I went into Wednesday night’s game with the optimistic prediction of a 5-1 win over Hershey. Little did I know what the Norfolk Admirals had in store. The team pulled out all its guns Wednesday night against the Hershey Bears, never letting up even when they went to the locker room after the second period with a 4-1 lead.
Both defensively and offensively the Admirals put out an effort rivaled by none. Their passing, although with a few minor misses, was dead on and they managed to out-stick Hershey throughout the game. With swift and sure stick checks and accurate handling, the Admirals brought the puck through the attacking Bears. Norfolk dominated, blocking Hershey’s attempts at goal after the Bears’ one and only at 7:44 in the opening period.
Five minutes after Hershey opened scoring Mattias Ritola scored his first Admiral goal, tying the game at 1-1 with the rebound from a Matt Fornataro shot. Goaltender Dustin Tokarski also earned an assist for this goal after passing the puck following a close save. Go, Tic!
The Admirals were on their way to completely closing out the Bears for the rest of the game with a Blair Jones goal 9:05 into the second period. Taken from a Mike Vernace feed, Jones faked and weaved the puck through Hershey’s defense.
Just seconds later, Jones struck again with his second goal of the night and his record-making 20th of the season. Taken from a blocked clearing attempt by Hershey, Troy Milan sent the puck to Marc-Antoine Pouliot who passed to Jones for a beauty of a shot. Jones has been on a streak lately, making countless shots and playing his heart out for the team. It’s always good to see him sink one in.
Pouliot would go on to score a goal of his own on a power play seconds before the end of the period from a pass sent from Milam, making the tally 4-1.
As the Admirals exited the ice after the second period to standing applause, I hoped that the team kept up the momentum in the third so as not to allow Hershey to catch up. The Admirals did not disappoint. Admirals Captain Chris Durno capped the score at 5-1 with a goal just 32 seconds into the final period. It was a smooth wraparound shot that lead Hershey to replace goalie Jared DeMichiel with rookie Shane Owen.
Ritola topped the game with his second goal of the night at 13:17 into the third period. Pouliot earned the assist.
Admirals goaltender Dustin Tokarski was incredible in net, making 28 saves. He was well assisted by Norfolk defense.
Overall, the game was played fast and hard on skill. There were a few ruffled feathers on the part of the Bears, but only one fight. Matt Fornataro matched fists with Hershey Bear Andrew Carroll, resulting in the sole fighting penalties of the night.
The Admirals go on the road now for games Friday, Saturday and Sunday against Albany, Hershey and Binghamton respectively. They return home Wednesday, March 9 to battle the Binghamton Senators.
For more information about the Norfolk Admirals and upcoming games, visit their website.