Admirals Pick Up Four Points as Another Three-in-Three Looms
NORFOLK, Va. – The Admirals won two of three away contests this weekend, earning four points that keeps them just a point behind Hershey for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Norfolk headed north to Adirondack beginning the first of two "three-in-threes" in their current six-game road trip. Admirals goaltender John Gibson enjoyed one of his better performances of the season at Adirondack on Friday night. The rookie from Pittsburgh made 32 saves before shutting down the Phantoms in the shootout with five straight saves for a 2-1 win. The Admirals only needed Andre Petersson's conversion on Norfolk's first attempt to snatch a big two points from Adirondack.
Binghamton, New York was the next stop for the teams' seventh meeting of the season and one in which Norfolk looked to snap their five-game losing streak to the Senators. A hat trick from Emerson Etem and timely goals by Antoine Laganiere, Steve Eminger and Dave Steckel overwhelmed the Senators to the tune of a 6-3 defeat. After dropping four in a row, the Admirals responded with two consecutive victories aiming for a third against a desperate Hartford club.
The Wolf Pack tore out of the gates with a goal just 56 seconds into the first period. Max Friberg's deflection goal on the power play tied it at 1-1 heading into the second period when Jesper Fast heated up. A power play marker for Fast and a backhand goal for his second of the game exactly a minute and a half later dug the Admirals into a 3-1 hole entering the third. Etem scored his fourth of the weekend off a goal-front rebound early in the final frame, but Norfolk never found the equalizer and squandered two points to Hartford, 3-2, keeping the Wolf Pack's waning playoff hopes alive.
Admirals' Spotlight Admirals' goaltender John Gibson made his National Hockey League debut on Monday, April 7, and began his NHL career in unforgettable fashion. Gibson's first NHL start in net was an 18-save shutout of Vancouver that included a few highlight saves during Anaheim's 3-0 victory in British Columbia. The Pittsburgh native credited the defense in front of him for his success as they knocked down 22 shots before they could ever reach the first-timer between the pipes.
"The team played really well in front of me and made my job easier. When there were loose pucks, they threw them away. That helped a lot. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to them."
Gibson is the youngest goalie to record a shutout in his NHL debut since Daren Puppa in 1985. He is also the first goalie in Ducks' history to earn a shutout in his Anaheim debut and the youngest goalie ever to appear in a game with the team.
STANDINGS UPDATE as of 04/09/14 The Admirals (36-25-2-7, 81pts.) are fourth in the East Division and ninth overall in the Eastern Conference. Norfolk is a point behind divisional foe Hershey for the eighth and final playoff spot and play the Bears in the final two home games of the regular season on Wednesday, April 16, and Friday, April 18. Also, the Admirals are only two points behind Albany in seventh place and five points behind Providence in sixth place. Positive results in the final six games could see the Admirals move up as far as sixth place entering the 2013-14 Calder Cup Playoffs.
THE ADMIRALS’ WEEK AHEAD
Fri., Apr. 11 … at Providence, 7:05 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 12 ... at Worcester, 7:00 p.m.
Sun., Apr. 13 ... at Portland, 4:00 p.m.
• Norfolk winger Emerson Etem recorded his first professional hat trick with two goals in the first period and an empty-net goal to cap a 6-3 victory over division opponent, Binghamton, on April 5, 2014.
• Two Admirals made their Norfolk debuts over the weekend. Defenseman Josh Manson out of Northeastern University skated in his first professional game while center William Karlsson from Sweden participated in his first North American professional game.
ABOUT THIS WEEK'S MATCHUPS
This weekend's stretch of three games in three days begins Friday with sixth-place Providence (38-23-2-8). Norfolk is 1-2-0-0 so far this season against the Bruins and won the only game the two sides played in Rhode Island to this point. The series has featured plenty of offense in three tightly contested matchups. The Admirals and Bruins have combined for 21 goals with each game decided by a single tally. Norfolk and Providence haven't seen each other since all the way back in November when the Bruins swept the Admirals in Norfolk after losing to the Admirals two weeks earlier at home. Steven Whitney and Jesse Blacker have been the primary contributors against the Bruins with three points a piece. The Admirals must keep a close eye on Nick Johnson and Ryan Spooner who each put up five points in three skates against Norfolk this season. A hot Providence team enters Friday's game after winning four of their last five including an absolute drubbing of Portland last Sunday (7-2). Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in downtown Providence.
