NORFOLK, Va. – Two former Admirals starred in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in front of 38,112 people at Fenway Park today, as Shawn Thornton’s Boston Bruins defeated Michael Leighton’s Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime.
Thornton, the Admirals’ all-time leader with 1,198 penalty minutes, took part in the first fight in Winter Classic history. It happened with a familiar foe, as former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin Dan Carcillo dropped the gloves with Thornton just 12:01 into the first period.
Leighton came less than three minutes away from recording the first shutout in Winter Classic history before Boston’s Mark Recchi scored to tie the game at 1-1 with just 2:18 remaining in regulation. Leighton was named the game’s second star for his efforts.
Marco Sturm won the game for the Bruins 1:57 into overtime with a tip-in of a Patrice Bergeron pass. Former Adirondack Phantom Danny Syvret’s first career NHL goal in the second period was the only goal for the Flyers in the contest. The Admirals play Adirondack tomorrow night in New York at 7:00.
Leighton recorded a 75-52-17 record in 147 games with the Admirals from 2001 – 2005. His 75 wins, 18 shutouts, 2.16 goals-against average and .919 save percentage are all AHL Admirals career records.
Leighton, who had shut out the New York Rangers in his last start on Wednesday night, had a shutout streak of 154:07 snapped by Recchi’s goal. The Flyers claimed Leighton off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes on December 15. In 13 games this season between Philadelphia and Carolina, Leighton is 5-4-1 with a 3.02 goals-against average, .894 save percentage and one shutout.
Leighton, 28, is a 6-foot-3, 186-pound goaltender from Petrolia, Ontario, Canada in his ninth professional season. In his 82-game NHL career, he is 22-35-11 with four shutouts, a 2.98 goals-against average and .900 save percentage between the Flyers, Hurricanes, Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks. In 266 career American Hockey League games between the Admirals, Albany River Rats, Philadelphia Phantoms, Portland Pirates and Rochester Americans, Leighton was 128-105-25 with 29 shutouts, a 2.30 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. He is a two-time AHL All-Star (Norfolk in 2002 and Albany in 2008).
Thornton recorded 40 goals, 98 points and 1,198 penalty minutes in 314 games with the Admirals from 2001 – 2006. He is the AHL Admirals all-time penalty minutes leader and ranks fourth in games played and in the top 15 of goals, assists and points. His 795 career shots are also the most in AHL Admirals history.
Thornton has one goal, seven points and 66 penalty minutes in 38 games for Boston this season. He is tied for 23rd in the NHL in penalty minutes.
Thornton, 32, is a 6-foot-2, 217-pound forward from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada in his 13th professional season. In 254 career NHL games between the Bruins, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks, he has 15 goals and 37 points with 421 penalty minutes. Thornton appeared in his 250th career NHL game last Sunday at Florida. He won the 2007 Stanley Cup with Anaheim.
Thornton appeared in 605 career AHL games between the Admirals, Portland Pirates and St. John’s Maple Leafs, recording 61 goals, 161 points and 2,468 penalty minutes. Thornton ranks fourth all-time in penalty minutes in the 74-season history of the American Hockey League.
The Admirals are in the midst of a three-game road trip and will face the Adirondack Phantoms in the second game of that trip Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.
The next home action for the Admirals will be a pair of games against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday and Saturday, January 8-9. Friday is All Faith Night with special discounted group tickets available for organizations of all faiths.
Saturday is Special Olympics Night and 2010 Pro Sports Calendar Giveaway Night. Discounted fundraising tickets are available through the Admirals website with proceeds going to Special Olympics of Virginia. Plus, a limited amount of 2010 Pro Sports Calendars featuring the Admirals and Norfolk Tides will be given away at the gates.
For a complete schedule and details of the promotions, please visit norfolkadmirals.com or call (757) 640-1212.