, Mathieu Roy, and Troy Milam be back with the team next year? What about long-time pros like Blair Jones, Mike Angelidis, Mattias Ritola, and Vladimir Mihalik? Mihalik and Ritola just finished their 4th years of pro hockey and Jones and Angelidis finished their 5th. Many of these players will surely have opportunities to play in European leagues next season. We know Johan Harju will, for instance, and the question is whether Johan will stay in North America after a disappointing second half. And will Kevin Quick's time in the Lightning organization be over as well?
Conversely, the Admirals will need to free up spots for several of the Lightning's top prospects. Carter Ashton and Charles Landry have already made appearances for the club this season in the playoffs. Richard Panik and Tyler Johnson seem like locks to be in Norfolk next season, too.
Next season could be a big change for the Admirals organization, as the last vestiges of previous regimes pass on. Change is inevitable for a minor league club, but the Admirals seem destined for even more change than is the norm. The good news is that they seem to have good goaltending locked down and even better coaching after a successful inaugural campaign by Head Coach Jon Cooper and assistant Mike Flanagan along with player development consultant Steve Thomas. This group seems to have taken a decent foundation laid by earlier teams and made it even stronger this year, and that foundation can help the new Admirals grow to be even more successful than this year's edition, in time. Look at how well guys like Mark Barberio and Radko Gudas took to the league this season. It portends good things.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Kevin Poulin does the unthinkable and shuts out the Admirals.
Dustin Tokarski only allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the hard luck lost, and must be wondering why Desjardins got all the goal support this weekend and not The Tic.
BRI Ullstrom, (5) , 3:53
BRI Castonguay, (1) (Blight, Ullstrom), 6:54
BRI Blight, (1) (Svendsen), 19:12 (EN)
Kevin who? Kevin Poulin is a rookie 5th round pick out of Victoriaville in the QMJHL and he stoned Norfolk on all 40 shots he faced today. Norfolk outshot Bridgeport 40-27 in the contest.
The cruelest cut of all is that Chris Durno, Radko Gudas, and Kevin Quick were all touched up with minuses in the loss. Durno dropped to second in the AHL at +13, Gudas fell to a tied for 4th at +11, and Quick is locked in a tied for 13th at +10.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Big Joe is now 7th in the league in scoring.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the win. How spoiled are these netminders, with all the goal support they're getting?
ADK Syvret, (2) (Kalinski), 0:56
ADK Syvret, (3) (Rowe, Holmstrom), 7:07
NOR Harju, (10) (Vernace), 4:27
ADK Pither, (2) (Clackson), 7:34
NOR Berry, (6) (Harju, Gudas), 9:30
NOR Harju, (11) (Quick, Giliati), 11:29
NOR Marks, (1) , 12:34
NOR Harju, (12) (Durno), 11:00
NOR Wright, (6) (Szczechura, Fornataro), 19:45
Johan Harju and Tim Marks were the game's first and third stars. "Big Joe" Harju is now tied for 7th in the AHL in scoring, after his 4 point, hat trick effort tonight. For those wondering, he's one point shy of his lifelong teammate, Linus Omark, who has 23 points so far for Oklahoma City. Harju is also tied for third in goals, as well. Again, you have to give credit to Harju for playing so well since being sent back down from Tampa Bay. A lot of young players would have pouted. Harju's running wild with 5 goals and 6 points in 3 games since the demotion. I am beginning to wonder what Johan has left to learn in Norfolk. To me, the holes in his game are his inexperience with Boucher's system and a lack of upper-body strength. Both of those probably would be fixed more quickly in Tampa Bay. That's a good problem to have.
As of this posting, the Admirals have three players in the AHL's top-ten in plus-minus. Chris Durno is tied for first at +14. Radko Gudas is tied for third at +12. Kevin Quick is tied for tenth at +10. Defenseman Scott Jackson is steadily climbing the charts to join his teammates. He is +4 in 4 games since returning from injury on 11/20 and is +8 in 10 games this season.
Stefano Giliati now has 1 goal and 4 points in the last 4 games.
Norfolk jumps back into second place in the East Division, 4 points back of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with the Pens holding a game in hand. Continuing the trend from last season, Norfolk has been rude houseguests when they travel away from Scope. They are 8-3-2-0 in 13 road games so far this season. They've also played six more road games than home games, which means they'll have a repeat of last year's scenario where they should have a ton of home games in the second half of the year. If they can start winning home games at the same clip as they do on the road, they will be in outstanding shape.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk makes a big time statement.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the win.
WBS Wallace, (7) (Sterling, Hutchinson), 5:39 (PP)
NOR Durno, (5) (Fornataro), 11:43
NOR Jones, (6) (Vernace, Berry), 0:46
NOR Jones, (7) (Quick, Milam), 12:27
NOR Berry, (3) (Jones, Gudas), 19:19 (EN)
Blair Jones' stat line for the season is becoming borderline ridiculous. The fourth year pro now has 7-9-16 in 12 games with a +7 rating. It's been a very different Blair Jones this season. Last year, after being sent down, his production went in the toilet, just as it did in past seasons. But Jones seems to be working even harder after being sent down this time.
Kevin Quick now has 7 assists in his first 14 games this season and a +7 rating. His AHL career high in points was 9 points in 49 games in 2008-2009. I'm legitimately interested in seeing if Quick continues to improve and starts to knock on the door for an NHL cup of coffee in the second half of this season, because I really believe he's a perfect fit, stylistically, for what Guy Boucher is trying to do in Tampa Bay. Radko Gudas is another guy who, after my trip to Norfolk, I think could really fit what Boucher is doing a year or two down the road. He got his fourth assist tonight in this, his rookie campaign and he's a really nice +8. The guy was a big plus player in junior too, you'll recall, with a +45 in Everett last year.
There's just so many players down in Norfolk legitimately knocking on the door for the NHL, and another wave of guys like Quick and Gudas potentially coming in behind them. It's taken over four seasons, between that last year in Springfield when the 2005 draftees like Jones came in and the three subsequent years in Norfolk, to get to this point, but the future is finally here, and it's exciting times.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk coughs up third period leads on back-to-back nights.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 23 shots for the overtime loss.
BRI Reese, (1) (Ullstrom, Wotton), 11:00
NOR Vernace, (2) (Quick, Jones), 11:23
NOR Berry, (2) (Jones, Quick), 2:02
BRI Joensuu, (4) (Ullstrom), 5:28
BRI Wotton, (1) (Ullstrom), 4:49
Kevin Quick snapped a 7 game scoreless streak with a pair of helpers and now has 6 points for the season in 12 games. He had just 4 points in 47 games in all of last season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Consulting the Cheap and Easy Headline Generator (tm) for this one: "Seven is heaven in the Admirals' opener."
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 36 shots but found himself awash in seven sweet goals of support to earn the victory.
BNG Keller, (1) (Locke, Butler), 13:20
NOR Milam, (1) (Pouliot), 5:16
BNG O'Brien, (2) (Daugavins, Hale), 8:02
NOR Wishart, (1) (Quick, Fornataro), 9:43 (PP)
NOR Jones, (1) (Pouliot, Quick), 13:56
BNG Butler, (2) (Locke, Keller), 15:31
BNG O'Brien, (3) (Benoit), 15:45
NOR Milam, (2) (Quick), 16:10 (PP)
NOR Jones, (2) (Simek, Pouliot), 16:34
NOR Angelidis, (1) (Mihalik, Harju), 17:47
NOR Fornataro, (1) (Wright, Szczechura), 17:57
Blair Jones and Troy Milam were the game's first and second stars. Milam played in Finland the past couple of years, but before that he put up 37 points in 75 games for Manchester in 2007-2008, so he has legitimate AHL chops (and he's a righty shot, too). That's a very good signing by the Ads.
M.A. Pouliot and Kevin Quick each had assists in triplicate. With the effort, Quick is already three-quarters of the way to matching his point production of all last season. I'm thinking he might like the new coach and system. Matt Fornataro also had multiple points with one goal and one assist.
You know, on paper, this Admirals team should be a low scoring team that leans on their outstanding goaltending. They have depth, but other than maybe Johan Harju they don't have any guys who are Brandon Bochenski-type snipers. But they used that depth to overwhelm Binghamton tonight. You get the sense there are a lot of hungry Admirals players knocking on the door for NHL opportunities. And, the great thing is that while they got the win and established a lot of confidence in their offensive abilities, they made enough mistakes that Coach Cooper should be able to stay on his team and keep them away from the demon that is complacency.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
With 95% of their opening night lineup in, the Admirals handled their business.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 23 shots for the win.
The Admirals outshot Charlotte 39-23 in the match. Norfolk's goals were scored by Matt Fornataro, Mitch Fadden, Mark Barberio, and Juraj Simek. Mike Angelidis had assists in triplicate, with helpers also belonging to Paul Szczechura, Vladimir Mihalik, Kevin Quick, and Alex Berry.
Norfolk begins their regular season on Saturday night at Binghamton against the Senators.
Game story from norfolkadmirals.com.
TAMPA BAY â€“ The Tampa Bay Lightning have trimmed their roster by 21 players today, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. The team now has 28 players in camp. All 21 players will report to the Norfolk Admirals training camp, which begins on Tuesday.
The prospects that were reassigned to Norfolk include forwards Mitch Fadden, Stefano Giliati, Alex Hutchings, Juraj Simek, and the barely graduated James Wright and Paul Szczechura; defensemen Mark Barberio, Radko Gudas, Scott Jackson, Vladimir Mihalik, Kevin Quick, and Ty Wishart; and goaltenders Jaroslav Janus and Dustin Tokarski.
Forwards Matt Fornataro and Tim Marks, who were invited to the Tampa camp as try-outs, have AHL contracts with the Admirals and will join the Lightning organizational players for the opening of the Norfolk training camp on Tuesday.
Angelidis, Fritz, Jones, Mihalik, Simek, and Szczechura must all clear waivers before their reassignment to Norfolk is complete.
2008 draft pick Mark Barberio scored an unassisted goal 40 seconds into the 2nd half of Sunday's training camp scrimmage to give Team Black a 2-0 lead. Team Black had posted the only marker in the 1st half as 2010 1st rounder Brett Connolly and Martin St. Louis assisted on a Steven Stamkos tally. Prospect Stefano Giliati, an off-season acquisition from Toronto in the Matt Lashoff trade, opened the scoring for Team White with assists from 2006 draftee Kevin Quick and Dominic Moore. Simon Gagne then netted his first goal in a Lightning jersey, the equalizer for Team White, with assists from James Wright and 2009 1st rounder Carter Ashton.
Ashton, Juraj Simek, Niklas Persson, Connolly, and Marc-Andre Pouliot all missed shootout attempts before former Bolt and training camp invitee Eric Perrin won the match for Team Black in the shootout. Mike Smith stopped 20 of 22 for Team White, while Dan Ellis stopped 18 of 20 for Team Black.
The Lightning have assembled a preliminary roster for the upcoming prospects camp July 10-14 at the St. Pete Times Forum. The following roster, courtesy of Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, includes at least three goaltenders, 12 defensemen and 17 forwards. All 2010 draft choices will be participating.