Defeat not so bad as River Rats clinch

Norfolk had more to play for Friday night, and it showed. The visiting Admirals fought for a 2-1 win

Norfolk had more to play for Friday night, and it showed.

The visiting Admirals fought for a 2-1 win over the Albany River Rats at the Times Union Center, keeping alive their hopes for the final playoff berth in the East Division.

“We didn’t play our best game, but I don’t want to take anything away from them,” Albany defenseman Tim Conboy said. “It was a big game for them to try to stay alive, and we just didn’t come with our best effort tonight. Hopefully, we can rebound and get it done tomorrow.”

Even with the loss, the River Rats clinched a playoff berth with a loss by the Lowell Devils. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton also lost, so an Alb­any win would have clinched the second seed in the East and home ice for the first round of the playoffs. The River Rats can clinch that seed tonight at 7 with a win over Adirondack.

Albany got on the board first when Jacob Micflikier chased down the puck in the right corner and fed Nicolas Blanchard in the slot. Blanchard had all day with no Norfolk defense nearby, and he buried the shot for a 1-0 lead at the 12:37 mark of the first period.

Justin Keller, however, answered for the Admirals at the 16:03 mark, quickly redirecting a pass from Blair Jones into the top left corner past goalie Justin Peters.

Keller also had the eventual winner when, at the 13:29 mark of the third period, a long pass from Matt Case found him at the River Rats’ blue line. Albany’s Kyle Lawson and Jonathan Paiement were nearby, but not close enough to put a stick or a body on him before his quick shot sailed into the top right corner of the goal.

“He made a nice shot,” Peters said. “But that’s one I want to stop. It’s a tough one to swallow, espec­ially when it turns out to be the game-winner. I want to stop that one for the team, and tomorrow night, I’ll be better.”

The 37-32-3-3 Admirals had several transition opportunities in the third period, but also had a lot of zone time as a result of Albany’s off-target play.

“We let them play in our zone too much, they had possession of the puck a lot,” Albay forward Mike Angelidis said. “We weren’t making tape-to-tape passes out there sometimes.”

With 11.2 seconds remaining and Peters pulled, Albany’s Chris Terry won the race to a puck behind the River Rats empty goal and was tossed into the boards by Dana Tyrell, who received two minutes for boarding. Terry spent a few seconds on the ice, but eventually skated off for an Albany timeout. He then returned for the power play. Zac Dalpe got a shot off with about three seconds remaining, but it missed to the left.

The 41-28-3-5 River Rats will play the franchise’s final regular-season home game tonight, and Albany coach Jeff Daniels said they want to end their stay in Albany with a win.

“This is going to be the last year here for this group of guys,” he said. “We want to make sure we end it on a good note, for all the support the fans have given us, not only this year, but last year, too.”

Norfolk 1 0 1 — 2

Albany 1 0 0 — 1

First Period — 1, Albany, Blanchard 14 (Micflikier, Samson), 12:37. 2, Norfolk, Keller 16 (Jones), 16:03. Penalties — Samson, Alb (tripping), 0:27; Conboy, Alb (interference), 17:18.

Second Period — None. Penalties — Jackson, Nor (roughing), 6:44; Herauf, Alb (roughing), 6:44; St. Pierre, Nor (hooking), 13:14; Fornataro, Nor (tripping), 19:52.

Third Period — 3, Norfolk, Keller 17 (Case, Jackson), 13:29. Penalties — Hall, Nor (charging), 1:47; Reid, Alb (hooking), 4:20; Ashton, Nor (slashing), 14:18; FitzGerald, Alb (roughing), 14:18; Tyrell, Nor (boarding), 19:48.

Shots on goal — Norfolk 9-7-8 — 24. Albany 6-15-11 — 32.

Power-play opportunities — Norfolk 0 of 3; Albany 0 of 4.

Goalies — Norfolk, Tokarski 24-22-3 (32 shots-31 saves); Albany, Peters, 24-16-2 (24-22).

A — 4,235. T — 2:17.

Referee — Chris Brown. Linesmen — Jim Briggs, Robert St. Lawrence.

Categories: -Sports-

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