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AHL Weekly Release

WEEKLY RELEASE #23

AHL Standings || Scores and Schedules || League Leaders

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.News and notes from around the American Hockey League, where the playoff picture is just as cloudy as ever:

ADMIRALS LOG MORE W’S … A historic winning streak has sent the Norfolk Admirals to the top of the AHL standings heading into the final month of the 2011-12 season. Norfolk has reeled off 15 consecutive wins, most recently a three-game weekend road sweep through Adirondack, Connecticut and Bridgeport, and at 42-18-1-2 the Admirals own the most wins and points (87) in the league. Norfolk is also first in points percentage (.690), goals scored (226) and goal differential (+62), opening up an eight-point lead in search of its first East Division title since 2003.

Only two teams in AHL history – the 2004-05 Philadelphia Phantoms (17) and the 1984-85 Baltimore Skipjacks (16) – have won more consecutive games within a single season than these Admirals. Norfolk has outscored its opposition by a 60-26 count during the streak, winning seven times at home and eight on the road.

All three of Norfolk’s weekend victories came with Jaroslav Janus (15-8-2, 2.75, .905) in net, as the second-year pro became the first goaltender in franchise history to win three games in three days. Janus got the call following the recall by Tampa Bay of Dustin Tokarski (27-11-0, 2.34, .907), the AHL wins leader who made his first career NHL start for the Lightning on Mar. 8.

No one in the AHL has put up more points than Admirals rookie Tyler Johnson since Norfolk’s winning streak began on Feb. 10. Johnson, the reigning Reebok/AHL Player of the Week, has 9-15-24 and a plus-14 rating in his last 15 contests, including 6-7-13 in six games since the Admirals lost another high-scoring rookie, Carter Ashton, in a deadline-day trade on Feb. 27. For the season, Johnson ranks fourth among AHL rookies with 24 goals and third with 52 points.

Fellow rookie Cory Conacher continues to be one of the best stories in the AHL this season; the undrafted forward out of Canisius College ranks second in the entire league in goals (31) and third in points (68), and is tied for the league lead with 13 power-play markers. Trevor Smith (22-38-60) ranks sixth in the league in scoring and also places third in plus/minus rating (+25), trailing only teammate Pierre-Cedric Labrie (+27) among AHL forwards. The Admirals’ arsenal also includes former AHL All-Stars Brandon Segal (16-13-29) and Michel Ouellet (14-12-26), 2009 second-round draft pick Richard Panik (15-16-31), three-time 20-goal scorer Alexandre Picard (5-14-19) and team captain Mike Angelidis (14-13-27).

On the blue line, second-year pro Mark Barberio (11-42-53, +19) ranks first among AHL defensemen in assists, points and shots on goal. Following the Dec. 2 trade that brought both over from the Florida Panthers organization, Mike Kostka has 7-21-28 and is a plus-17 in 39 games with Norfolk and Evan Oberg has racked up 5-13-18 to go along with 10 separate NHL recalls to Tampa Bay. Radko Gudas owns a team-leading 161 penalty minutes to go with his 17 points and plus-16 rating, and J.P. Cote is a former Calder Cup champion, a member of Hamilton’s title team in 2007.

Norfolk’s magic number to clinch a postseason berth sits at 7 points heading into the new week. The Admirals host division rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday before heading to Charlotte for a two-game set with the Checkers on Friday and Sunday.

JUSTIN TIMEJustin Azevedo became the first player in Manchester Monarchs history to score four goals in a game, part of a five-point night in a 5-2 win at Portland on Mar. 10. Azevedo (19-17-36), in his fourth campaign with Manchester, also surpassed his previous career high of 18 goals in a season.

Manchester trailed 1-0 before Azevedo assisted on Stefan Legein’s tying goal at 7:28 of the first period. The 23-year-old center then scored twice before the end of the first period and twice more in the third, accounting for four consecutive goals in the game. It was the second four-goal performance in the AHL this season; Derek Whitmore scored four times for Rochester on Nov. 26.

EXTRA, EXTRA! … The Lake Erie Monsters played six consecutive overtime games from Feb. 25 to Mar. 10, part of a seven-game points streak that has the club in the thick of the crazy Western Conference playoff race. The Monsters won twice in the overtime period on goals from Cameron Gaunce (Mar. 4 vs. Charlotte) and Brad Malone (Mar. 10 at Oklahoma City), and split four trips to the shootout. The run of extra-time games ended on Mar. 11 when Lake Erie held on for a 3-2 regulation win in San Antonio.

Meanwhile, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s weekend road trip to Providence, Bridgeport and Springfield saw the Penguins win three consecutive shootouts. Penguins shooters converted on five of 14 attempts, while Scott Munroe (10/10) and Patrick Killeen (4/5) combined to stop 14 of 15 opponent tries. Wilkes-Barre forward Colin McDonald, 5-for-20 for his career in shootouts entering the weekend, scored on all three of his chances, while Cal O’Reilly, 2-for-8 in the AHL coming in, went 2-for-3.

HOME SWEET HOME … Texas forward Colton Sceviour has recorded at least one point in 16 consecutive home games for the Stars, an impressive run that began on Dec. 27.

Sceviour has notched 9-14-23 at the Cedar Park Center during that time, putting together the longest such streak since Darren Haydar found the scoresheet in 18 straight home games for Chicago in 2006-07. Overall this season for Texas, Sceviour shows 11-18-29 in 29 home games, and 5-10-15 in 30 road matches.

QUICK HITS … Entering the week, only four points separated third-place Charlotte (72 points) from 10th-place Houston (68) in the Western Conference, while five points separated seventh from 14th in the East… Charlotte and Chicago split a two-game set at the Time Warner Cable Arena over the weekend, keeping the Checkers one point ahead of the Wolves and Peoria atop the Midwest Division… Following back-to-back two-point games over the weekend, Springfield forward Alexandre Giroux is two shy of 700 points for his AHL career… Patrick O’Sullivan, who has recorded 3-5-8 in his first four games with Peoria, notched three assists before scoring the overtime goal as the Rivermen erased a 3-0 deficit and defeated Oklahoma City, 4-3, on Mar. 7… That same night, Grand Rapids trailed by four entering the third period but rallied to earn a standings point before falling in overtime at Texas, 5-4… Patrice Cormier’s four-point night in a 6-1 St. John’s win vs. Hershey on Mar. 9 included one goal in each period, the first hat trick recorded by a Bears opponent since Jan. 29, 2010 (Mark Letestu)… Connecticut owns the AHL’s best home record at 17-5-2-4, including just two regulation losses in its last 19 games at the XL Center (12-2-2-3)… Oklahoma City remains the only team in the AHL without a regulation loss when leading at an intermission (17-0-2-1 after the first, 25-0-4-0 after the second)… Rockford, 17-5-1-1 after Feb. 24 last season, is 7-0-0-1 since that date this season… Grand Rapids announced a five-year extension of its affiliation agreement with the Detroit Red Wings.