Last updated: January 31. 2014 12:32AM - 1485 Views
By - tvenesky@timesleader.com

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Norfolk Admirals (22-13-1-7, 52 points, 3rd place in the East Division) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (26-14-1-3, 56 points, 2nd place in the East Division)

7:05 p.m. today at the Mohegan Sun Arena

Listen live on The Sports Hub, 102.3 FM

Players to watch:

Norfolk - G John Gibson has been nearly perfect in three starts against the Penguins. His numbers say it all: 3-0-0, 1.01, .960.

Penguins - The Penguins have only managed four goals against the Admirals this season, but the key player tonight may be Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. His ability to protect his teammates and take care of Norfolk’s tough guys could be very valuable tonight.

A goalie fight at center ice during a promotional timeout?

A total of nine fights in four games?

Chalk it up to a typical East Division rivalry, said Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins netminder Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers about his team’s rivalry against the Norfolk Admirals.

A two-game set in Norfolk two weekends ago produced the goalie fight and five fighting majors. The highlight occurred in the first game when Deslauriers bumped Norfolk goaltender John Gibson as they passed each other during a timeout at center ice, sparking a fight and plenty of bad blood.

“Hockey’s an emotional game and it happened,” Deslauriers said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s a division team and you want to play hard against them.”

Head coach John Hynes wasn’t ready to say if Deslauriers or Eric Hartzell would get the start tonight against the Admirals, but he did offer his take on the goalie fight.

“You don’t like to see it because you don’t want to have a goaltender get hurt in a situation like that where it’s not really part of their job,” Hynes said.

But … “In that situation there was a little bit of spark for our team and it wasn’t a situation where it was totally out of line. (Deslauriers) was an emotional guy at that point and we needed something like that.”

While the nine fighting majors in the Norfolk series this season seems to indicate a bitter rivalry, the abundance of fisticuffs may have actually worked to keep the games clean.

Hynes said all four games against Norfolk have been physical, but there hasn’t been a lot of dirty play form either side.

“There hasn’t been a lot of guys running each other or dirty stuff. Just solid, competitive games,” Hynes said. “The fights that occurred did so at the right times in hockey situations.”


- Rookie Denver Manderson, who scored his first AHL goal on Wednesday after 22 games. Manderson said he didn’t panic about not scoring for so long, but admitted it was in the back of his mind. “I’ve had lots of chances but couldn’t finish, but I thought I’d get one soon,” he said. “All of a sudden 20 games go by and you’re wanting some of those chances back.”

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