|NORFOLK (5) vs. HERSHEY BEARS (4) OT|
NORFOLK, VA - Craig MacDonald' goal 4:41 into overtime sent a sellout crowd home happy, as the Norfolk Admirals (32-10-4-1) defeated the Hershey Bears (29-8-4-5) 5-4 on Friday night at Scope to solidify their first-place lead in the East Division and the AHL.
The Admirals scored just 1:25 into the game on a tic-tac-toe passing play. Pierre Parenteau, who was stationed at the top of the left faceoff circle, fired a pass to Martin St. Pierre at the right dot. St. Pierre wired a pass across the slot to Danny Richmond, who redirected it into the net from the top of the crease.
The Bears knotted the game at 1-1 five minutes later. Kyle Wilson snuck a backhander under Admirals goaltender Corey Crawford's glove at 6:53.
Another nice passing play put the Admirals back on top 2-1. Colin Fraser started the play by winning a battle for the puck along the right wall and sending the pass to MacDonald. The Admirals' captain sent a pass behind his back to Jonas Nordqvist at the left edge of the slot, and Nordqvist steered it past Hershey goaltender Daren Machesney at 12:36.
But the Bears evened the game at 2-2 with just 48 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Dave Steckel collected a loose puck along the side of the net and chipped it over Crawford's left leg for a power play tally.
Parenteau put Norfolk ahead 3-2 with a man advantage marker of his own 3:28 into the second period. He skated into the attacking zone along the left wing and sent a wrister top shelf, glove side on new Hershey goaltender Nolan Schaefer from the faceoff dot.
Fraser gave the Admirals some insurance five minutes later. He tapped home a feed from the edge of the crease with David Bolland and Nordqvist assisting on the play at 8:41.
The Admirals would need that insurance, as the Bears battled back to tie the game in the third period. Steckel made it a 3-2 game 3:58 into the third period by eluding a poke check at the right circle and deking to the opposite side of the crease before sliding the puck past Crawford's right leg.
A turnover led to the game-tying goal at 12:32, as Tomas Fleischmann faked a slap shot to freeze Crawford before slipping a shot into a yawning cage.
MacDonald won the game with just 19 seconds remaining in the extra session. After poke-checking the puck away from a Hershey attacker at the blueline, MacDonald nudged the puck ahead to Carl Corazzini. MacDonald then skated ahead to left circle, received a pass from Corazzini, and rifled a shot over Schaefer's right shoulder.
Crawford (35 shots, 31 saves) earned the victory. Machesney (6 shots, 4 saves) played 20 minutes and did not factor into the decision. Nolan Schaefer (16 shots, 13 saves) was saddled with the loss.
Both the Admirals and Bears were 1-4 on the power play.
Tonight's capacity crowd numbered at 8,784, breaking the record crowd of 7,209 for AHL Admirals hockey set just one week ago on January 19 versus Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Admirals now rank 15th in the 27-team American Hockey League in attendance with an average of 4,299 fans in 26 games thus far.
1. Craig MacDonald - NOR
2. Colin Fraser - NOR
3. Dave Steckel - HER