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February 6, 2009

Helenius Pitches Shutout in First AHL Start as Admirals Top Sound Tigers


NORFOLK, VA – Rookie netminder Riku Helenius pitched a 41-save shutout in his first career American Hockey League start and Brandon Bochenski posted two goals as the Norfolk Admirals (19-22-2-5) topped the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (27-16-3-2) 3-0 on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.

The Admirals took a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period. Justin Keller sent a shot from the right corner that bounced off a maze of bodies at the goalmouth. Zenon Konopka found the puck, spun around and banked a shot off the skate of Brandon Bochenski at the top of the crease and into the net. Bochenski’s seventeenth goal of the season came at 11:31.

After a scoreless second period where both goaltenders turned aside 14 shots, Norfolk’s lead doubled with Bochenski’s second goal of the game at 4:43 of the final frame. Mike Lundin centered a pass from the right corner to Radek Smolenak on the goalmouth. Smolenak’s shot was stopped and Bochenski collected the rebound in the mid-slot before firing a wrist shot through traffic and past Bridgeport netminder Nathan Lawson.

Brandon Segal closed out scoring late in the third period with a highlight reel goal. He emerged from the left corner and danced around a defender at the bottom of the circle before stickhandling past a prone Lawson and firing into an empty cage. Segal’s thirteenth goal of the season came at 15:38.

Helenius withstood 16 shots in the final frame and helped Norfolk kill off three penalties – including a 37-second five-on-three disadvantage – as the Admirals completed the 3-0 victory.

Riku Helenius stopped all 41 shots he saw in his first professional start since December 17. Nathan Lawson (43 shots, 40 saves) took the loss.

Norfolk was 0-4 on the power play. Bridgeport was 0-8.

The Admirals and Sound Tigers will square off once again tomorrow night at Scope. The puck drops at 7:15 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!

Three Stars:
1. Riku Helenius – NOR
2. Brandon Bochenski – NOR
3. Brandon Segal – NOR

Notes … Riku Helenius’ last professional start came on December 17, 2008, with the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves versus the Florida Everblades. Since then, he has appeared in just two games in relief – his AHL debut on January 2 with Norfolk at Worcester and his NHL debut on January 30 with Tampa Bay versus Philadelphia … Tonight marked the second time in AHL Admirals history that a goaltender posted more than 40 saves in a shutout. The record belongs to Michael Leighton, who stopped all 44 shots in Binghamton on April 9, 2004 … At 20 years, 11 months and five days old, Helenius is the third-youngest goaltender to post a shutout in AHL Admirals history, behind only Leighton (20 years, four months and 28 days on October 17, 2001 at Albany) and Craig Anderson (20 years, six months and four days on November 25, 2001 at Hershey) … The Admirals handed Bridgeport its third shutout loss in its past seven games. Prior to this stretch, the Sound Tigers had not been shut out its first 41 games of the season … With an assist tonight, Justin Keller now has points in five straight games (2G, 5A) and six of his last seven games (2G, 7A). He also has assists in four consecutive games (5A) ... Brandon Segal now has points in three straight games (1G, 2A) and four of his last five games (1G, 3A) … Brandon Bochenski has points in eight of his last 11 games (7G, 4A) … Zenon Konopka has points in four of his last five games (2G, 4A) … Scratches: F Jason Ward, F/D Brent Henley, F Chris Lawrence and D Andy Rogers … Attendance: 3,930.

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