1 Veteran Defenseman Nolan Yonkman scored his first of the season last Saturday against the Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) and his second against the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins) last night after going 115 regular season games between AHL goals.
2 Norfolk is now 2-0-0-0 this season against the Penguins. Goaltender John Gibson has been between the pipes for both wins, allowing just one goal and making 26 saves in both games. Rickard Rakell and Max Friberg have points in both games.
3 The Admirals continue to struggle to put shots on goal, ranking third worst in the AHL. Through 31 games they've fired the puck on net 840 times averaging 27.10 shots per game, while allowing 32.52 shots against.
4 Norfolk's streak of out-shooting opponents ended at four games on Friday in a win over Wlkes Barre-Scranton who out-shot the Admirals 27-22.
5 Charlie Sarault (5G, 5A) scored his fifth goal of the season against the Phantoms last Saturday night in a 3-1 victory.
6 Max Friberg has eight points in the six games since Dec. 14.
7 Norfolk is sub .500 at home. In 15 games they've lost seven times in regulation and twice in shootouts.
8 Steven Whitney scored his eighth goal of season against the Penguins after being a healthy scratch last Saturday.
9 Rickard Rakell has points in eight of nine games in December (1G, 10A).
10 Emerson Etem has ten points in December (4G, 6A). He's picked up three points in the past two games and has points in nine out of ten games he's played with Norfolk this season (5G, 10A).
--Norfolk went in to the Christmas break on a high note, picking up a good 3-1 character win Saturday night against the Phantoms. Igor Bobkov grabbed his second win of the season, allowing only one goal on 29 shots. His performance in his limited number of appearances this season should provide the coaching staff some confidence in decisions to rest John Gibson, who has been perhaps over-played to this point and showed signs of fatigue going in to last weekend. The win was also important for the confidence of the Admirals, as they had lost two straight games in which they scored four goals in each game but couldn't make the goals stand up for wins.
The Admirals carried their momentum through the Christmas break and in to Wilkes-Barre Scranton for a 3-1 win Friday night. With the victory, Norfolk has now won 11 consecutive regular season games over the Penguins at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza dating back to the 2011-12 season. The break seemed to help Gibson regain some of his "mojo" as he withstood a 15 shot second period barrage and held off several odd-man rushes, attempted deflections, and what should have been sure-thing wide-open net shots. Norfolk travels to Syracuse today and will hopefully be able to ride the two game streak to another win.
Consistency seems to be the theme of late. From players like Rakell and Friberg going on point scoring streaks, out-shooting opposing teams, or keeping opponents off the board on the PK, the Admirals are starting to show some steadiness in their games. While continuing to play 50/50 hockey, every game there is some aspect of their game that should be able to carry them to a win.
Up to this point, the Admirals have found a way to beat themselves, allowing five goals against after scoring four, failing to score on the Power Play for close to thirty attempts, spotting opposing teams early leads, or taking inopportune penalties. Now is the time the team needs to start putting it all together, go on some runs, and grab points. The veterans of last season need to step up and lead with the message that picking up points with half the season left is much more desirable than hoping they can make it to the post-season earning points in the last five must-win games.
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