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February 14, 2009

Admirals Taste Sweet Valentine’s Day Victory in Hershey


HERSHEY, Pa. – After trailing 3-0 following the game’s first five minutes, the Norfolk Admirals clawed back to defeat the East Division-leading Hershey Bears 5-4 on Saturday night at Giant Center.

The Admirals (20-25-2-5) received a 46-save performance from goaltender Craig Kowalski in his Norfolk debut while Brandon Segal and Brandon Bochenski both netted a pair of goals in the victory.

Penalty trouble put Norfolk into a three-goal hole in the first five minutes of the game, as Grant Potulny was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking double minor and Brandon Segal was called for cross-checking minor forty seconds later. The Bears (35-15-0-4) capitalized on all three penalties, as Keith Aucoin (3:17) and Alexandre Giroux (4:31) netted five-on-three power play goals while Patrick McNeill scored on a five-on-four Hershey advantage at 4:54.

The Admirals stormed out of the gates in the second period to erase that deficit and take the lead. Segal put Norfolk on the board 2:04 into the second stanza. Paul Szczechura emerged from behind the net and sent a pass from the bottom of the left circle to Segal at the bottom of the right circle. Segal sent a wrist shot past Bears goaltender Kris Mayotte’s glove.

Brandon Bochenski brought the Admirals to within a goal of the Bears with a power play goal just over two minutes later. While stationed behind the net, Chris Gratton spotted Bochenski streaking down the slot. Bochenski one-timed a pass into the net at 4:05.

Bochenski knotted the game at 3-3 with his team-leading twentieth goal of the season at 12:52. Zenon Konopka deflected a shot on net that Mayotte stopped. Konopka went behind the net to retrieve the rebound and centered it to Bochenski, who scored from the bottom of the left circle.

Norfolk took a 4-3 lead in the second period’s final minute with another power play goal. This time, Daryl Boyle sent a shot from the high slot that ricocheted off legs in the slot to Radek Smolenak in the bottom of the right circle. Smolenak netted his sixteenth goal of the season with a shot that found the corner of the net above the right shoulder of Mayotte at 19:03.

The Bears evened the score at 4-4 in the eighth minute of the final frame. Giroux and Aucoin broke in two-on-one on Kowalski. Giroux sent a pass from the slot to Aucoin near the bottom of the left circle for the goal at 7:37.

Segal netted the game-winner with 3:04 remaining after stealing the puck from a Bears attacker in the neutral zone. He skated into the Hershey zone along the right wing and sent a slap shot from the top of the circle that eluded the glove of Mayotte for his fifteenth marker of the campaign.

Hershey pulled Mayotte for the extra attacker following a Mike Lundin hooking penalty with 1:28 remaining and skated with a six-on-four advantage to close out the game. However, Kowalski made several big stops to preserve the 5-4 Norfolk win.

Craig Kowalski (50 shots, 46 saves) earned the victory in his Norfolk debut. Kris Mayotte (29 shots, 24 saves) took the loss.

Norfolk was 2-6 on the power play. Hershey was 3-8.

The Admirals will continue a quick four-game road trip tomorrow afternoon in Bridgeport. The puck drops against the Sound Tigers at 4:00.

The Admirals will return to Scope next Friday and Saturday to battle the Binghamton Senators. On Friday night, the team will induct Mark Bernard and Victor Gervais into the Admirals Hall of Fame, presented by the Virginian-Pilot. On Saturday, the Admirals Alumni Game will take place at 3:00 p.m. For more details, please visit norfolkadmirals.com.

To purchase tickets to any Admirals game, you may visit the Scope Box Office weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., visit any Ticketmaster outlet, call Ticketmaster at (757) 671-8100 or visit Ticketmaster online at www.ticketmaster.com. Don’t miss a minute of the action by purchasing your 2009-10 season tickets today. Season tickets start at just $42 per month! Stop by the Admirals’ Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime!

Three Stars:
1. Brandon Segal – NOR
2. Keith Aucoin – HER
3. Craig Kowalski – NOR

Notes … With 46 stops, Craig Kowalski made the most saves of any goaltender making his Norfolk debut. Kowalski was signed to a Professional Tryout Contract yesterday … Norfolk’s captains combined for four goals and two assists, as captain Zenon Konopka had a pair of assists and alternate captains Brandon Bochenski and Brandon Segal each had a pair of goals … Bochenski has points in nine of his last 15 games (9G, 5A) … Bochenski also has multiple goals in three of his last eight games after having only two in his first 41 games of the season … Konopka registered a pair of assists and has points in six of his last nine games (2G, 7A) … Segal has points in five of his last nine games (3G, 3A) … With a pair of goals, Segal registered his first multiple-point game since December 12 vs. Bridgeport … Paul Szczechura registered two assists for his first points since being reassigned to the Admirals from the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday … The Admirals scored multiple power play goals for the first time since January 9 vs. Manchester (a span of 12 games) … Norfolk’s last win against Hershey came on January 23, 2008 – a 3-2 shootout victory at Giant Center … After being shut out in their previous two games, Norfolk’s scoreless streak ended at 175:46 with Segal’s first goal of the game in the second period … Scratches: F Juraj Simek, F Jason Ward, F Chris Lawrence, F Justin Keller, D Andy Rogers and D Vladimir Mihalik … Attendance: 9,453.

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