1 Goalie Igor Bobkov started in the first game of the new year and picked up the Admirals first win of 2014, stopping 23 of 24 shots by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders). Since being recalled, Bobkov has four wins in five games, winning three straight, allowing ten goals against, and posting a very respectable 1.63 GAA and a .939 Save Percentage. His hardest workout thus far was a 37 save win against the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning) last Saturday.
2 Kevin Gagne is ranked second among defensemen in the AHL, first among all rookies, in Power Play Assists. In fact all 12 of his assists this season have been on the Power Play.
3 Winger Max Friberg scored his ninth goal of season, his third shorthanded, against the Crunch last Saturday. He is currently ranked first among rookies in short-handed goals.
4 Alex Grant is ranked fourth among defensemen in shots with 87. He totaled 31 in December alone despite missing four games.
5 Dave Steckel is on a five game road assist streak (five assists) dating back to Dec 15.
6 Emerson Etem is on a four game assist streak (five assists) and a six game point streak (6G,7A).
7 Jessie Blacker led all Norfolk defensemen in plus/minus for December at plus7, picking up seven points along the way (1G,6A).
8 Devante Smith-Pelly scored his eighth goal of the season against Bridgeport Friday night, a beautiful (and rare) tic-tac-toe power play goal (Go to the :55 sec mark of the link for the goal) Highlights courtesy of WAVY.com
9 Chris Wagner scored his fifth goal and added his ninth helper against Syracuse last Saturday.
10 Rickard Rakell scored his tenth goal of the season against the Sound Tigers Friday night. Rakell is currently ranked ninth among rookies in scoring, amassing 24 points in 28 games played (10G, 14A). He currently leads the Admirals in points but is only two ahead of Etem.
--I was going to start out with news that Admirals and Ducks fans should be excited to see, but to stretch out the anticipation I decided to go with Happy New Year!
Now back to business:
--Emerson Etem was named CCM/AHL Player of the Month for December totaling 15 points (7g, 8a) and a plus-6 rating in nine games played for Norfolk last month. He had five multi-point games in December, notched five goals and six assists in the last two weeks of the month, including a three point night (2G, 1A) on Dec. 28 at Syracuse. Etem has 22 points in just 13 games played for the Admirals. For comparison, Norfolk's leading scorer Rickard Rakell has 24 points, but it took him 28 games to get there.
--Igor Bobkov. I've already quoted stats above, so I won't bore you with more here, though it should be telling that the last six games the Admirals have played have been split between both John Gibson and "Bobber," with Gibson going 1-2 and Bobkov winning all three of his starts. I'm not suggesting that Bobber has in any way taken the number one job from Gibson, but to hear Coach Yawney say that Bobkov deserved the start (and the win) last night post-game relayed a sense of confidence that was not there earlier in the season.
Bobkov gave credit to his goalie coach and talked about simplifying his game, and Yawney remarked that he noticed a difference between last season and this one, noting that Bobkov learned a lot from last year and this year, reminding us that he was playing well in Utah as well. It would be nice to see Bobkov continue to play at this level, especially if personnel moves take place that ship a goalie or two out of the organization at the trade deadline.
--Admirals fans are enjoying an excess of riches right now with the way many of the players have "switched on" over the past few weeks. John Gibson looks like he's benefited from the Christmas break and regained his form; Bobkov seems to have found his game; Etem, Rakell, and Friberg are going at almost a point per game. Etem, Smith-Pelly, and Rakell are getting time on the Power Play as well as the Penalty Kill, so the "well-rounded" players that Ducks' management wants are being developed more and more every game. Luckily for Admirals' fans, that development has resulted in some solid play, some exciting goals, and some highlight reel saves.
Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead