NORFOLK, Va. – Mike Kostka scored twice as 13 of 18 Norfolk skaters registered points in a 6-1 throttling of St. John’s in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The same two teams square off Saturday night at Scope for Game 2 at 8:00 p.m.
Kostka scored two of four goals by Admirals defensemen in the victory, joining single tallies from Jean-Philippe Cote and Keith Aulie. Michel Ouellet and Ondrej Palat also scored for Norfolk, while Dustin Tokarski (5-2) stopped 29 of 30 shots for the win.
The first goal of the game did not come until 18:55 of the opening period when Kostka fired a power play slapshot past St. John’s goaltender Eddie Pasquale. Evan Oberg passed to Kostka at the top of the Norfolk offensive zone to start the play. Kostka wound up and fired a slapshot through traffic, beating Pasquale between his left leg and glove.
Norfolk added to their lead with another power play goal early in the second period. Tyler Johnson had the puck at the top of the left circle and passed it to Ouellet, who took the pass at the bottom of the circle. Ouellet skated towards net, sending a shot that bounced off Pasquale. Ouellet backhanded the rebound between Pasquale’s right leg and the post at 3:08 to make it a 2-0 Norfolk advantage.
Eight minutes later, Kostka extended the Norfolk lead with a goal very similar to his first. The play started with a Philip-Michael Devos feed along the wall from behind the St. John’s net. The puck found its way around the boards to a waiting Kostka. From the top of the right circle, Kostka fired another slapshot through traffic into the back of the net, making it 3-0 Norfolk at 11:04.
Continuing with the theme of successful slapshots by defensemen, Cote added Norfolk’s fourth goal at 13:42 of the second period. Trevor Smith had the puck in the middle of the left circle when he spotted Cote alone in the high slot. With no defenders around him, Cote wound up and fired a shot that grazed the shoulder of Pasquale before going into the net and making it 4-0 Norfolk. The IceCaps would bring in David Aebischer to relieve Pasquale at this point.
The Norfolk surge continued into the third period with a Palat goal at 1:28. Cory Conacher began the play after he poked the puck loose from a St. John’s player in the Norfolk zone. Johnson then began a two-on-one break. Johnson skated until the middle of the right circle where he passed across to Palat on the edge of the left circle. Palat beat Aebischer with a snap shot, blocker side, for a 5-0 lead.
St. John’s responded with a power play goal by Zach Redmond at the 2:11 mark. Brock Trotter skated the puck down to the middle of the right circle before throwing the puck behind the Norfolk net. As the puck emerged from behind the net near the left circle, Redmond reached for it, gathered it and banked a shot off Tokarski and into the net to make it 5-1 Norfolk.
Five minutes later in the third, Norfolk struck again, this time during four-on-four play. Palat skated down the right side of the ice after a pass from Conacher. When he reached the bottom of the right circle, Palat passed across the slot to Keith Aulie, who one-timed it past Aebischer to make it 6-1 Norfolk.
Eddie Pasquale (7-5) stopped 17 of 21 shots for the loss in the first 33:42 of the game. Aebischer (0-0) saw his first 26:18 of action in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs, making 10 saves on 12 shots.
Norfolk was 2-for-5 on the power play. St. John’s was 1-for-7 with the man advantage.
St. John’s IceCaps 1 at Norfolk Admirals 6 – Status: Final
Thursday, May 17, 2012 – Norfolk Scope
St. John’s 0 0 1 – 1
Norfolk 1 3 2 – 6
1st Period-1, Norfolk, Kostka 2 (Oberg, Smith), 18:55 (PP). Penalties-Gudas Nor (elbowing), 5:08; Aulie Nor (double minor – high-sticking), 13:22; Sawada Stj (high-sticking), 15:05; Barberio Nor (delay of game), 15:32; Cormier Stj (goaltender interference), 17:02.
2nd Period-2, Norfolk, Ouellet 1 (Johnson, Barberio), 3:08 (PP). 3, Norfolk, Kostka 3 (Devos, Angelidis), 11:04. 4, Norfolk, Cote 1 (Smith, Labrie), 13:42. Penalties-Clark Stj (high-sticking), 1:24; Cote Nor (hooking), 16:24.
3rd Period-5, Norfolk, Palat 4 (Johnson, Conacher), 1:28. 6, St. John’s, Redmond 1 (Trotter, Postma), 2:11 (PP). 7, Norfolk, Aulie 1 (Palat, Conacher), 7:21. Penalties-Devos Nor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 1:35; Murray Stj (roughing, fighting), 3:01; Angelidis Nor (fighting), 3:01; Johnson Nor (slashing), 5:25; Trotter Stj (high-sticking), 5:40; Picard Nor (slashing), 15:16; Albert Stj (elbowing), 18:03; Clark Stj (roughing), 18:03; Murray Stj (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:03; Picard Nor (roughing, misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:03.
Shots on Goal-St. John’s 14-9-7-30. Norfolk 11-13-9-33.
Power Play Opportunities-St. John’s 1 / 7; Norfolk 2 / 5.
Goalies-St. John’s, Pasquale 7-5-0 (21 shots-17 saves); Aebischer 0-0-0 (12 shots-10 saves). Norfolk, Tokarski 5-2-0 (30 shots-29 saves).
Referees-Francis Charron (46), Terry Koharski (10).
Linesmen-Mathieu Chenier (71), Tom George (61).