John Gibson continues to excel.
Norfolk made it out of the first round of the 2014 AHL Playoffs on a bit of luck and goaltending. This combination got them past the top-seeded Manchester Monarchs. Their reward? A second-round, best-of-seven series with the St. John’s IceCaps. With all three Eastern Conference division leaders knocked out, St. John’s took over the top seed. The team was all about scoring goals during the regular season, like Manchester. After one game, the Admirals look to be using the same formula against the IceCaps.
Norfolk came out with a nice back-and-forth pace in the first period, getting some decent chances. Both John Gibson and IceCaps netminder Michael Hutchinson were up to the task. It would remain deadlocked until the middle of the first, when Andre Petersson would steal a puck and feed it to Nic Kerdiles, who would fire it for the 1-0 Admirals lead. Norfolk would take the advantage into the second period. In the second, vintage 2013-14 Admirals would return.
It’s not a particularly good year for offensive Norfolk hockey. Like last Wednesday’s game, the Ads would find themselves outshot by a staggering count of 18-5. Thanks to John Gibson continuing his superhero streak in goal they would end the period unscathed. Its amazing that the team continues to make it out of these holes that they put themselves in. The third period would prove to be the most action packed in terms of scoring.
Early in the period, Chris Wagner took a penalty for a trip. As he was exiting the box, the IceCaps’ Josh Morrissey would fire a shot that would be tipped in by Andrew Gordon. This would tie up the game. It was the only blemish for Gibson aside for a tripping penalty he was assessed in the 2nd period. Minutes after Gordon’s goal Norfolk would find the back of the net. Kevin Gagne would fire a shot at the goal, and Zack Stortini would pass it to John Kurtz, who would score. Ultimately, it was the deciding marker.
Stortini–who has been the subject of criticism in this space–has played decently in the postseason. He has had a few opportunities that look like scoring chances, has tried to keep play alive, and is generally not as big of a liability as he was during the regular season. I still stand by what I said in the regular season. I am willing to admit when a player contributes.
St. John’s would once again own the shot clock in the third, at 15-9. It would not matter, as John Gibson stopped everything that came his way. Nic Kerdiles would add an empty net goal to seal it. Norfolk would take a 1-0 series lead.
Once again, Norfolk finds themselves in an advantageous position as an underdog. They’ve assured themselves a small window of home ice, if it comes to a game 5. John Gibson has more than proven his talent and ability to play in this situation. The Admirals need to stop getting into this habit of giving up almost 20+ shots a period. Those are numbers you want for the game, not twenty minutes.
William Karlsson made it back for game one…. Norm Ezekiel played in his first playoff game… game 2 tomorrow at 6PM…Highlights…