NORFOLK – Devante Smith-Pelly netted his team-leading 21st goal of the season, but the Norfolk Admirals (31-19-1-7) were defeated by the Hershey Bears (30-21-3-4), 3-2, on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The same teams square off again tomorrow night at Scope at 7:15 p.m.
Max Friberg also scored for Norfolk, while goaltender John Gibson (17-13-4) stopped 21 of 24 shots in the setback.
Gibson got into an early rhythm and made seven saves during a scoreless first period. Opposite of him stood Hershey netminder David Leggio, who turned away nine shots in the opening frame.
The Admirals took a 1-0 lead 2:25 into the second period. After taking a neutral zone pass from Andre Petersson, Smith-Pelly worked around multiple Hershey defenders before sending a wrist shot from the low slot over the left shoulder of Bears goaltender David Leggio. The assist was the first point as an Admiral for Petersson, who was acquired by the Admirals' NHL parent club, the Anaheim Ducks, in a trade on Wednesday.
Hershey answered a minute and 49 seconds later on a Michael Latta goal. Latta redirected a feed from Dane Byers at the doorstep and got past Gibson’s left leg at 4:14.
The Bears continued to press and broke through a second time just under five minutes later. While on the power play, Nate Schmidt moved a puck across the top of the Norfolk zone for a waiting Casey Wellman in the left faceoff circle. Wellman teed up a one-timer that beat Gibson low to the glove side at 8:46 of the second period.
The Bears held the one-goal lead well into the third until a Dane Byers shot slipped through Gibson’s legs at the end of an odd-man rush. Byers’ eleventh goal of the campaign put Hershey ahead, 3-1, at 13:15 of the final period.
With Gibson off the ice in favor of a sixth Admirals attacker, Max Friberg closed Norfolk's gap to one goal with six seconds left. But Friberg's 12th goal of the season was too little, too late for the Admirals. Hershey took the first of two games this weekend, 3-2, and is now only three points behind Norfolk in the standings.
Leggio (16-15-3) stopped 31 of 33 shots to earn the win.
Norfolk was 0-for-2 on the power play. Hershey was 1-for-3.
Tomorrow night is Guns and Hoses Night to Benefit CHKD. Fans with a ticket to tomorrow's game can watch area police and fire department hockey teams square off at 4:30 p.m. then catch the rematch between the Admirals and Bears at 7:15 p.m.
Don’t miss a minute of Admirals action by purchasing your season tickets today. 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. Casey Wellman - HER
2. David Leggio - HER
3. Devante Smith-Pelly - NOR