Norfolk wrapped up its five game road trip this past week, playing four more on the road and ending up in Canada for the only time this season. The Admirals finally came out ahead away from Scope, taking three wins and six points from a possible ten. It didn't do much for them in the standings, but the 15 goals scored (3.75 Goals per game) last week were a full goal-per-game over their season average of 2.73 and brought their road win total from just one to four.
Wednesday, December 9 saw the Admirals and Elmira Jackals (Buffalo Sabres) face off at First Arena. The Jackals struck first, going up by two with the lone first period goal and another mid-way through the second before Norfolk forward Tommy Mele finally got the Admirals on the board. From there both teams would trade goals, and despite tallies from Alexandre Ranger and Nick MacNeil, the Admirals were unable to overcome the Jackals one goal lead. Philippe Cadorette would take the loss, stopping 29 of 33, while Jackals' goaltender Niklas Lundstrom stood on his head, fighting off 51 of 54 Norfolk shots, the most shots by an ECHL team thus far this season.
Good news and reinforcements arrived in Norfolk the next day, as it was announced rookie Alexis Loiseau was returned from the Bakersfield Condors to the Admirals. While he only played in six games before being recalled by the Condors, he was able to pick up two goals and two assists, the kind of offense the Admirals have missed of
Friday night the Admirals' bus rolled in to Adirondack to face off against the Thunder (Calgary Flames). Recently acquired goaltender Adam Courchaine got his first start as an Admiral, allowing just one goal on 29 shots. Norfolk on the other hand silenced the Thunder with six goals, five unanswered. All six goals were scored by different players--Jonathan Lessard, Michael Pelech, Alexis Loiseau, Scott Allen, Radoslav Illo, and Tommy Mele.
The bus rolled back in to Elmira on Saturday for an in-week rematch between the Admirals and Jackals. Elmira shooters were able to beat Norfolk net-minder Adam Courchaine three times on 22 attempts and found the back of the empty net for a fourth, while the Admirals, who couldn't seem to miss the night before, couldn't solve Niklas Lundstrom on any of the 46 shots they threw at him. It was the just the third time Norfolk had been shut out all season.
The Admirals finished their road trip on Sunday by crossing over the border to face off against the Brampton Beast (Montreal Canadiens) in what would be an offensive outburst by both teams for a total of 11 goals. Norfolk's Tommy Mele got things started just under six minutes in to the game for his ninth of the season, giving the Admirals the lead for six minutes before the Beast beat up on Norfolk net-minder Philippe Cadorette, who got the nod to start the game after Courchaine started back-to-backs. Brampton buried three straight goals on twelve first period shots to go up 3-1, and when teams took the ice to start the second Cadorette found himself holding down the bench and Courchaine found himself back in the blue paint. Mele scored his second of the game to start the period's scoring, and this time it was three straight by the Admirals--Mele, Allen, and a short-hander from Loiseau, to put Norfolk up 4-3 going in to the final frame. The Beast tied it up seven minutes in to the third period and the score would stay tied until the clock ran down to just 2:30 left in the game when Michael Pelech capitalized on an Admirals' power play. It wouldn't be enough as the Admirals gave up the game tying goal on a late penalty kill to send the game in to overtime.
Alexis Loiseau wasted little time in the extra frame, needing just 25 seconds to score the game-winner, his second of the game, finishing a beautiful two-on-one pass from Steven Whitney. Courchaine picked up the win, turning away 21 of 23. Norfolk was 2-for-8 on the power play, Brampton 3-for-6.
--Alexis Loiseau put up five points in just three games since his return on Thursday
--Tommy Mele continues to anchor the Admirals' goal-scoring efforts, responsible for 4 of the Admirals' 15 goals this past week.
--The Admirals are sixth in the ECHL in Short-handed Goals For with four.
--Norfolk's power play is finding itself on the score sheet on a regular basis, scoring 20 of the Admirals' 71 goals and boasting a 19.6 success rate, good for eighth in the league.
--Defenseman Charles-Olivier Roussel is second among defensemen in assists with 17 in 23 games.
--Through 26 games, the Admirals are 9-16-0-1 and have moved up from 28th to 25th in the league.
Notable skater stats (four games):
Tommy Mele (4G + 1A = 5Pts)
Alexis Loiseau (3G + 2A = 5Pts)
Steven Whitney (5A)
Michael Pelech (2G + 2A = 4Pts)
Nick MacNeil (1G + 3A = 4Pts)
Scott Allen (2G + 1A = 3Pts)
Charles-Olivier Roussel (3A)
Radoslav Illo (1G + 1A = 2Pts)
Jonathan Lessard (1G + 1A = 2Pts)
Alexandre Ranger (1G + 1A = 2Pts)
Ben Betker (2A)
Jordan Hill (2A)
Samuel Noreau (1A)
Nick Pageau (1A)
Through 26 games:
Goals Leader: Tommy Mele (10)
Assists Leader: Charles-Olivier Roussel (17A)
Points Leader: Charles-Olivier Roussel (2G + 17A = 19Pts)
PIMs Leader: Samuel Noreau (78 PIMs, 8 Majors)
Adam Courchaine 2-1-0-0 2.30GAA 0.919SP
Philippe Cadorette 0-1-0-0 6.58GAA 0.820SP
The Admirals return home to Scope Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights for a quick three games before Christmas followed by a four game road trip to end the year.
Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead