The Norfolk Admirals completed their longest road trip of the season this week without picking up a win or a point. In fact, the Admirals return home with just one win out of the eight straight games away from Norfolk Scope and two of a possible 16 points, all lost against division opponents.
Norfolk's first contest of the week was against the Adirondack Thunder (Calgary Flames) on Wednesday night. The Thunder came out with a bang (pardon the pun) scoring two quick goals at 3:36 and 6:03 of the first period. Forward Tommy Mele scored his third of the season to pull Norfolk to within one going in to the intermission and Jonathan Lessard would tie the game 6:50 in to the second period. The Thunder put the game away just ten seconds later after a bad turn-over at the Admirals' blue line found the net behind goaltender Ty Rimmer, his third goal allowed on 23 shots. Rimmer would be replaced by recently signed back-up goaltender Tyler Beskorowany. The 3-2 score would stand for the rest of the game.
The Admirals' next three games, yet another "3-in-3," were all against the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. While this was the first time the players had seen each other this season, the Admirals and Monarchs were both victims of the AHL's "realignment" that forced both franchises to find homes in the ECHL.
Friday night was the closest of the three games. Tyler Beskorowany got his first start for the Admirals and managed to keep the Monarchs off the scoreboard until 3:05 in to the third period when Manchester capitalized on a five-on-three power-play. Thirty seconds later the Monarchs struck again on the five-on-four advantage. Tommy Mele spoiled Manchester goaltender Michael Houser's shut-out at the half-way mark of the third period but the Monarchs were able to hold on for the win. Beskorowany stopped 44 of 46, Houser 42 of 43.
Saturday night's 5-1 loss was the second time this season the Admirals had lost by four or more goals, the last back on Oct 21. Once again, Mele scored Norfolk's lone goal for his fifth of the season. Beskorowany turned away 30 of 35, Manchester goaltender Colin Stevens 21 of 22.
Sunday's afternoon game went much like the previous two nights with Norfolk spotting the Monarchs two goals in the first period. Admirals' recently signed forward Quinn Smith scored his first of the season with just under two minutes left in the second period to pull make it a 2-1 and Steven Whitney would capitalize on an Admirals' power play to tie it up at 3:19 of the third. The Monarchs beat Ty Rimmer with the go-ahead goal with 9:30 remaining in the game and finished off the game with an empty-net goal. Rimmer stopped 37 of 40, Michael Houser 27 of 29. The game had some "interesting" penalties called, the first was in the second period, a bench minor for "Abusive language" against Norfolk. Manchester's empty net goal apparently was the last straw for the Admirals as they racked up 17 minutes of penalties with just :14 seconds remaining in the game--Michael Pelech got five for fighting and Steven Whitney got two for cross-checking and a ten minute misconduct for "Continuing Altercation."
--The Admirals went four straight games without scoring first, something they had been fairly proficient at just a few weeks ago.
--Norfolk is now 5-12 through 17 games played, good enough for last place in the Eastern Conference and 27th of 28 teams in the ECHL despite playing four more games than the last place team.
--Tommy Mele had goals in three straight this week.
--The Admirals were outscored 22-14 on the road trip.
--Not sure where all that energy came from at the end of Sunday's game, but I can see the coaching staff looking at it one of two ways. The first, asking the team why they didn't play with that kind of emotion or effort all week, or second, happy to see some of the players finally getting emotional, getting angry. It's no fun winning just two out of the last ten games.
Notable skater stats for the week:
Tommy Mele (3G, 1A)
Steven Whitney (1G, 2A)
Michael Pelech (2A)
Jonathan Lessard (1G)
Quinn Smith (1G)
Jordan Hill (1A)
Alexandre Ranger (1A)
Charles-Olivier Roussel (1A)
Gabriel Verpaelst (1A)
Through 17 games:
Goal Leader: Tommy Mele / Alexandre Ranger (5G)
Assist Leader: Charles-Olivier Roussel (8A)
Points Leader: Charles-Olivier Roussel (2G + 8A = 10 pts)
PIMs Leader: Samuel Noreau (49 PIMs)
Ty Rimmer: 4-9-0-0 3.10GAA .918SP
Nic Riopel: 1-1-0-0 1.71GAA .951SP (with Norfolk)
Tyler Beskorowany: 0-2 2.78GAA .927SP
The Admirals return home this week to begin a four game home-stand starting Wednesday against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (New York Rangers) and hosting the Manchester Monarchs Friday and Saturday.
Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead