In my last Log Entry I referred to the play of the Norfolk Admirals as being as consistent as the flip of a coin, odds being 50/50 for a win. Norfolk's return home for a nine-game home stand stuck with that theme, with five games down and five points to show for them.
Friday, Feb 12 the Reading Royals (Philadelphia Flyers) rode in to town to face off for the fourth meeting this season between the two divisional rivals. Norfolk had yet to beat the Royals in three previous match-ups and were eager not only to break that losing streak but to also gain crucial standings points. Both teams made it through most of the first period without a goal until Norfolk centerman Alexis Loiseau broke through with his tenth goal of the season just past the 15 minute mark. Dean Ouellet threw another goal in the back of the net seven minutes in to the second period, but the two goals would be all that the Admirals could muster that night. Readings' first of four unanswered goals came just three minutes later and Norfolk would fall 4-2 and Reading would skate away with their fourth win over the Admirals this season.
Saturday night at Scope featured yet another fourth-time match-up, this time against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (New York Rangers). Again, the Admirals started off the scoring with two power play goals in the first period from Steven Whitney and Braden Christoffer. Greenville was able to pull within one goal with under a minute left in the first period and the teams would retire the first period with Norfolk up 2-1. The Swamp Rabbits kept up their pace, tying the game four minutes in to the second period. Whitney would strike again just over a minute later to give the Admirals a 3-2 lead, a lead they would hold through the remainder of the second period but would give up at 6:19 of the third. Regulation time ended with the teams tied 3-3 but the Swamp Rabbits wasted little time to secure the win, scoring on their second shot of overtime to skate off with two points. Goaltender Ty Rimmer was handed his first overtime loss of the season despite turning away 34 of 38 Greenville shots.
Fast forward a few days to Wednesday when the Admirals hosted the first of three straight against the first place Florida Everblades (Carolina Hurricanes) who had lost just 15 games in their season going in to Wednesday. Admirals' forward Scott Allen got the scoring started early in the first at the 4:16 mark followed by an unassisted goal from forward Greg Chase at 9:25. Florida struck at 17:32 of the first to pull within one, and then again at 16:30 of the second to tie it up at 2-2. Braden Christoffer scored the game winner with under a minute left in the second period, and Steven Whitney would put away the Everblades for good with a power play goal just past the halfway mark of the third for a 4-2 Admirals' win.
Norfolk looked to keep the momentum going Friday, finding the back of the net early on a Greg Chase goal less than two minutes in to the first period. It would be all the offense the Admirals could muster on the night and Florida would go on to score three straight to win 3-1. Goaltender Nic Riopel got the nod after his win Wednesday and impressively turned aside 37 of 39.
Saturday night the opposing team finally started off the scoring, beating Ty Rimmer three minutes in to the first period on an early power play. Defenseman Ben Betker returned the favor a few minutes later, launching a shot from the point on an Admirals' power play for his second goal of the season. The Everblades beat Rimmer two more times in the first, prompting Head Coach Eric Veilleux to pull Rimmer in favor of Riopel with five minutes left in the first period. Florida pulled ahead by three, beating Riopel at 3:12 of the second, but it would the last goal the Everblades would score. Scott Allen scored at the 8:00 mark on the power play and :18 seconds later Jonathan Lessard put home his own rebound to pull the Admirals to within a goal. Norfolk threw 18 shots on goal in the second and the teams went to their locker rooms to end the second with Florida up 4-3. Though it took the Admirals 15 minutes they were able to tie the game on Lessard's second of the game, a puck he called for while streaking down the side boards and to the slot. Both teams were kept scoreless through the overtime.
Admirals' forward Greg Chase found himself on several breakaways in the game but each time was turned away by Everblades' netminder Rasmus Tirronen, much to the enjoyment of Everblades' players. It was only fitting that he found himself in the shootout with the game on his stick. Florida went up 1-0 going in to the third round, meaning Tirronen only had to stop Chase and the Everblades would return to Florida with four of six possible points from the series. Chase tickled the twine to keep the Admirals alive and made it a point to skate towards the Florida bench, blowing a kiss before being congratulated by his teammates. Not to be outdone, Jonathan Lessard, who scored the game-tying goal near the end of the third period, won the game in the fifth round after Nic Riopel turned aside the last Florida shooter.
Norfolk's home-stand continues this weekend when the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings) visit Scope on Friday and Saturday night.
- ForwardMichael Pelech was returned on loan from Bakersfield
- Defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst signed a Professional Tryout (PTO) contract with the AHL's Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames)
---Through 53 games played:
Goals Leader: Scott Allen, Steven Whitney (14G)
Assists Leader: Steven Whitney (26A)
Points Leader: Steven Whitney (14G + 26A = 40Pts)
PIMS Leader: Samuel Noreau (139 PIMS, 11 Majors)
Nic Riopel 6-9-1-0 2.57GAA 0.918SP
Ty Rimmer 13-13-1-1 3.03GAA 0.910SP
Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead