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April 10, 2010

Admirals Taste Bittersweet Victory over Hershey In Season Finale

NORFOLK, Va. – Juraj Simek scored twice in the third period to propel the Norfolk Admirals (39-35-3-3) past the Hershey Bears (60-17-0-3) 5-2 in the Admirals’ season finale on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.

However, the Admirals were eliminated from contention for a spot in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs as a result of victories by both the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Lowell Devils tonight. More details on the qualification rules for the Calder Cup Playoffs and why the Admirals have been eliminated from contention for a spot in the playoffs are given at the bottom of this release.

Hershey took a 1-0 lead 8:43 into the first period. Mathieu Perrault accepted a pass in the slot and eluded the check of a Norfolk defenseman before dishing the puck to his right to Francois Bouchard. Bouchard sent a quick shot along the ice from the bottom of the right circle that eluded the outstretched left leg of Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski.

Norfolk knotted the score at 1-1 less than five minutes later. Jeremy Dehner collected the puck off a turnover in the neutral zone and entered the attacking zone along the left wing. He dropped a pass at the top of the left circle for Matt Fornataro. Fornataro deked around a defender with a toe drag and shot a puck between the legs of Hershey goaltender Jason Bacashihua at 13:11 for his eleventh goal of the season.

The Admirals took a 2-1 lead just 2:36 into the second period with a Paul Szczechura power play goal. After making a save on a Hershey shorthanded shot, Tokarski sent a breakout pass to Ryan Craig, who quickly tipped the puck to Mark Parrish in the neutral zone. Parrish entered the attacking zone along the left half wall and sent a cross-ice pass to Szczechura at the bottom of the right circle. Szczechura roofed a shot over Bacashihua for his eighth goal of the season.

Hershey tied the game at 2-2 at 15:43 with a power play goal of its own. Keith Aucoin sent a pass from the left circle to Alexandre Giroux at the bottom of the right circle. Giroux sent a shot into the leg pads of Tokarski, picked up the rebound and sent a backhand shot over the left shoulder of Tokarski for his fiftieth goal of the season.

Norfolk reclaimed the lead for good 1:49 into the third period. Blair Jones sent a pass from the right circle across the slot that was deflected by a Bears defender. Juraj Simek collected the bouncing puck in the left circle and sent a shot over a sprawling Bacashihua for his twentieth goal of the season.

Simek doubled Norfolk’s lead less than four minutes later. Adam Hall spotted Simek with a pass as the speedy left wing skated across the left circle. Bacashihua fell to the ice after Simek deked a forehand shot. Simek then skated past the prone goaltender and roofed a backhand shot into the net at 5:41 for a 4-2 lead.

Hall iced the victory for the Admirals with an empty-net goal with nine seconds remaining.

Dustin Tokarski (26 shots, 24 saves) earned his 27th victory of the season. Jason Bacashihua (28 shots, 24 saves) took the loss.

Both teams were 1-6 on power play.

Don’t miss a minute of Admirals action by purchasing your 2010-11 season tickets today. Affordable monthly payment plans are 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 anytime!

Three Stars:
1. Juraj Simek – NOR
2. Matt Fornataro – NOR
3. Paul Szczechura – NOR

NOTES … Norfolk finished the season with a 39-35-3-3 record for 84 points … That was an improvement of six wins and nine points over the 2008-09 season … Ryan Craig finished the season as Norfolk’s leading goal and point producer with 23 goals and 22 assists for 45 points … Dustin Tokarski started his 15th consecutive game, extending his own AHL Admirals franchise record for consecutive starts and passing Corey Crawford’s former AHL Admirals record for consecutive appearances … Tokarski’s 27th win tied him for the second-most wins in a single season in AHL Admirals history (Michael Leighton, 2001-02) … Defenseman Jeremy Dehner picked up an assist on Norfolk’s first goal for his first professional point … The regulation win by the Admirals tonight prevented the Bears from accumulating the most standings points in a single season in American Hockey League history. The Bears will finish with 123 points, trailing 1992-93 Binghamton Rangers by one point for the most in league history… Scratches: Kevin Quick, Dave Cowan, Matt Case, Justin Keller, Carter Ashton, Richard Panik, Jaroslav Janus, Taylor Vichorek … Attendance: 5,177

Typically the top four teams from each of the four divisions in the AHL advance to the Calder Cup Playoffs. The first round of the playoffs is the division semifinals, as each division's fourth-place team plays it's own division's first-place team while the second-place team plays the third-place team. Higher seeds receive home ice advantage in the best-of-seven series.

There is one possible exception to the qualification rules in 2009-10. If the fifth-place team in the Atlantic Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the East Division, it will cross over and compete in the East Division playoffs, thereby knocking the regular season's fourth-place finisher in the East Division out of the Calder Cup Playoffs. This rule was implemented for the 2009-10 season because there are eight teams in the Atlantic Division and only seven teams in the East Division.

This is the rule that will eliminate the Admirals from the playoffs. With 84 standings points, the Admirals finished as the fourth place team in the East Division in the regular season. However, both Bridgeport and Lowell have 86 points and currently are fourth and fifth in the Atlantic Division with one game remaining to play for each club. One of those teams will cross over to play Hershey in the East Division Semifinals next week.


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