SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Johan Harju had two goals and an assist, but the Norfolk Admirals (38-26-9-6) surrendered two power play goals and two shorthanded goals as they fell to the Syracuse Crunch (34-38-3-4), 5-4, on Saturday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter. The Admirals will conclude the 2010-11 regular season tomorrow evening against the Connecticut Whale. The puck drops at 5:00 p.m.
If Norfolk wins tomorrow against Connecticut, they will play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first round of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs. If Norfolk loses tomorrow against Connecticut (in regulation, overtime or a shootout), they will play the Manchester Monarchs in the first round of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Alex Berry and Mike Vernace also scored for Norfolk against the Crunch tonight while goaltender Dustin Tokarski stopped 26 of 31 shots.
Norfolk opened scoring midway through the first period on Harju’s first goal of the contest. Paul Szczechura sent an attempted pass off the skate of a Crunch defender. The puck caromed to the stick of Harju, who gave the Admirals the 1-0 lead at 11:04.
The Crunch tied the game at 1-1 just 2:17 into the second period on the power play. Rick Schofield won a faceoff back to Kyle Palmieri at the top of the left circle. Palmieri took a stride toward the slot before sending a wrist shot past Tokarski.
Norfolk briefly took a 2-1 lead as Berry broke a 13-game goalless drought at 7:39. He took a feed from Mathieu Roy in the right circle and sent a shot over the glove of Crunch goaltender Igor Bobkov for his fourteenth goal of the season.
However, Syracuse took only 16 seconds to tie the game at 2-2. Maxime Macenauer converted a backdoor feed from Josh Green at 7:55.
Syracuse used a pair of shorthanded goals midway through the second period to take their first lead of the game. Green sent a shot into the top of the net at 10:05. Nicolas Deschamps finished an end-to-end rush for another shorthanded goal at 11:45.
Norfolk cut its deficit to one goal 6:52 into the final frame with Harju’s second goal of the game. Mark Barberio sent a feed from the left corner to Harju on the opposite side of the goalmouth. Harju took two shots on Bobkov, scoring on the rebound for his 23rd goal of the season.
Syracuse briefly restored its two-goal lead with another power play goal 10:48 into the third period. Patrick Maroon found a loose puck in a goalmouth scramble and scored a four-on-three power play goal for a 5-3 Crunch lead.
Vernace cut Syracuse’s lead to 5-4 with 5:14 remaining in regulation with his seventh goal of the season. Troy Milam attempted a shot that was blocked. Vernace stepped into a slap shot from the top of the left circle and scored through a screen.
However, Norfolk was unable to find the tying goal and fell to the Crunch, 5-4.
Dustin Tokarski (31 shots, 26 saves) took the loss. Igor Bobkov (38 shots, 34 saves) got the win.
Norfolk was 0-3 on the power play. Syracuse was 2-2.
The Admirals will conclude the 2010-11 regular season tomorrow evening against the Connecticut Whale. The puck drops at 5:00 p.m. Follow all of the action at 102.1-FM and 1490-AM The Game, 1021TheGame.com and ahllive.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. Josh Green – SYR
2. Johan Harju – NOR
3. Nicolas Deschamps – SYR
EAST DIVISION PLAYOFF RACE … The Norfolk Admirals (38-26-9-5, 91 points) have clinched a berth in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs … With one game remaining in the regular season, Norfolk has 91 points and is in fifth place in the AHL's East Division. The fourth-place Binghamton Senators (42-30-3-5, 92 points) lost to the Adirondack Phantoms tonight, 2-1, to finish their regular season. Because the Senators have the first standings tiebreaker (Binghamton has 41 combined regulation and overtime wins as opposed to Norfolk’s 33), the Admirals must pick up two points in tomorrow’s game against the Connecticut Whale to pass the Senators for fourth place in the East Division … If Norfolk finishes in fourth place, they will play the AHL’s regular season champions, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (57-21-0-1, 113 points), in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs … If Norfolk remains in fifth place in the East Division after tomorrow’s regular season finale, they will cross over into the Atlantic Division Semifinals where they will be the #3 seed, squaring off against the Atlantic’s #2 seed team, the Manchester Monarchs (44-25-4-6, 98 points).
NOTES … Mattias Ritola’s eight-game point streak ended (8G, 10A) … Norfolk allowed six power play goals to Syracuse on eight Crunch opportunities in their back-to-back games … Dustin Tokarski denied Maxime Macenauer on a penalty shot 7:17 into the game. Norfolk goaltenders have stopped all four penalty shots attempted against them in 2010-11 … Did not play: Kevin Quick, Levi Nelson, Chris Durno, Mitch Fritz, Cedrick Desjardins, Pat Nagle, Matt Fornataro.