NORFOLK, Va. – Troy Milam, Mattias Ritola and Marc-Antoine Pouliot each had a goal and an assist, but the Norfolk Admirals (37-23-8-6) fell to the Hershey Bears (44-24-3-5), 6-3, on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The Admirals remain in fourth place in the AHL's East Division with six games remaining. The Admirals will conclude the home portion of the 2010-11 regular season schedule tomorrow night with a rematch against the Bears at Scope.
Goaltender Dustin Tokarski stopped 17 of 22 shots in defeat for Norfolk.
Hershey opened scoring 5:14 into the first period just after a Norfolk five-on-three power play had expired. Goaltender Braden Holtby caught the Admirals during a line change with a long outlet pass from the Hershey zone to Keith Aucoin at the Norfolk blue line. Aucoin shoveled a pass from the left point to Andrew Gordon in the slot for a partial breakaway, and Gordon sent a shot between Tokarski’s legs and into the net for a 1-0 Bears lead.
Hershey’s lead doubled just under eleven minutes later on a Francois Bouchard tally. Andrew Kozek sent a pass from the right half wall to Bouchard in the left circle. Bouchard broke in alone on Tokarski and sent a shot into the net between the right leg and blocker of the netminder at 16:02.
Hershey went up by three goals 3:09 into the second period. Souray skated from his own zone through the Norfolk defense and sent a slap shot from the top of the left circle over the left shoulder of Tokarski for a 3-0 Bears lead.
The visitors went ahead 4-0 late in the second period. Mathieu Perrault sent a shot from the right circle that Tokarski stopped. While his momentum was taking him past the goal line, Perrault poked at the rebound in the goalmouth, sending it off the skate of a Norfolk defenseman and into the net past Tokarski’s blocker at 16:52.
Norfolk responded just 16 seconds later with their first goal of the evening. Milam sent a slap shot from the high slot through traffic and past a screened Holtby at 17:08 for his fifteenth goal of the season.
The Admirals cut Hershey’s lead to 4-2 just over a minute later on the power play. Milam threaded a pass from the right circle through two sets of legs and onto the blade of Ritola. Ritola quickly roofed a shot over the blocker of Holtby at 18:17 for his fourth goal of the season.
However, the Bears restored their three-goal lead 3:26 into the final frame on a five-on-three power play goal. Aucoin found the rebound of a Kyle Greentree shot near Tokarski's right leg and sent a backhand shot over the goaltender's right shoulder for a 5-2 Hershey lead.
Norfolk once again cut its deficit to two goals with Pouliot's 21st goal of the season. While skating with a four-on-three power play, Pouliot accepted a cross-crease feed from Blair Jones and tapped it past the left leg of Holtby at 18:23.
However, Steve Pinizzotto sealed Norfolk's fate with an empty-net goal with 28.9 seconds left in regulation, giving Hershey the 6-3 win.
Dustin Tokarski (22 shots, 17 saves) fell to 21-19-4 on the season. Braden Holtby (38 shots, 35 saves) improved to 15-9-2.
Norfolk was 2-13 on the power play. Hershey was 1-5.
The Admirals will conclude the home portion of the 2010-11 regular season schedule tomorrow night with a rematch against the Bears at Scope. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m.
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. Sheldon Souray – HER
2. Keith Aucoin – HER
3. Troy Milam – NOR
EAST DIVISION PLAYOFF RACE … 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 six 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, 5 games remaining) remain one point back of Norfolk after losing to Syracuse tonight. The Admirals have one game in hand on the Senators … The Worcester Sharks (82 points, 5 games remaining) defeated Manchester tonight to cut their deficit to six 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, 4 games remaining) lost to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight and remain three points ahead of Norfolk. The Admirals hold two games in hand on the Checkers … Norfolk falls eight points behind the second-place Hershey Bears (96 points, 4 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 … Norfolk failed to convert on its first penalty shot opportunity of the season, as Stefano Giliati was denied by Holtby midway through the third period … Norfolk had 13 power play opportunities in the game – five more opportunities than any other game this season. They scored on only two chances … Did not play: Kevin Quick, Levi Nelson, Scott Jackson, Mitch Fritz, Cedrick Desjardins, Pat Nagle, Matt Fornataro.