NORFOLK, Va. – Mike Vernace, Mike Angelidis and Chris Durno scored goals 1:08 apart in the third period to break a 2-2 tie as the Norfolk Admirals (19-9-6-2) defeated the Connecticut Whale (19-14-2-5), 5-2, on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The Admirals and Whale will face off once again tomorrow night at Scope with a 7:15 p.m. puck drop in Special Olympics Night.
Johan Harju and James Wright also scored for the Admirals while Cedrick Desjardins stopped 24 of 26 shots in his return to the Admirals after making his NHL debut.
The Admirals struck first only 17 seconds into the contest. Marc-Antoine Pouliot sent a pass from the neutral zone toward Harju as he was crossing the blueline in the high slot. Harju chipped the puck past a defender and broke in alone on Whale goaltender Chad Johnson, sending a shot between the blocker and right leg of Johnson for his team-leading fifteenth goal of the season.
Connecticut leveled the score at 1-1 midway through the first period. Brodie Dupont was the beneficiary of a turnover in the slot of the Norfolk zone. He attempted a shot that bounced off Desjardins into the slot to Kelsey Tessier between the hashmarks. Tessier then attempted a shot that bounced off traffic in front, but Dupont found the rebound and sent a backhand shot past the right leg of Desjardins at 8:45.
Norfolk re-claimed the lead half-way through the second stanza on Wright’s eleventh goal of the season. Matt Fornataro centered the puck from behind the net to Wright in the left circle. As Wright fired a shot, Paul Szczechura set a screen in front of Johnson and the puck sailed under the lifted left skate of Szczechura and under the crossbar at 10:06 for a 2-1 Admirals lead.
However, Connecticut tied the game at 2-2 just under five minutes later. Jason Williams attempted a shot from the left circle that was blocked by an Admirals defender. However, the puck ricocheted back onto the stick of Williams, and he snuck a shot between the post and Desjardins’ right leg at 15:00.
Norfolk began its scoring frenzy at 11:22 with Vernace's sixth goal of the season. Blair Jones won a faceoff in the left circle back to the high slot. Vernace one-timed the puck through a screen and past a screened Johnson for a 3-2 Admirals lead.
Just 23 seconds later, Jones won the race for a puck in the right corner and backhanded a pass into the low slot. Angelidis connected on a quick shot at the top of the crease and sent the puck past the right leg of Johnson at 11:45. Angelidis' twelfth goal of the season put the Admirals ahead 4-2.
Durno closed out scoring at 12:30 with his eleventh goal of the season 45 seconds later. Pouliot sent a cross-ice pass from the left circle to Durno at the right dot, and Durno sent a one-timer into the net for a 5-2 Norfolk lead.
Cedrick Desjardins (26 shots, 24 saves) earned the win. Chad Johnson (40 shots, 35 saves) earned the win.
Norfolk was 0-1 on the power play. Connecticut was also 0-1.
The Admirals and Whale will face off once again tomorrow night at Scope with a 7:15 p.m. puck drop. The game will mark Special Olympics Night, presented by SunTrust.
Individual tickets for all regular season games start at just $12. Tickets are available now at the Scope Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at ticketmaster.com.
Don’t miss a minute of the action by purchasing your 2010-11 season tickets today. Season tickets start at just $350 while 10-Packs are available for as little as $110. Stop by the Admirals’ Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime!
1. Blair Jones – NOR
2. Chris Durno – NOR
3. Mike Vernace – NOR
NOTES … Norfolk snapped a five-game winless streak ... The Admirals handed Connecticut just their third regulation loss in 18 games since changing their name from the Hartford Wolf Pack to the Connecticut Whale (13-3-0-2) … Marc-Andre Bergeron made his Norfolk Admirals debut and was +1 with three shots on goal … Scratches: Levi Nelson, Tim Marks, Mathieu Roy, Mitch Fritz, Troy Milam.