NORFOLK, Va. – Justin Keller netted his first two goals of the season, but his Norfolk Admirals (3-5-0-0) fell to the Portland Pirates (3-6-0-0) 6-5 on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.
The Admirals jumped out to a 1-0 lead before the game was two minutes old. Juraj Simek broke in down the left wing and sent a sharp-angle shot from the left corner just before the goal line. The shot trickled through the pads of Pirates goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureaux for Simek’s first goal of the season at 1:19.
Former Admirals leading scorer Kyle Wanvig knotted the score at one goal apiece just over three minutes later. After an Admirals shot on Lamoureaux rebounded to the high slot, Philip Gogulla sent an outlet pass through the neutral zone to Wanvig, who had a half-step advantage on a Norfolk defender. Wanvig’s first shot hit the leg pads of Norfolk netminder Dustin Tokarski. However, Wanvig found his own rebound and chipped it over Tokarski at 4:27.
The Admirals then took a two-goal lead on a pair of markers just 46 seconds apart late in the opening frame. The first tally came at 15:18 on the power play. Simek found the rebound of a Paul Szczechura left circle shot behind the net. Simek skated around the net and sent a pass to the right edge of the low slot. Matt Lashoff one-timed the offering into the net for his first goal as an Admiral.
Justin Keller doubled Norfolk’s lead at 16:04. Lamoureaux corralled a dump-in behind his own goal and attempted to send the puck to his defense with a wrap around the glass. However, Keller blocked the puck against the end boards, collected it and sent a backhand wraparound shot into the net for his first goal of the season.
The Pirates seized control of the second period, firing ten shots on Tokarski as opposed to Norfolk’s five on Lamoureaux. Mike Kostka started the onslaught for the visitors by one-timing a Tyler Ennis offering from the right faceoff dot past Tokarski at 2:08 for a power play goal. Jeff Cowan tied the game at 3-3 when he sent a backhand shot over a sprawling Admirals defenseman and into the net at 7:30. Mark Mancari gave Portland the lead at 14:38 when he one-timed a Gogulla offering past Tokarski from the slot.
The Admirals briefly leveled the contest at four goals apiece just 44 seconds into the final frame. After stealing the puck from Portland in the neutral zone, Ryan Craig exchanged passes behind the net with linemate Adam Hall. Craig then attempted a wraparound shot near Lamoureaux’s left leg that cut across the crease and off the leg of Keller before bounding into the net for Keller’s second goal of the contest.
However, the Pirates reclaimed the lead under four minutes later. Kyle Rank found the puck off a turnover and sent a shot from the right circle that found its mark at 4:20.
The Portland lead doubled just over two minutes later. Wanvig attempted a feed from the left corner that deflected off a Norfolk defenseman to Tyler Ennis in the slot. Ennis sent a quick shot that beat Tokarski at 6:25 for a 6-4 lead.
The Admirals drew to within one goal of tying the game with 5:04 left. Mike Lundin sent a backhand pass from the right circle that was deflected in the low slot by Craig for his sixth-goal of the season.
Norfolk out-shot Portland 13-4 in the final frame and pulled Tokarski late in favor of the extra attacker in the period. However, they were unable to find the game-tying goal.
Dustin Tokarski (23 shots, 17 saves) was saddled with the loss. Jean-Philippe Lamoureaux (26 shots, 21 saves) earned his first American Hockey League victory.
Norfolk was 1-3 on the power play. Portland was 1-2.
Next up on the Admirals’ docket is a meeting with the Syracuse Crunch next Friday at Scope. The puck drops against the Admirals’ newest East Division rival at 7:15 p.m. Fans should head to Scope to catch this game before the Admirals hit the road for 14 of their next 18 games.
1. Tyler Ennis – POR
2. Justin Keller – NOR
3. Mark Mancari – POR
Notes … The Admirals surrendered a power play goal to the opposition for the first time in six games tonight after killing 18 consecutive opponent power plays … The Admirals remained a disciplined club, allowing Portland only two power play opportunities on the evening. The Admirals have allowed only ten opponent power play opportunities over the past five games. They gave up 15 power play opportunities over their first three games of the season … With a goal and an assist, Ryan Craig has points in six straight games (6G, 2A) and goals in four straight games (5G) ... Craig’s goal-scoring streak is tied for the longest in the American Hockey League this season while his point streak is tied for the second-longest in the AHL this season … Craig and Brandon Bochenski are tied for the AHL lead in goals this season with six apiece … Paul Szczechura has points in four games in a row (2G, 3A) … Juraj Simek has points and assists in three straight games (1G, 4A) … Bochenski has points in three consecutive contests (3G, 2A) … Scratches: C Mitch Fadden, RW Martins Karsums, G Riku Helenius ... Attendance: 3,342.