NORFOLK, Va. – Mattias Ritola had a goal and two assists in his return from the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, the Norfolk Admirals (37-22-8-6) could not erase a 4-1 first period deficit as they fell to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (53-20-0-1), 4-3, on Wednesday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The Admirals will host the Hershey Bears on Friday and Saturday nights at Scope in the final home games of the regular season.
Blair Jones and Troy Milam also scored for Norfolk.
The Penguins opened scoring with a Brett Sterling power play goal just 2:22 into the game. Sterling found the rebound of an Andrew Hutchinson shot and put his second rebound shot into the net for a 1-0 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lead.
Norfolk leveled the score at 1-1 just over six minutes later on Jones’ twenty-first goal of the season. Jones and Ritola entered the attacking zone two-on-one with Jones on the right wing and Ritola on the left wing. Jones sent the puck across the slot to Ritola, who returned it to Jones for a redirection into the net past the left leg of Penguins goaltender John Curry at 8:43.
However, the visitors charged out to a three-goal lead before the end of the first period. Keven Veilleux scored on the power play at 14:44 before Sterling netted his second man advantage marker of the period at 18:53. Ryan Craig then benefitted from a turnover in the Norfolk zone and converted a breakaway opportunity at 19:38.
The Admirals closed their gap to one goal with a power play goal of their own at 8:26 of the second stanza. Ritola sent a pass from the right circle across the slot to Milam on the opposite side of the goalmouth. Milam tapped in the pass between the post and right leg of Curry for his fourteenth goal of the season to cut Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s lead to 4-2.
Ritola then cut the gap to one goal midway through the final frame with his third goal of the season. Mathieu Roy sent a shot from the right point that Ritola deflected near the right faceoff dot past a screened Curry at 11:42.
However, the Admirals were unable to find the equalizer.
Dustin Tokarski (27 shots, 23 saves) fell to 21-18-4. John Curry (34 shots, 31 saves) improved to 21-13-0.
Norfolk was 1-3 on the power play. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was 3-6.
The Admirals will close out the home portion of their regular season schedule on Friday and Saturday nights at Scope against the Hershey Bears. Join us on Friday for American Red Cross Night. For a limited time and only at norfolkadmirals.com, you can purchase $10 Red Level Tickets for the game - that's a savings of $4 per ticket! Proceeds benefit the American Red Cross. Online ticket sales will close at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 31.
The Admirals will conclude the home portion of the regular season on Saturday by thanking the most important members of the team – the fans – with Fan Appreciation Night. Come out for an exciting night of hockey and you may leave with exciting prizes! Beginning at 4:30 p.m., Admirals fans are invited to a pre-game party outside on the plaza at Norfolk Scope Arena, including music and games for the whole family. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.
Individual tickets for all regular season games start at just $12. Tickets are available now at the Scope Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at ticketmaster.com.
Season tickets for the 2011-12 season are now available! Low monthly payments available for a limited time only. 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 for more details or to purchase your tickets!
1. Ryan Craig – WBS
2. Mattias Ritola – NOR
3. Brett Sterling – WBS
EAST DIVISION PLAYOFF CHASE ... Norfolk's magic number to clinch a playoff spot remains five points over the Worcester Sharks. Any combination of five standings points gained by Norfolk or lost by Worcester will clinch a berth in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs for the Admirals … With seven games remaining in the regular season, Norfolk has 88 points and is in fourth place in the AHL's East Division. The fifth-place Binghamton Senators (87 points, 6 games remaining) remains one point back of Norfolk. The Admirals have one game in hand on the Senators … The Worcester Sharks (80 points, 6 games remaining) remain eight points back of the Admirals should the "Crossover Rule" come into effect. Norfolk has one game in hand on Worcester … The Charlotte Checkers (91 points, 5 games remaining) remains three points ahead of Norfolk. The Admirals hold two games in hand on the Checkers … Norfolk remains six points behind the second-place Hershey Bears (94 points, 5 games remaining). The Admirals also have two games in hand on the Bears ... The top four spots in the East Division are guaranteed to qualify for the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs. The "Crossover Rule" is in effect where if the fifth place team in the East Division has more points than the fourth place team in the Atlantic Division, that team will cross over into the Atlantic Division Semifinals.
NOTES … The Admirals tied a season high by allowing three power play goals … The four goals allowed in the first period also tied a season high for goals allowed in a single period … Norfolk finished the regular season 3-3-0-2 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after winning the first three games of the season series … If the regular season ended today, the Admirals and Penguins would meet in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs … Blair Jones has points in each of his last five games with Norfolk (5G, 1A) and has goals in four of those five games … Jones is just three points away from tying Ajay Baines as the all-time leading point scorer in AHL Admirals history … Mattias Ritola has multiple point performances in six of the ten games he has played for Norfolk this season (3G, 11A) … Troy Milam now has 14 goals on the season. He is two goals shy of tying Dustin Byfuglien's AHL Admirals record for goals by a defenseman in a single season (16, 2006-07) … Chris Durno served his one-game suspension tonight … Scratches: Kevin Quick, Levi Nelson, Tim Marks, Chris Durno, Mitch Fritz, Cedrick Desjardins.