Wright Place, Wright Time - Offense Explodes as Admirals Sink Senators
NORFOLK, Va. – James Wright broke a 28-game goalless drought with a hat trick and added an assist for a four-point night to lead the Norfolk Admirals (33-19-8-5) to an 8-3 victory over the Binghamton Senators (33-25-3-4) on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. Norfolk’s lead over Binghamton for the fourth and final guaranteed playoff spot in the AHL’s East Division increased to six points, as the Admirals won two of the three consecutive games they played against the Senators since last Sunday.
The Admirals will travel to Hershey on Sunday to face the Bears at 5:00 p.m.
Johan Harju (1G, 2A) and Matt Fornataro (0G, 3A) each had three-point performances for Norfolk. Paul Szczechura scored twice and Harju, Mark Barberio and Marc-Antoine Pouliot each added single tallies. Dustin Tokarski stopped 14 of 17 shots for his eighteenth win of the season.
Norfolk won despite surrendering the game's first two goals. The Senators took a 1-0 lead 4:20 into the game. Roman Wick attempted a pass from behind the net towards a teammate in the right corner. However, the puck deflected off the skate of an Admirals defender toward the net. Tokarski attempted to trap the puck under his glove, but it trickled into the crease and Jim O’Brien poked it into the net.
Binghamton’s lead doubled just over three minutes later. Mike Hoffman sent a no-look, backhand pass from the right corner into the slot. Cody Bass one-timed the puck into the cage at 7:26.
Norfolk’s comeback began less than seven minutes later on the power play. Harju streaked into the attacking zone unimpeded on Senators goaltender Barry Brust. As Brust attempted a poke-check, Harju was able to lift a shot over the right shoulder of the goaltender and into the top corner of the net for his team-leading twenty-first goal at 14:08.
The Admirals tied the game at 2-2 exactly two minutes later on a goalmouth scramble. Harju sent a shot from the right point into a maze of bodies on top of the goalmouth. Szczechura scored on the second rebound by sliding the loose puck around the left leg of Brust at 16:08.
Norfolk claimed the lead 10:42 into the second stanza on Barberio’s ninth goal of the season. Stefano Giliati sent a behind-the-back pass from the goalmouth to Barberio in the left circle. Barberio sent a slap shot into the net to put Norfolk ahead 3-2.
The Admirals’ lead doubled just over six minutes later. After Wright won a faceoff in the left circle, Pouliot carried the puck through the circle toward the slot and attempted a pass to the right circle. However, the puck caromed off a Senators defenseman and went into the net at 16:53.
Norfolk scored its fifth unanswered goal just 44 seconds into the third period. With Giliati obstructing the goaltender’s vision in the low slot, Szczechura floated a high shot from the left point past a screened Brust for his second goal of the night and sixteenth of the season.
Wright's first goal of the game put Norfolk ahead 6-2 less than six minutes later. Scott Jackson sent a shot from the left point. Wright found the rebound and sent a backhand shot past Brust at 7:16.
Binghamton answered with a power play goal at 8:33. Kaspars Daugavins sent a wrist shot from the left circle into the net through the blocker and right leg of Tokarski to cut Norfolk’s lead to 6-3.
However, the Admirals responded with their own power play goal at 15:53. Alex Berry sent a shot from the low slot that bounced off new Senators goaltender Mike Brodeur. Wright found the rebound to Brodeur's left and lifted a shot over the diving goaltender for his second goal of the game and a 7-3 Norfolk lead.
Wright finished the hat trick with his fourteenth goal of the season with just 38 seconds remaining in regulation. Pouliot spotted Wrigth with a pass to Brodeur's right and the second-year pro sent a shot past Brodeur's stick and into the net to close out scoring in Norfolk's 8-3 victory.
Dustin Tokarski (17 shots, 14 saves) improved his season record to 18-15-4. Barry Brust (35 shots, 29 saves) fell to 24-15-1 in 47:45 of work. Mike Brodeur (6 shots, 4 saves) did not receive a decision.
