By Brian Ring
Norfolk, VA – The Connecticut Whale were defeated by the Norfolk Admirals, 3-1, Friday night at the Norfolk Scope in Virginia before a crowd of 4,598. League-leading goal scorer Cory Conacher earned the game-winning goal for Norfolk and Mark Barberio assisted on two of the Admirals’ goals.
Aaron Voros collected the lone goal of the game for Connecticut, coming midway through the third period.
“Early we had some penalties, we didn’t forecheck the way we did in the third period,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “We were a little better on the forecheck (in the third), a little more aggressive on the walls and as far as putting pucks to the net.”
The Admirals struck first, as Mike Kostka scored for the Admirals on the power-play at 11:51 of the opening period. Michel Ouellet and Barberio both assisted on Kostka’s score, which came on the first of three straight power-plays afforded to Norfolk in the first period. Whale goaltender Chad Johnson (31 saves) made a quality initial save in front, but Kostka was able to gather the rebound with Johnson sprawled out for an easy chip-in.
Conacher would put Norfolk up 2-0 just under two minutes into the second period, his shot eluding Johnson for his league-leading 22nd goal of the season. Carter Ashton assisted on the goal, as did Barberio, who gathered his second helper of the game.
Through two periods, the Whale were outshot by Norfolk, 28-19, while granting the Admirals five chances with the man-advantage to their pair of opportunities.
The Admirals scored their third unanswered goal 6:58 into the third period, as Matt Fornataro converted a rebound that squeaked past Johnson. The lone assist on the score went to Philip-Michael Devos.
The Whale would get one back to close within 3-1 at the 11:10 mark, as Voros managed to use all of his strength to put a loose puck past Norfolk goaltender Dustin Tokarski (25 saves). Voros’ goal, his third, was assisted by Pavel Valentenko and Mats Zuccarello, playing in his first game since Dec. 9.
Connecticut, however, could get no closer despite a pair of third period power-play opportunities, and the Whale dropped their fifth straight overall (0-3-1-1).
The Whale will have a chance to split the two game set with the Admirals Saturday night at the Norfolk Scope (7:15). The game will be aired live on “Beethoven Radio” AM 1290.
“It’s an opportunity for us to get right back at it. We have to make a few corrections for tomorrow and get better in a couple areas, but it will be good to get right back at it,” said Gernander.
The next home game for the Whale will be Jan. 20, when they host the St. John’s IceCaps at 7:00 PM.
Tickets to the January 20 game, the January 21 CWHL double-header vs. Norfolk, Trading Card Weekend and CT Hockey Hall of Fame Night, and all 2011-12 Whale home games, are on sale now at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, as well as on-line at www.ctwhale.com and through TicketMaster Charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.
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Connecticut Whale 1 at Norfolk Admirals 3
Friday, January 13, 2012 – Norfolk Scope
Connecticut 0 0 1 – 1
Norfolk 1 1 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Norfolk, Kostka 6 (Ouellet, Barberio), 11:51 (PP). Penalties-Angelidis Nor (interference), 0:40; Bell Ct (interference), 10:40; Nightingale Ct (fighting), 13:05; Jackson Nor (fighting), 13:05; Grant Ct (boarding), 14:48; Valentenko Ct (holding), 19:13.
2nd Period-2, Norfolk, Conacher 22 (Ashton, Barberio), 1:58. Penalties-Newbury Ct (fighting), 2:38; Angelidis Nor (fighting), 2:38; Gudas Nor (hooking), 5:14; McKelvie Ct (roughing, fighting), 8:21; Gudas Nor (fighting), 8:21; Thuresson Ct (tripping), 12:36.
3rd Period-3, Norfolk, Fornataro 4 (Devos), 6:58. 4, Connecticut, Voros 3 (Valentenko, Zuccarello), 11:10. Penalties-Fornataro Nor (tripping), 9:05; Nightingale Ct (roughing), 12:14; Thuresson Ct (roughing), 12:14; Angelidis Nor (boarding), 12:14; Cote Nor (roughing), 12:14; Picard Nor (roughing), 12:14.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 13-6-7-26. Norfolk 17-11-6-34.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 0 / 4; Norfolk 1 / 5.
Goalies-Connecticut, Johnson 10-7-4 (34 shots-31 saves). Norfolk, Tokarski 15-9-0 (26 shots-25 saves).
Referees-Mark Lemelin (41), Graham Skilliter (48).
Linesmen-Brian Oliver (80), Scott Pomento (25).