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April 11, 2009

Admirals Beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Again, Finish 2008-09 with Win

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Brandon Buck netted his first professional points with a goal and an assist and Craig Kowalski made 32 saves as the Norfolk Admirals closed out the 2008-09 season with their third straight win, a 4-3 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday night at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.

The Penguins (48-25-3-3) jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals near the midpoint of the first period. Former Admiral Adam Henrich put the home team out front 7:53 into the game when he cut down the left wing and threw a centering pass toward the crease that deflected off the skate of an Admirals defender and into the net.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lead doubled under a minute later, as Jean-Michel Daoust sent a pass from behind the goal line to Paul Bissonnette in the left circle for a one-timer that got past Norfolk netminder Craig Kowalski’s glove at 8:30.

The Admirals (33-38-4-5) stormed back to tie the game before the teams skated off for the first intermission. Brandon Buck picked up his first professional point after he emerged from the right corner and sent a feed toward the crease that bounced off of Penguins goaltender Adam Berkhoel and onto the stick of Mike Sgroi. Sgroi punched the puck through the pads of Berkhoel at 10:47 for his first goal as an Admiral.

Norfolk knotted the game at two goals apiece at 15:59. Radek Smolenak stole the puck from a Wilkes-Barre defender in the low slot and sniped a shot between the right leg and blocker arm of Berkhoel for his 24th goal of the season.

The Admirals took the lead with a pair of milestone goals in the second period. It began at 6:13 with Brandon Buck’s first professional goal. John Swanson sent a backhand pass from behind the goal line into the slot. Buck sent a one-timer past the right leg of Berkhoel to give Norfolk a 3-2 lead.

The visitors doubled their lead less than five minutes later with Blair Jones’ twentieth goal of the season. Brandon Segal sent a pass from the left corner toward the slot where Jones was fending off a Penguins defender. Jones angled his stick so that the puck caromed off his blade and went between the legs of Berkhoel at 10:56.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton pumped 22 shots on net in the third period and only one found its mark. Ben Lovejoy sent a shot from the left point that bounced off Kowalski as a Penguin defender crashed into him. Joe Vitale found the rebound and shot it over a prone Kowalski and into the net at 16:52.

However, the Admirals did not allow another goal despite over a minute playing with a five-on-three disadvantage, as they held on for a 4-3 win.

Craig Kowalski (35 shots, 32 saves) earned the win. Doug Raeder played the last second of the game to make his professional debut for Norfolk and did not face a shot. Adam Berkhoel (15 shots, 11 saves) suffered the loss.

Norfolk was 0-3 on the power play. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was 0-4.

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Three Stars:
1. Brandon Buck – NOR
2. Craig Kowalski – NOR
3. Blair Jones – NOR

Notes … With the win, the Admirals will finish in the season with 33 wins, 38 losses, four overtime losses and five shootout losses for 75 points and sixth place in the AHL’s East Division … Norfolk won three straight road games for the first time this season … With the wins at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight and on Wednesday, the Admirals have won two consecutive games at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza for the first time since November/December, 2001 … Norfolk went 4-4-0-0 against the Penguins this season, marking the second straight .500 or better season series against the Penguins after five straight losing seasons … The Admirals sent a franchise-record low 15 shots on goal in the game. The previous record of 16 shots had occurred three separate times, most recently on February 2, 2008 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton … F Steve Downie returned to the Norfolk lineup following the conclusion of his 20-game suspension … Goaltender Doug Raeder entered the game with just over one second remaining to make his professional debut … Scratches: F Bracken Kearns, F/D Wade Brookbank, F Jason Ward, F/D Brent Henley, F Chris Lawrence, F Grant Potulny and D Scott Jackson … D Mike Knight missed the game due to a one-game suspension … Attendance: 7,647.

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