NORFOLK, Va. – Captain Ryan Craig had two goals and an assist to lead the Norfolk Admirals (27-24-3-1) past the Lowell Devils (29-20-4-2) 5-1 on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The Admirals swept the two-game set at Scope against Lowell and won for the tenth time in their last 13 games (10-1-1-1).
The Admirals will hit the road for a pair of games early next week starting with a critical game on Monday evening against the second-place Albany River Rats. They return to Scope on Friday and Saturday for a pair of games against the Springfield Falcons.
The Devils opened scoring 12:48 into the game. Ben Walter sent a pass from the right half wall to Alexander Vasyunov for a shot attempt. The shot was partially blocked. The puck wound up on the blade of Nick Palmieri in the low slot for a backhander past the right leg of an unsuspecting Norfolk netminder Jaroslav Janus.
However, that would be the only shot the Devils would get past Janus on the evening. Norfolk knotted the score at 1-1 just under five minutes later. Mitch Fadden sent a feed from the right corner to Matt Fornataro at the right point. Fornataro sent a slap shot through a screen and past former Admirals goaltender Mike McKenna at 17:33.
Norfolk took a 2-1 lead midway through the second stanza. Paul Szczechura blocked a shot at the high slot of his own zone and started a two-on-one break with Juraj Simek. Szczechura fed the puck from the right circle to Simek for a back-door tap-in at 12:16.
Captain Ryan Craig then opened the floodgates with a pair of markers just over a minute apart late in the second period. Dana Tyrell sent a shot from the right circle that McKenna deadened, but the puck squirted out from under his right leg. Craig found the loose puck and swept it into the net with a backhand shot at 17:25.
The Captain made it 4-1 at 18:39 with a power play goal. Fadden sent a pass from the right corner toward the slot and Craig fired a forehand shot past the right leg of McKenna from the top of the crease for his sixteenth goal of the season.
Vladimir Mihalik closed out scoring 16:01 into the final frame. Tyrell spotted the 6’7” defenseman in the slot and Mihalik fired a wrist shot top-shelf for his first goal of the season.
Jaroslav Janus (27 shots, 26 saves) earned his third straight win. Mike McKenna (36 shots, 31 saves) was saddled with the loss.
Norfolk was 1-7 on the power play. Lowell was 0-3.
The Admirals will hit the road for a pair of games early next week starting with a critical game on Monday evening against the second-place Albany River Rats. They return to Scope on Friday and Saturday for a pair of games against the Springfield Falcons. Friday night is Hall of Fame Night as Dennis McEwen and Rick Kowalsky are inducted into the Admirals Hall of Fame.
For a complete schedule and details of the promotions, please visit norfolkadmirals.com or call (757) 640-1212.
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 1-800-745-3000 or visit Ticketmaster online at ticketmaster.com. Don’t miss a minute of the action by purchasing your 2009-10 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!
1. Ryan Craig – NOR
2. Paul Szczechura – NOR
3. Vladimir Mihalik – NOR
NOTES … The Admirals (27-24-3-1, 58 points in 55 games) extended their lead over the fourth-place Adirondack Phantoms (24-24-2-2, 52 pts in 52 games) to six points. The Phantoms fell to the Portland Pirates 5-4 tonight. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (25-26-1-1, 52 points in 53 games) tied the Phantoms for fourth place with a 5-0 victory versus Hershey tonight. The Admirals remain four points back of the second-place Albany River Rats (28-20-3-3, 62 points in 543 games) after the River Rats upended the seventh-place Binghamton Senators (21-24-3-2, 47 points in 50 games) 7-0 tonight. The Syracuse Crunch (22-25-3-3, 50 pts in 53 games) remain in sixth place following a 2-1 loss at Manchester tonight … The Admirals shut down the second-ranked power play in the American Hockey League, leaving Lowell 0-14 on power play against Norfolk in the four-game season series … Ryan Craig tied Brandon Bochenski for the team lead with his sixteenth goal of the season … Jaroslav Janus has won three straight games, allowing only three goals in that span for a 0.99 goals-against average and .963 save percentage … Justin Keller’s point streak ended at five games (5G, 3A) … With a goal, Matt Fornataro has points in three straight (2G, 1A) and ten of his last 13 games (7G, 4A) … Juraj Simek netted a goal to extend his point streak to three games (3G, 2A) … Ty Wishart has points in nine of his last 15 games (3G, 10A) … Scratches: Mark Parrish, Matt Lashoff … Attendance: 4,427.