It must have been a great ride home as the Norfolk Admirals notched their ninth consecutive win Sunday evening, setting a franchise record and coming home as East Division leaders. They notched one-goal wins in all three road games this weekend, including their 6th defeat over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Sunday.
The Admirals are on fire and have scorched a winning path right into first place in the Eastern Conference. Now at 75 points, the Admirals are tied for most points in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons. The Admirals are ahead of the Penguins by four points and Hershey trails by 8 points in the East Division. It’s been a neck-to-neck race with these three rivals over the last few months, and now Norfolk has blazed the trail for the lead.
Rejoining the Admirals from a recent trade by the Lightning, Brandon Segal made a notable return with three goals and an assist over the three games this weekend. He scored the winning goal against Hershey Saturday night, his second of the game. The game Saturday was a ping pong match of goals, as Hershey came back to answer the Admirals’ leading two goals and from there it was one-to-one until Segal’s goal ended the scoring for the night near the end of the second period for a 4-3 victory.
Mark Barberio and Michel Ouellet each scored goals and goaltender Jaroslav Janus made 25 saves in the victory over Hershey.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie made the game-winning goal Friday night against the Binghamton Senators. With just one minute left in regulation, Labrie picked up a rebound from Tyler Johnsons’ attempt and slipped the puck past Mike McKenna at 19:30 into the third.
The Senators lead the scoring with two goals in the first period but Norfolk got onto the scoreboard just 15 seconds into the second period with a goal from Brandon Segal. The scoring continued for the Admirals in the third period with a goal from Evan Oberg, which tied the game 2-2. It was then Labrie’s 13th goal of the season that won the game.
After Saturday night, you had to have wondered if the Admirals win streak would continue. They were up eight….could they make it nine straight wins? Could they come away undefeated against the Penguins at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton? With winning goalie Brad Thiessen making his NHL debut, perhaps the advantage was for the Admirals.
The first period was scoreless and it looked as if the second would be the same. However, with just over seven minutes remaining in the period, Penguin Ben Street scored. Mark Barberio then tied the game with his 9th goal of the season from a Tyler Johnson pass.
Jean-Philippe Cote scored his first Admirals goal to give his team the lead in the third period. The Penguins answered back about five minutes later to tie the score at 2-2. It was Carter Ashton who saved the game with his 19th goal of the season. Ashton found the rebound from the stick of Penguin goaltender Patrick Killeen and sent the puck home with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.
Despite a last-minute effort by the Penguins with a six-man advantage, the Admirals held onto their lead and advanced to their ninth consecutive victory.
What a weekend of hockey for the Norfolk Admirals. They have certainly shown the AHL a thing or two this season. There are stars in every game, but it is apparent that the entire team is one big star this time out. With nine consecutive wins under their belt, the team is on fire. Let’s hope that the fire continues to burn as they return home for a Wednesday night game against Hershey.
For now, the team’s got some celebrating to do. It’s not every day that a team can pull off nine straight wins against some of the league’s best. Wednesday night’s game should be quite a duel, as Hershey will no doubt pour it on to catch up with the division leaders. But judging on the recent play of the Admirals; the offensive depth, the strong defense, the limber, quick play of Tokarski and Janus; the team can dish out every bit of what they’re served.
Come out to the Scope Wednesday night to watch the Admirals take on the Hershey Bears. Follow that up on Friday and Saturday with matches against the Springfield Falcons. Will the Admirals sweep the week and broaden their streak to 12?
For more information about the Norfolk Admirals and a full game schedule, visit their website.