Norsemen Sink Schooners Againby Matt MacInnis | March 3, 2006, 11:52 AM ET
For the second time in a row, the Vancouver Island Norsemen have defeated the Nova Scotia Schooners, this time by a score of 3-2. Recent call-up Ryan Kesler scored his first goal of the season to start the scoring at the 6:47 mark of the opening period after tipping a Stephane Veilleux shot passed JS Gigeure. The Schooners responded later in the period but the tie game was short-lived thanks to an accurate write-shot from Alexander Korolyuk, his 22nd of the season. The game remained 2-1 for the Norsemen well into the second period until Chris Neil scored his tenth goal of the season, and the eventual game winner. Neil took a cross-ice pass from leading Norsemen scorer Tomas Surovy and tapped the puck into the yawning cage. Chris Mason got the start in place of the fatigued Vesa Toskala and stopped 26 of 28 shots en route to his fifth win of the season. Adam Foote, also suffering from a variety of minor injuries, dressed for the game but was only used in a penalty killing role and saw a paltry three minutes of ice time. Reciprocally, Scott Hannan, who has struggled defensively this season, played a whopping 28 minutes and accumulated an assist. Kesler, playing his third game of the season, was very impressive and continues to make a pitch to stay in the big show. Schooners thug Mario Lemieux received a huge five game suspension for his brutal cross-check on Brooks Orpik midway through the third period. Orpik is set to miss three weeks, a big blow to the team’s defensive unit. “We’re really going to miss Brooks while he’s recovering,” said GM MacInnis. “It’s too bad Mario felt the need to do something like that to a great up-and-coming kid. It just goes to show you that just because these guys have been around for a long time doesn’t mean they can control their tempers. It was a cheap shot and a completely unnecessary one at that. Brooks did nothing to provoke this kind of brutal attack.” The Norsemen have March 3 off before playing the Ottawa Slammers on the 4th. The team is hopeful that both Foote and currently injured Anton Babchuk will be available to the team for the big game. The Slammers sit in ninth place and are hot on the trail of a playoff position. If neither are ready and fit for the match, MacInnis has hinted that German Chrisian Ehrhoff will be recalled from the North Island Mounties. Ehrhoff played in the team’s first 22 games of the season before being demoted after the acquisition of Foote and later Chris Chelios. With the playoff deadline set for April 1, the Norsemen have one more month to determine if they will make additional moves to attempt a playoff push. As of deadline, the Norsemen sit in seventh place and have a ten point lead on the ninth place Slammers and are just three points out of sixth.