The Worcester Sharks (34-31-4-2) host Norfolk on Saturday in Massachusetts with two more points on the line that the Admirals must have if they want to continue to consider their playoff hopes as realistic. Worcester (74pts) sits a spot behind Norfolk (81pts) in tenth in the Eastern Conference, but are eight points out of playoff positioning. The Sharks are virtually out of playoff contention unless they win their remaining five games and Norfolk and Hershey lose the rest of theirs. They host the Admirals in the midst of a three-game losing streak and are coming off a 5-2 defeat at home versus Manchester this past Sunday. Norfolk and Worcester met all three times they have played this season in January with the Sharks taking a bite of the Admirals in two of them. The last meeting was inside the Scope in downtown Norfolk on Pink in the Rink Night benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Jesse Blacker, the son of a breast cancer victim, rifled home the game-winner in overtime to top Worcester, 1-0. Once again, Blacker has carried the load in this matchup in terms of offense, but Norfolk received some production from Dave Steckel and Devante Smith-Pelly as well. As it stands, the Admirals shouldn't count on Smith-Pelly's return from Anaheim in time for the three-game stretch this weekend. However, it's been a balanced attack for the Sharks against the Admirals in 2013-14. Seven skaters have one goal each with Yanni Gourde leading the charge, adding three assists on top of his marker. Power play efficiency could be the key in this one as Norfolk and Worcester rank in the bottom 10 of the AHL on the man advantage. Playoff implications ride on this contest which gets underway at 7:00 p.m. in Worcester.
The six-game road trip comes to an end in Maine on Sunday, April 13, when Norfolk squares off with the Portland Pirates (24-35-3-8). The last meeting between these two teams came on January 10 in a shootout victory that went to the Admirals, 5-4. All three games Norfolk and Portland have played this season were decided after regulation with each team winning a shootout and Norfolk edging the Pirates in overtime in the first matchup of the season. Expect much of the same this Sunday as the Admirals push towards a playoff berth and the Pirates try to spoil those postseason dreams. Norfolk has won three of their last five games at Portland and was in a rhythm offensively, netting four goals en route to a 5-4 win in shootouts. As you may have guessed, Blacker leads the Admirals in points against the Pirates with four assists and Max Friberg recorded two goals and an assist in the three contests versus Portland this season. Nine Admirals have scored a goal against the Pirates, a tribute to the efficacy of a distributed attack towards a Pirate defense that has given up the most goals in the entire American Hockey League. It would also be an appropriate time for Norfolk to build some steam on the power play before a make-or-break series with Hershey later in the week. Admirals and Pirates drop the puck at 4:00 p.m. at Portland's temporary home, the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Wednesday, April 16 vs. Hershey, 7:15 p.m.
• Family Fun Pack
• $9 Student Rush Tickets
Friday, April 18 vs. Hershey, 7:30 p.m.
• Admirals Team Poster Giveaway
• Party on the Plaza
• Girl Scout Night
• Fan Appreciation Night
Individual tickets are on sale now at the Scope Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at www.ticketmaster.com
For discounted group 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.
ON THE RADIO / INTERNET
The "Admirals Hour" radio show airs every Tuesday from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. on 1490 AM The Game. Tune-in for an inside look into Admirals hockey featuring Admirals players, coaches, and staff.
All regular season games air live on 1490-AM The Game and on 1650 AM. Listen online at http://1490amthegame.com/home/listen-live/
Fans can watch the games online at AHL Live on a pay-per-view, or season pass basis at http://ahl.neulion.com/ahl/