The Admirals have been sitting in the cellar all season. In any sport that involves multiple teams, some of them will rise to the top, some of them will sink to the bottom. It's a part of the game that someone has to be the loser. Before the New Year, the Admirals lost more than they won and didn't look like a team that stood much of a chance on any given night. Since their first game back on Jan 2, Norfolk has managed to win 10 out of 15 games played, putting together a four-game win streak from Jan 14 - Jan 22. Since I last left you, the Admirals have played six games and won three with none of them back-to-back. Talk about flipping a coin!
January 22 was the first of back-to-back games against the Elmira Jackals (Buffalo Sabres), a Friday and Saturday night series at Norfolk Scope. The Admirals went in to that Friday night's game on a three-game win streak that started with Elmira just a week before, a decisive 4-1 win. Norfolk's Jonathan Lessard would lead off the goal scoring at 13:53 of the first period and give the Ads a 1-0 lead that went through to the first intermission. Elmira came out quickly in the second period, beating goaltender Ty Rimmer just 1: 25 in to the second period and again at 10:44. The Jackals held the lead to finish out the second period and most of the way through the third before a late penalty gave the Admirals a chance on the power play. Center Michael Pelech tied the game at 18:18 of the third. Defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst notched the winner at 3:28 of the OT period to win 3-2.
Saturday night was the Admirals' annual "Pink In The Rink" night to commemorate the fight against breast cancer. The rematch would end with the same score, only this time the Jackals would emerge victorious. Elmira forward and leading scorer Cason Hohmann broke on to the score sheet first with a power play goal at 6:52 of the first. Norfolk's Alexis Loiseau tied it up just 50 seconds in to the second, but Elmira would come out of the period up 2-1 with another Hohmann goal at 14:14. Greg Chase tied the score at 2-2 early in the third but the Jackals struck the decisive blow at 17:35 and held on to win 3-2.
January 29 and January 30 the Admirals hosted the South Carolina Stingrays (Washington Capitals). Friday and Saturday's games could not have been more different.
Friday night the Admirals beat the Stingrays 8-2. You read that right, 8 to 2. Norfolk scored four goals in the first period and one in the second before South Carolina put up their first goal with just 36 second left in the second period. The Admirals threw in another three in the third period for good measure before the Stingrays bottomed out the score sheet with their second of the night. Greg Chase put away a hat trick and both Scott Allen and Michael Pelech each had two goals. Six different Admirals had a multi-point night and 10 of the 16 skaters in a Norfolk uniform had points.
Saturday night the Admirals wouldn't fare quite as well against the Stingrays. Norfolk played the game as if they had expelled all of their offense the night before, falling 6-1 to South Carolina. Nic Riopel, victorious the night before, was pulled in the second period after giving up four goals on twenty shots. Greg Chase scored the Admirals' lone goal half way through the first period but the game belonged to the Jackals. Another weekend, another split series.
Which brings us to the final two games of the report, another Friday and Saturday series, this time on the road. After a week of practice, the Admirals hit the road to face off against the Adirondack Thunder (Calgary Flames). Ty Rimmer drew back between the pipes, giving up the first two goals of the game less than two minutes in and just 35 seconds apart, a 2-0 lead they took in to the first intermission. From the drop of the puck at the start of the second period on, the game belonged to Norfolk which scored three unanswered goals (Verpaelst, Steven Whitney, and Allen) to come away with a 3-2 win. The Admirals managed to hold the Thunder to just 19 shots while launching 33 of their own.
Another Saturday night, another loss following a win. Once again, the Thunder came out scoring first, going up 2-0 in the first period before recently assigned left wing Braden Christoffer scored his first ECHL goal of the season to make it 2-1 at the end of the first. Unlike the night before, the Admirals couldn't muster any more goals and gave up three more to go down 5-1. Nic Riopel stopped 42 of 47, a stark contrast to the measly 19 the Thunder were able to muster the night before.
- Defenseman Charles-Olivier Roussel signed with a European team after putting up two goals and 18 assists in 41 games for the Admirals.
- Defenseman Ben Betker was returned on loan to the Admirals.
- Forward Alexandre Ranger was signed to a PTO with the St. John's IceCaps (Montreal Canadiens). Ranger scored 11 goals and 12 assists in 45 games with Norfolk.
- Defenseman Wes Cunningham was acquired via trade from the Missouri Mavericks (New York Islanders)
- Left Wing Braden Christoffer was assigned on loan to Norfolk from Bakersfield
- Forward Radoslav Illo was traded to the Idaho Steelheads (Dallas Stars) for future considerations
- Defenseman Corey Fienhage was acquired via trade with the Utah Grizzlies (Anaheim Ducks) for defenseman Mike Ratchuk.
---Through 48 games played:
Goals Leader: Scott Allen (12G)
Assists Leader: Michael Pelech, Steven Whitney (22A)
Points Leader: Steven Whitney (11G + 22A = 33Pts)
PIMS Leader: Samuel Noreau (139 PIMS, 11 Majors)
Nic Riopel 4-8-1-0 2.80GAA .911SP
Ty Rimmer 13-12-0-1 2.86GAA .915SP
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