Norfolk draws first blood

NORFOLK, Va. ( … The Norfolk Admirals opened the 2012 Calder Cup Finals by celebrating some of their recent accomplishments.

They closed out the night one step closer to a title.

Rookie stars Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson each had a goal and an assist as Norfolk blitzed the Toronto Marlies early and held on late, taking a 3-1 decision in a feisty opener to the American Hockey League’s 76th championship series.

In a pre-game ceremony, the Admirals raised banners to the Scope rafters commemorating their East Division, overall regular season and Eastern Conference playoff titles, as well as a fourth recognizing their record 28-game winning streak.

Once the puck dropped, Norfolk was quick to show the dominance they’ve displayed while winning 40 of their last 43 games.

Conacher, the AHL’s most valuable player and rookie of the year in 2011-12, opened the scoring with the teams skating four-on-four at 12:21 of the first period, snapping a shot past Ben Scrivens. It was the second postseason goal for Conacher, who had led the league with 39 goals during the regular season.

Shots were 16-9 after one period and 27-12 by the midway point of the second period when Johnson doubled the lead to 2-0, ripping a bullet by Scrivens at 10:03. It was just the fourth power-play goal allowed by the Marlies all postseason.

Toronto finally got on the board at 3:57 of the third period, with former Admiral Carter Ashton, in his first action since Game 2 of the first round vs. Rochester, beating Dustin Tokarski to make it 2-1. That goal ended Tokarski’s personal shutout streak at 203 minutes and 26 seconds, just 4:01 shy of the all-time Calder Cup playoff record set by the Springfield Indians’ Marcel Paille in 1962.

The Marlies continued to pressure for the equalizer, but could not convert on three third-period power plays before Brandon Segal secured the win with an empty-net shorthanded tally with 18.3 seconds remaining.

Scrivens (11-3, 1.64, .945) finished with 39 saves on the night as the Marlies were outshot by a 42-24 margin. Tokarski (9-2, 1.60, .940) stopped 23 shots to help Norfolk to its seventh consecutive victory.

The game, which featured a combined 70 minutes in penalties, saw Toronto finish 0-for-10 on the power play and Norfolk go 1-for-5.

NOTES: Attendance at Scope was 7,229… In Calder Cup Finals history, the Game 1 winner has won the series 56 of 75 times.

2012 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E1-Norfolk Admirals vs. W2-Toronto Marlies
Game 1 Fri., June 1 NORFOLK 3, Toronto 1 
Game 2 Sat., June 2 Toronto at Norfolk, 7:15 
Game 3 Thurs., June 7 Norfolk at Toronto, 7:00
Game 4 Sat., June 9 Norfolk at Toronto, 3:00 
*Game 5 Sun., June 10 Norfolk at Toronto, 3:00 
*Game 6 Wed., June 13 Toronto at Norfolk, 7:15 
*Game 7 Fri., June 15 Toronto at Norfolk, 7:30
  *if necessary… All times Eastern