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Norfolk ties mark, clinches playoff spot

It was a memorable night for the Norfolk Admirals on Friday.

About half an hour after tying an American Hockey League record with their 17th consecutive win — a 7-2 drubbing of the host Charlotte Checkers — the Admirals became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs when Portland lost to Springfield.

Only one other team in the 76-year history of the AHL has won 17 straight games during a season: the 2004-05 Philadelphia Phantoms. Norfolk will try to break the mark and stand alone when they return to action in Charlotte on Sunday afternoon.

Thirteen different Admirals skaters registered a point on Friday, led by rookies Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat with a goal and an assist each. Johnson, the reigning Reebok/AHL Player of the Week, has six consecutive multi-point games and has totaled 20 points (8-12-20) during his current nine-game scoring streak.

Cory Conacher, who should garner consideration for both rookie of the year and MVP honors in the league, moved into a tie for the league lead with his 32nd goal of the season.

Jaroslav Janus made 30 saves for his ninth consecutive win, setting a franchise record for a Norfolk goaltender.

Under second-year head coach Jon Cooper, the Admirals, top affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, sit atop the overall AHL standings with a record of 44-18-1-2 (91 points) and are closing in on their first division title since 2003.