HERSHEY, Pa. – The Norfolk Admirals carried a 4-3 lead into the late stages of the game on Saturday night at Giant Center. However, the Hershey Bears netted three goals in the final four minutes of the game to defeat the Admirals 6-4.
The Bears (38-17-1-5) took a 1-0 lead 7:17 into a high-scoring opening period. Grant McNeill deflected a Patrick McNeill point shot into the net over the right shoulder of goaltender Craig Kowalski.
The Admirals (23-28-3-5) tied the game at 1-1 just over five minutes later on a five-on-three power play. Zenon Konopka threaded a pass through traffic from the right circle to Brandon Bochenski in the left circle. Bochenski rifled a shot over the right leg of Hershey goaltender Daren Machesney at 12:25.
Norfolk took a 2-1 lead less than two minutes later. Paul Szczechura sped into the attacking zone around a fallen defender. He let a wrist shot fly from the right faceoff dot that eluded Machesney at 14:12.
The Bears knotted the score at 2-2 just over three minutes later with a power play goal. Graham Mink found his own rebound in the low slot and sent a backhand shot past the outstretched right leg of Kowalski at 17:25.
Bochenski then restored the Admirals advantage with another five-on-three power play goal in the dying seconds of the first period. Once again, Bochenski sent a wrister from the left faceoff circle that went past Machesney blocker-side at 19:51. The goal was Bochenski’s team-leading twenty-third tally of the season.
Konopka gave the Admirals a 4-2 lead midway through the second stanza. He emerged from behind the goal line near the bottom of the right circle and centered the puck toward the left circle where Bochenski was parked. However, the pass deflected off legs in the crease and ricocheted into the net for Konopka’s twelfth goal of the season at 11:43.
The Bears cut Norfolk’s lead to one goal later in the period. Andrew Joudrey won a puck battle in the left corner and centered a pass to the slot. Oscar Osala sent a one-timer into the net at 17:48.
Mink tied the game with 3:03 remaining in the final frame. Kowalski stopped a Sami Lepisto shot and fell to the ice in search of the rebound. Mink found it in the low slot and lifted the puck over the prone netminder.
Mathieu Perrault put Hershey on top for good at with 2:35 left. Tyler Sloan sent a shot from the left point that was blocked by traffic in the slot. The puck ended up on the blade of Perrault, who sent a quick shot past an unsuspecting Kowalski.
Chris Bourque tacked on an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left.
Craig Kowalski (43 shots, 38 saves) shouldered the loss. Daren Machesney (41 shots, 37 saves) picked up the win.
Norfolk was 2-4 on the power play. Hershey was 1-6.
Norfolk continues a four-game road trip tomorrow evening in Albany. The puck drops against the River Rats at 5:00 p.m.
The next home action for the Admirals will come on Friday and Saturday nights next week when Norfolk hosts the Lowell Devils, AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. The puck drops for both games at 7:15 p.m.
Friday night is Military Appreciation Night. Individuals may show their military ID at the Scope Box Office and receive $8 Red Level Tickets. Groups or commands who would like to sit together may contact the Admirals Group Sales Department at (757) 640-1212 ext. 23. For more details, please visit norfolkadmirals.com.
Saturday night is AAA Member Night. AAA members can receive $3 off Red Level Tickets at the Scope Box Office only. For more details, visit AAA online at AAATidewaterVA.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!
1. Graham Mink – HER
2. Brandon Bochensk – NOR
3. Grant McNeill – HER
Notes … Norfolk has lost back-to-back games despite carrying a lead into the third period in both contests. The Admirals are now 16-4-2-2 when leading after two periods … Zenon Konopka has points in three straight games (1G, 4A) and nine of his last 16 games (3G, 11A) … Blair Jones has points in four of his last five games (1G, 4A) … Brandon Bochenski has points in three of his last four games (3G, 3A) …Vladimir Mihalik has assists in both games since returning from an upper-body injury last night (3A) … One night after Norfolk netminder Riku Helenius notched his first AHL point with an assist, Admirals goaltender Craig Kowalski also recorded his first AHL point as he assisted on Bochenski’s first goal of the game … Scratches: F Bracken Kearns, F Jason Ward, F Chris Lawrence, D Scott Jackson, D Andy Rogers and D Daryl Boyle … Attendance: 10,542.