By Ronnie Shuker, The Canadian Press
TORONTO – Tyler Johnson and Mike Kostka each scored twice as the Norfolk Admirals defeated the Toronto Marlies 6-1 on Saturday to capture their first Calder Cup championship.
Richard Panik and Pierre-Cedric Labrie had the other goals for the Admirals, who swept the American Hockey League best-of-seven final.
Norfolk goalie Dustin Tokarski stopped 18 shots for his 12th win of the post-season and Cory Conacher chipped in with four assists. Johnson added two assists to also finish the night with four points.
Mike Zigomanis had the lone goal for Toronto. Ben Scrivens made 27 saves in front of a sell-out crowd of 8,084 at Ricoh Coliseum.
It’s the first championship title for Norfolk in its 12-year franchise history, capping off a remarkable and record-setting season.
In early February, the Admirals sat third in their division and were simply fighting for a playoff spot. But since a loss on Super Bowl Sunday to the Springfield Falcons, the Admirals went 43-3, which included a 28-game winning streak from Feb. 10 until April 20 – a professional hockey league record.
In the playoffs, Norfolk went 15-3, defeating the Manchester Monarchs 3-1, the Connecticut Whale 4-2 and then sweeping the St. John’s IceCaps and the Marlies.
Just as in the first three games of the series, Norfolk scored first in a chippy opening period with 31 minutes in penalties.
Panik, a 2009 second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, drove to the Marlies net and wristed a weak backhand shot toward the net that deflected off Marlies defenceman Juraj Mikus’s skate and in past Scrivens 6:17 into the game.
Toronto tied it with 16.1 seconds left in the period on a long 5-on-3 power play with Panik given a five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing.
The Marlies worked it around the perimeter until Joe Colborne found Zigomanis, playing just his second game of the series, alone at the side of the net for an easy tap in.
It was the first goal Tokarski had allowed in 88:36 after shutting out the Marlies 1-0 in Game 3 and just the second power-play goal for Toronto, which went just 2-for-26 on the man advantage in the series.
Norfolk retook the lead 4:26 into the second period on a delayed penalty call. Ondrej Palat dished from the behind the goal line to Game 3 overtime hero Kostka who ripped a shot from the point past a screened Scrivens for his fifth of the playoffs.
The Admirals then made it a 3-1 game at 16:45. After Scrivens made a sensational sliding blocker save on Johnson off a one-timer, Johnson picked up the rebound behind the net and banked it off Scrivens’ back and into the net.
The Admirals took a three-goal lead less than a minute into the third on the power play. Kostka, a hometown player from Etobicoke, Ont., blasted a shot from the top of the circle high past Scrivens.
Johnson, an undrafted free agent signing by Tampa Bay in 2011, got his second of the game at 12:35 with Scrivens pulled for an extra attacker. Labrie then made it 6-1 Norfolk, snapping in a rebound past Scrivens into an open net.
Norfolk Admirals 6 at Toronto Marlies 1 – Status: Final
Saturday, June 9, 2012 – Ricoh Coliseum
Norfolk 1 2 3 – 6
Toronto 1 0 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Norfolk, Panik 5 (Johnson, Conacher), 6:17. 2, Toronto, Zigomanis 4 (Colborne, Lashoff), 19:43 (PP). Penalties-Dupuis Tor (interference), 1:02; Aulie Nor (interference), 3:20; Holzer Tor (interference), 8:49; Mikus Tor (roughing), 12:46; Cote Nor (roughing, roughing), 17:24; Panik Nor (major – elbowing, game misconduct – elbowing), 17:24; Orr Tor (roughing), 17:24; Kostka Nor (high-sticking), 18:40.
2nd Period-3, Norfolk, Kostka 5 (Palat, Conacher), 4:26. 4, Norfolk, Johnson 5 (Killorn, Aulie), 16:45. Penalties-Angelidis Nor (roughing), 9:50; Colborne Tor (holding), 18:02; Zigomanis Tor (slashing), 18:37; Holzer Tor (slashing), 19:25.
3rd Period-5, Norfolk, Kostka 6 (Conacher, Johnson), 0:44 (PP). 6, Norfolk, Johnson 6 (Cote, Conacher), 12:35 (EN). 7, Norfolk, Labrie 5 (Ouellet, Smith), 13:33. Penalties-Lashoff Tor (roughing), 4:39; Mikus Tor (tripping), 7:30; Angelidis Nor (slashing), 9:47.
Shots on Goal-Norfolk 12-12-8-32. Toronto 8-7-4-19.
Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 1 / 8; Toronto 1 / 6.
Goalies-Norfolk, Tokarski 12-2-0 (19 shots-18 saves). Toronto, Scrivens 11-6-0 (31 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Graham Skilliter (48), Terry Koharski (10).
Linesmen-Kiel Murchison (35), Matt MacPherson (83).