Norfolk was 2-5 on the power play. Binghamton was 1-3.
The Admirals will travel to Hershey on Sunday to face the Bears at 5:00 p.m. Next week, Norfolk hosts the Albany Devils on Friday and Saturday nights at Scope.
Friday night is Team Poster Giveaway Night, presented by Supercuts. The first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive an Admirals team poster courtesy of Supercuts.
Friday night is also Cheesy Noisemaker Night to benefit Wave City Care. Fans are encouraged to bring boxes of non-perishable food, such as macaroni and cheese, to the game. During the game, use the food as a noisemaker. After the game, drop your food in the designated locations throughout the arena and it will be donated by Wave City Care to those in need in Hampton Roads. You can also purchase $10 fundraising tickets for Friday's game through norfolkadmirals.com before Thursday. Proceeds from those ticket sales will benefit Wave City Care.
Finally, students, teachers and staff of Virginia Beach Public Schools can purchase tickets to Friday's game for only $8 when purchased by Thursday evening at norfolkadmirals.com.
Saturday night marks the eleventh annual Admirals MDA Jersey Auction, Presented by PAPCO. The Admirals will don one-of-a-kind jerseys during the game. Immediately following the game, a live auction will take place on the ice with the jerseys being auctioned right off the players' backs. Proceeds benefit the Hampton Roads Muscular Dystrophy Association. Fans can also help the local MDA by purchasing $10 tickets for Saturday night's game through the Admirals' website at norfolkadmirals.com. Ticket purchases must be completed by Friday night.
Individual tickets for all regular season games start at just $12. Tickets are available now at the Scope Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at ticketmaster.com.
Season tickets for the 2011-12 season are now available! Low monthly payments 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 norfolkadmirals.com anytime for more details or to purchase your tickets!
1. James Wright – NOR
2. Paul Szczechura – NOR
3. Johan Harju – NOR
NOTES … In the East Division, Norfolk (79 points, 15 games remaining) leads Binghamton (73 points, 15 games remaining) by six points for fourth place. Third-place Charlotte (80 points, 14 games remaining) was idle today, as the Admirals closed their deficit on the Checkers to one point. Norfolk remains six points back of second-place Hershey (85 points, 13 games remaining) after the Bears defeated Connecticut 2-1 tonight … The top four spots in the East Division are guaranteed to qualify for the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs. The crossover rule is in effect where if the fifth place team in the East Division has more points than the fourth place team in the Atlantic Division, that team will cross over into the Atlantic Division Semifinals. For complete standings and an explanation of the qualification rules for the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs, please visit theahl.com … Norfolk's eight goals established a new season high for offense and tied the AHL Admirals franchise record … Seven different players registered multiple points for Norfolk: James Wright (3G, 1A), Johan Harju (1G, 2A), Matt Fornataro (0G, 3A), Paul Szczechura (2G, 0A), Marc-Antoine Pouliot (1G, 1A), Alex Berry (0G, 2A) and Stefano Giliati (0G, 2A) … Prior to his hat trick tonight, Wright last scored a goal 28 games ago on January 7 vs. Connecticut … Mark Barberio set a new Norfolk record for goals in a season by a rookie defenseman with his ninth goal of 2010-11, passing Dustin Byfuglien (2005-06) and Anton Babchuk's (2003-04) eight goals … With nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points, Barberio is now just one point away from tying the record for most points in a season by a Norfolk rookie currently held by James Wisniewski (2004-05) and Duncan Keith (2003-04) … Earlier today, the Tampa Bay Lightning reassigned goaltender Jaroslav Janus to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades, as goaltender Cedrick Desjardins served as tonight's backup goaltender after missing 23 games due to injury. Desjardins was injured on January 16 at Charlotte ... Chris Durno served the second game of his three-game suspension... Scratches: Kevin Quick, Mitch Fritz.