NORFOLK, VA – Radek Smolenak netted his first professional hat trick and Mike McKenna stopped 43 of 44 shots as the Norfolk Admirals (18-21-2-5) swept the Thursday-Friday set against the Albany River Rats (19-23-3-2) with a 4-1 win on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.
The Admirals opened scoring with a tic-tac-toe passing play just as a power play expired near the midpoint of the first period. Chris Gratton won a battle for the puck in the right corner and dished a pass to Brandon Segal in the left circle. Segal then sent a quick pass to Radek Smolenak on the opposite side of the goalmouth. Smolenak danced around the perimeter of the crease and past a prone Albany netminder Justin Peters before shooting into the goal at 9:44.
Norfolk’s lead tripled with a quick pair of markers early in the second stanza. Brandon Bochenski netted his team-leading sixteenth goal of the season at 2:56. Mike Lundin sent a low shot from the right point that Bochenski deflected top-shelf as he was tripped to the ice.
Smolenak netted his second goal of the game eleven seconds later. Peters attempted to clear the puck out of the zone along the wall from behind his net. However, Gratton stopped the puck to the right of Peters and sent a quick centering pass to the left circle. Smolenak sent a shot from the left dot that deflected off an Albany defender and beat a scrambling Peters high to the blocker side at 3:07.
Albany got on the board with a power play goal 7:42 into the final frame. Brett Carson sent a pass from the right circle to Pat Dwyer at the opposite side of the crease for a backdoor goal.
The Admirals closed out scoring with Smolenak’s third goal of the game less than four minutes later. Smolenak entered the attacking zone along the left wing and sent a shot from the hashmarks that Peters stopped. Smolenak went to the net for the rebound and put it through Peters’ legs for his fifteenth goal of the season at 11:13.
Mike McKenna (44 shots, 43 saves) earned the win. Justin Peters (46 shots, 42 saves) suffered the loss.
Norfolk was 0-4 on the power play. Albany was 1-5.
The Admirals will travel to Hershey to face the Bears tomorrow night. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m.
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 2008-09 season tickets today. 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. Radek Smolenak – NOR
2. Mike McKenna – NOR
3. Chris Gratton – NOR
Notes … Smolenak registered Norfolk’s second hat trick of the season. Steve Downie scored three times against the Philadelphia Phantoms on December 27 at Scope … Mike McKenna is unbeaten in his last five starts (4-0-1, 2.36 goals-against average, .929 save percentage) … Chris Gratton notched three assists in the game … Norfolk out-shot Albany 43-25 in the first periods and 96-77 overall through both games of the Thursday-Friday series against Albany … Brandon Bochenski (5G, 4A) has points in seven of his last nine games and has the game-winning goal in back-to-back games … Justin Keller has points in three straight games (2G, 3A) and four of his last five games (2G, 5A) ... Scratches: F Jason Ward, F/D Brent Henley, F Chris Lawrence, and D Scott Jackson … Goaltender Karri Ramo served the second game of his six-game suspension … Attendance: 4,621.