By Wil Goldsholl
Hartford, CT, November 24, 2012 - Chad Kolarik scored a goal in each period Saturday Night at the XL Center, as the Connecticut Whale knocked off the Norfolk Admirals by a count of 5-2.
The matchup was third of four meetings between the two squads this season; Norfolk won the first two in an October weekend sweep. The defending Calder Cup champions were just a point behind Connecticut in the Eastern Conference prior to the loss.
The Whale began the first period with several minutes of sustained pressure. “There’s no perfect hockey game… The togetherness tonight was where we needed to be and we’ll continue to work on the mistakes”, Coach Ken Gernander said of the performance.
John Kurtz was called for interference immediately after a face-off in Norfolk’s attacking end at 2:21, and Connecticut capitalized. Marek Hrivik went in to the corner and shoveled a backhand pass to Kolarik in the slot. Frederik Andersen came up with the first two stops but Kolarik jammed the third try past Andersen’s right pad to take the lead 19 seconds into the man advantage. The goal was Kolarik’s fourth of the season.
Norfolk had their first power play opportunity with just over nine minutes to play in the first, on Hrivik’s tripping minor. Kolarik saw a quick shorthanded chance, and Emerson Etem came as close to scoring as Norfolk would in the period when he hit the elbow over Cam Talbot’s glove side.
Norfolk killed one more penalty when Matt Smaby was called for crosschecking, and the Whale would take the 1-0 lead in to the first intermission.
The steady physicality from the first period boiled over in to the second when John Mitchell landed on top of Cam Talbot after a broken chance. Norfolk survived the third PK on the goaltender interference minor.
Mitchell again found his way to the penalty box, guilty of boarding Matt Gilroy just three minutes after his release. Brandon Segal took immediate exception to Mitchell’s tactics and they dropped the gloves. Segal would receive an instigator and ten minute misconduct in addition to the fighting major, which negated what would have been a fourth Whale power play of the night.
Kurtz scored his first of the year and cut Whale the lead in half 7:56 in, when Chris Wagner collected a rolling puck in open space. Talbot got his blocker on the initial drive from the circle and Kurtz finished to an open net.
Kolarik replied with his second of the night, tucking in a rebound just before the midway point in regulation time. Logan Pyett got the secondary assist and Hrivik picked up his second of three helpers. Hrivik totaled five points, all assists, in the two-game weekend.
Norfolk showed signs of life on offense following a late power play, but Talbot held up in net and received an ovation as the Whale led 2-1 through two.
Kolarik’s sixth of the season earned him his first hat trick as a Whale just over a minute into the third period, when he was once again the right place at the right time. Kris Newbury fed Hrivik, whose wrist shot slipped between Andersen’s legs and stalled a foot from the goal line. Kolarik would fight his way to the rebound for his third of the night from Hrivik. “I’m feeling 95%. Finally. I’m seeing the ice well, making crisp passes. And the puck is starting to go in, which is always a big confidence booster,” said Kolarik, who lost all of last season to injury.
Tommy Grant scored 74 seconds later, taking a high-to-low pass from Kelsey Tessier to make it 4-1.
Etem roofed one to the stick side with a snappy release to cut the deficit with six and a half to play, but Newbury would hit an empty net from his own goal line to seal the deal.
Talbot would finish with 29 stops on 31 shots against, while Andersen was even busier, stopping 33 of the 37 that he faced.
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Norfolk Admirals 2 at Connecticut Whale 5
Saturday, November 24, 2012 - XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Norfolk 0 1 1 - 2
Connecticut 1 1 3 - 5
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Kolarik 4 (Hrivik, Thomas), 2:40 (PP). Penalties-Kurtz Nor (interference), 2:21; Hrivik Ct (tripping), 10:56; Smaby Nor (cross-checking), 17:13.
2nd Period-2, Norfolk, Kurtz 1 (Wagner, Lindholm), 7:56. 3, Connecticut, Kolarik 5 (Hrivik, Pyett), 9:28. Penalties-Mitchell Nor (goaltender interference), 0:37; Mitchell Nor (boarding, fighting), 5:45; Segal Ct (instigating, fighting, misconduct - instigating), 5:45; Vernace Ct (closing hand on puck), 14:40.
3rd Period-4, Connecticut, Kolarik 6 (Hrivik, Newbury), 1:04. 5, Connecticut, Grant 7 (Tessier, Bourque), 2:18. 6, Norfolk, Etem 4 13:26. 7, Connecticut, Newbury 7 18:46 (EN). Penalties-Lindholm Nor (closing hand on puck), 6:27; Hendry Nor (boarding), 8:53; Kurtz Nor (roughing), 11:20; Vatanen Nor (misconduct - abuse of officials), 18:46; Holland Nor (fighting, game misconduct - secondary altercation), 19:11; Maroon Nor (fighting), 19:11; Miller Ct (fighting, game misconduct - secondary altercation), 19:11; Parlett Ct (major - charging, fighting, game misconduct - charging), 19:11.
Shots on Goal-Norfolk 10-11-10-31. Connecticut 15-10-13-38.
Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 0 / 3; Connecticut 1 / 6.
Goalies-Norfolk, Andersen 4-5-0 (37 shots-33 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 7-4-0 (31 shots-29 saves).
Referees-Trevor Hanson (47).
Linesmen-Brent Colby (7), Luke Galvin (2).
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