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Admirals' Log: New Year, New Team

Since the beginning of 2016, the Norfolk Admirals have lost just two of nine games.

Admirals goaltender Nic Riopel makes a pad save on Cincinnati's Brandon Gracel  Jan 9, 2016 Norfolk Scope
Admirals goaltender Nic Riopel makes a pad save on Cincinnati's Brandon Gracel Jan 9, 2016 Norfolk Scope
Courtesy John Wright/Norfolk Admirals

Let me start of by apologizing to all of the "loyal" readers out there who've been looking for weekly recaps.  I was selfish and took a few weeks off.  I thought about beginning with an elaborate story describing how I'd been kidnapped but figured I wouldn't waste your time.  The story of the past two weeks is much better anyway and I don't have to put much thought in to it.

Norfolk played it's last game of 2015 on Dec 30, a 4-3 overtime loss against the Atlanta Gladiators (Boston Bruins) that brought their record to 10-21-1-1 and dead last in the Eastern Conference.  The first 33 games of the season were, let's face it, horrible.  The players and coaches continued to talk of staying the course, of playing their game, but up to that point it was just that, talk.

Flip the calendar page to 2016 and it's almost as if a brand new team was born.

The Admirals' first game of the season was Jan 2 against the Gladiators, a 3-2 win capped by Captain Jordan Hill.  Norfolk hit the road that night for a road game on the Jan 3 against the Wheeling Nailers (Pittsburgh Penguins), a dominating 5-3 win and just the third time this season the Admirals were able to string together back-to-back wins.  Unfortunately, the "streak" would end back on home ice against the Orlando Solar Bears (Toronto Maple Leafs) 4-2 on Jan 6.

Jan 8th and 9th brought the Cincinnati Cyclones (Nashville Predators) to Norfolk Scope for a Friday and Saturday match-up.  Friday night the Admirals won 3-1 in regulation, Saturday 3-2 in overtime.  Goaltender Nic Riopel was between the pipes for the weekend making 59 saves between both games.  Scott Allen notched the game winner Friday, Dean Ouellet scored twice in regulation and Gabriel Verpaelst put home his own rebound at 3:29 of OT.

Norfolk hit the road this past week for a four game road trip.  First stop was Tuesday in Adirondack to face off against the Thunder (Calgary Flames).  The Admirals fought hard but couldn't overcome a lone first period Flames' goal despite throwing 31 shots on goal.  Riopel was once again brilliant, allowing just one goal on 30 shots but unfortunately the effort was in vain.

Going back to the new year, new team theme, the Admirals did something with the next three road games that they were able to do just once before in the previous 39 games--win three in a row.  The last time Norfolk was able so string together three wins was Oct 30-Nov 7, all at home.  This week all three wins were on the road between two different cities.

Thursday night the Admirals took the ice against the Elmira Jackals (Buffalo Sabres).  Greg Chase, recently returned to Norfolk from Bakersfield, scored twice, and Scott Allen scored his second game winner of the season in a convincing 4-1 victory.   Saturday and Sunday the Admirals rolled in to  Manchester NH to face the Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings).  Saturday's game saw Norfolk give up a two goal lead with just 26 seconds left in the third but stole the victory on an Alexis Loiseau goal in overtime.  Sunday took a shoot-out, but the Admirals once again prevailed, 5-4.

Norfolk has played more games (42) than any other team in the ECHL, and while they still have quite a bit of ground to make up, they are no longer last in the Conference and are just six points out of a playoff spot.  In just two weeks, the Admirals have almost doubled their wins and now sit at 17-23-1-1 (36 points).  Ty Rimmer went 5-1 during this recent stretch,  Nic Riopel 2-1.

The Admirals return home this weekend for a Friday and Saturday series against visiting Elmira.

---Notable Transactions:

  • Jan 2  Ty Rimmer returned on loan from Bakersfield
  • Jan 5  Dean Ouellet traded from Fort Wayne Comets (Colorado Avalanche)
  • Jan 11  Greg Chase returned on loan from Bakersfield
  • Jan 13  Ben Betker recalled to Bakersfield
  • Jan 16  Admirals trade F Tommy Mele (10G, 10A) and D Andrew Blazek to Cincinatti for D Mike Ratchuk (1G, 5A)

---Through 42 games played:

Goals Leader:  Alexandre Ranger (11G)

Assists Leader:  Steven Whitney (20A)

Points Leader:  Steven Whitney (10G + 20A = 30Pts)

PIMS Leader:  Samuel Noreau (115 PIMS, 9 Majors)

Nic Riopel     3-4-1-0     2.13GAA     .931SP

Ty Rimmer   11-11-0-1  2.94GAA     .916SP

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