Coming into the night the Norfolk Admirals were riding a 4 game winning streak including two wins over division leaders and outstanding goaltending. Tokarski has been getting into a groove as of late and Janus seems to be the number 2 as of now. Over the last couple games Tyler Johnson has stepped up his play on every front it seems, finding a permanent home on the top line of the PP and what I think is the top line of 4 on 5 PK. He saw a lot of time of both last night, combined 14 penalties between the teams. On the first PK of the night Johnson creates a 2-1 break with Mike Kostka along side, makes a nice pass leading to a SH goal for Kostka. The rest of the period continues on with no real flow, lots of stoppages and penalties. One thing to note was that Mark Barberio took a big hit and then took a penalty and skated off the ice looking at his wrist, he came back later and seemed to be fine. At the end of the first the shots were 6-4 Syracuse leading.
The Admirals come out in the second firing on all cylinders, getting 4 quick shots and looking like they want to take over the game. The game picks up some physicality until Kostka picks up a tripping penalty at 4:37 into the period. They fire from the blue line and Tic gets the initial save but couldn’t find the puck to cover, 1-1 on a power play goal by Holzapfel. Less than a minute later the Crunch pick up a penalty leading to a strong PP of the Ads, Labrie rings it off the post but the Crunch kill off the penalty. On the power plays they seemed to pick up the TB system of running four forwards and one defenseman. For most of the night it was Johnson, Panik, Conacher, Fornataro, and Barberio sometimes switching out Forny for Palat making it a full prospects, and mainly rookie, power play. Worked very well for the most part, would like to see this used a lot more. At 9:37 into the period Syracuse gets their second goal of the night on a nice screen of Tic, defenders didn’t clear out the front too well, easy rebound from initial shot was put in. After this the intensity picks up again, lots of hard fore checking and it leads to an Admirals PP, Nittymaki comes up with some great saves through the PP with the top line having the best chances, Ads now at 0/4 so far for the night on the man advantage. Caputi of the crunch interferes with Tic leading to the fifth power play of the night and a goal from Tyler Johnson High glove side on Nittymaki. Ads get another PP and Alexandre Picard goes high glove again after a quick pass making the Admirals 2/6 on the night. At the end of the second period the Admirals took the shot lead 19-13, outshooting the Crunch 15-7.
The third starts off with TJ creating a turnover and sending Palat and Panik on a quick chance and then Labrie and Conacher follow up on the next shift with another awesoe chance. At this point TJ started setting the pace and I really thought he was deserving a start but wiser minds disagreed. Conacher gets an even strength goal at 14:15 remaining in the third but its equaled by a Crunch goal 13 second later, Holzapfel’s second of the night. The game gets kinda stagnant for a couple minutes until the Admirals take a penalty. On the PK Kostka outlets to Angelidis for a short handed break away, he shoots high on Nittymaki and bounces over his shoulder for the second short handed goal of the night. SYR takes a penalty on their PP, goes 4 on 4 for a short time with up and down play. On the short Norfolk power play Smith gets a goal pushing the lead out to 6-3 and the PP goes up to 3/7. A minute later Dimmen sets up P.C. Labrie for the 7th goal of the night. Former Admirals coach Trent Yawney decided now was the time to change goalies. Admirals then turn the puck over and some poor defense leads to a Syracuse even strength goal. The Crunch get one final shot at the PP and come up empty being held to one shot. For the last bit of game it gets pretty wide open both teams going up and down often. The game ends with the Admirals winning 7-4 and free wings for everyone!
The Admirals went 3/8 on the PP and netted themselves two shorthanded goals. In the 3rd period they scored 3 goals within 4:30 minutes, on only 3 shots, and for what may be the first time in Admirals history they scored a short handed, power play, and even goal on those three shots. The three official starts were 3. Holzapfel(SYR) 2. Smith(NOR) 1. Kostka(NOR). My personal would have been 3. Holzapfel 2. Kostka 1. Johnson. In this game Conacher took possession of the goal scoring lead at 29 goals on the season and further cemented his rookie scoring lead, 60 points and second is 46. Tokarski is once again tied with Ben Bishop of the Peoria Rivermen for 23 wins on the season and is in the top 10 of goalie stats. The two teams meet up again tonight at 7:15.
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