Successful Weekend Sets Up Must-Win Scenario Between Admirals and Bears
NORFOLK, Va. – The Admirals claimed five of a possible six points over the weekend when they closed out their six-game road trip with their second of two "three-in-threes" away from home. The Admirals also managed to take nine points out of 12 in all from that six-game stretch. Norfolk started in Providence Friday against a sixth-place Bruins squad on the brink of clinching a playoff spot. William Karlsson's first goal as a North American professional and as an Admiral had Norfolk up 1-0 after two periods. Offensive persistence eventually paid off for the home team that tested Admirals' goaltender Brad Thiessen a whopping 47 times with the former AHL Goaltender of the Year stopping 45 of them. A Chris Casto shot from the blue line got past Thiessen to even the score midway through the third forcing overtime. A loose puck hid beneath Thiessen's pad and was jammed across the goal line at 3:16 of the extra session by Zach Trotman, lifting the Bruins to a 2-1 overtime win.
Worcester, Massachusetts was destination number two in the three-game set as Norfolk faced the Sharks last Saturday night. Thiessen was on fire yet again, this time pitching a shutout in a 3-0 Admirals win that was certainly conducive to Norfolk's confidence and momentum. Andre Petersson scored twice and Thiessen turned aside all 28 shots faced to help the Admirals keep pace with Hershey.
Norfolk closed their three-game tour of the upper New England area in Lewiston, Maine in a Sunday matinee with the Portland Pirates. The Admirals and Pirates were all square at 1-1 through the first 38:22 until rookie Nic Kerdiles chopped at a puck loose in the slot and sent it through the legs of Portland netminder Chris Rawlings with less than two minutes to play in the second period. Thiessen and the Admirals held off the Pirates in the third forcing Portland to empty the net in favor of a sixth attacker. A shot from the right point in the Norfolk zone with only six seconds to play jumped off rookie Lucas Lessio's stick and past Thiessen to send the game into overtime, 2-2. Scoring chances went begging in the overtime session and the decision went to a shootout. Thiessen dazzled yet again saving all six Pirate attempts, setting the stage for Jesse Blacker. Blacker started wide to the right before squaring up to the Portland net and wristing a shot through Rawlings' five-hole to seal a 3-2 shootout win for Norfolk.
STANDINGS UPDATE as of 04/15/14 The Admirals (38-25-3-7, 86pts.) are tied for third in the East Division and are ninth overall in the Eastern Conference. Norfolk and Hershey are deadlocked at 86 points each and play a two-game series this Wednesday and Friday in Norfolk.
• Goaltender John Gibson began his NHL career with three straight wins including a shutout in his NHL debut at Vancouver. He has allowed four goals in three games and is sporting a 1.33 goals-against average with a .954 save percentage. Gibson is the first goalie to post a shutout in his debut since Al Montoya in 2009 and is the youngest to do so since Daren Puppa in 1985.
• Winger Devante Smith-Pelly has taken advantage of his most recent recall to Anaheim. In three games for the Ducks, Smith-Pelly has a goal and an assist as well as a game-winning shootout goal. He has played 19 games this season for Anaheim and 75 total NHL games over the parts of three seasons. Nine goals and 14 assists have come off Smith-Pelly's stick during his NHL career.
THE ADMIRALS’ WEEK AHEAD Wed., Apr. 16 … vs. Hershey, 7:15 p.m.
Fri., Apr. 18 ... vs. Hershey, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 19 ... at Binghamton, 7:05 p.m.
• Andre Petersson logged his fourth two-goal game of the season. He leads the Admirals in points with 52 during the 2013-14 campaign.
• Brad Thiessen registered his first shutout of the season against Worcester on April 12 and recorded his third 40-save performance of the season as well. Thiessen has saved more than 30 shots in eight of 16 appearances this season.
• Nic Kerdiles, Shea Theodore and Jaycob Megna each made their professional hockey debuts over the weekend. Kerdiles and Theodore played in the last three away games while Megna debuted on Sunday at Portland. Kerdiles and Megna left collegiate programs and Theodore was reassigned to Norfolk from Seattle (WHL) after leading all Canadian juniors in points by a defenseman.
ABOUT THIS WEEK'S MATCHUPS The playoffs start early for these two clubs. Norfolk and Hershey are in a tug-of-war for the eighth and final ticket to the 2013-14 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs and the upcoming two-game series in Virginia this week will go a long way in deciding who punches their ticket. The Bears (38-25-5-5) have been red-hot lately going 6-0-1-1 in their last eight games, and 6-2-1-1 in their last 10. In six games during the month of April, Hershey has garnered at least a point from each game and have yet to lose in regulation (4-0-1-1). Norfolk can prepare for a confident Bears' squad after Hershey pulled out a 1-0 overtime win when they hosted playoff-bound Binghamton last Sunday. The overtime victory kept the Bears even with the Admirals in the Eastern Conference standings with 86 points. Norfolk completed a shootout defeat of Portland. Hershey leads this divisional season series by a slim 3-2-0-1 margin and are 1-1-0-0 in two games played at Scope. The two sides met last at the end of a Norfolk "three-in-three" in mid-March. Norfolk won that meeting, 3-2, to salvage two points from a disappointing road trip and extend their modest win streak over the Bears to two games.
The Admirals (38-25-3-7) have trended more negatively in their last 10 games but have turned it around recently. Norfolk is 4-4-2-0 in the previous 10 contests but have won four of their last six and have earned at least a point in five of their last six. Brad Thiessen has been exceptional since top goaltender John Gibson's departure for the NHL and recent additions have already chipped in as well. Nic Kerdiles has a goal in three games and William Karlsson has four points in six games including a plus-4 rating on the ice. Head Coach Trent Yawney paired a veteran with a rookie along the blue line against Portland Sunday and the result was certainly positive. Josh Manson, Jaycob Megna and Shea Theodore each started with Garnet Exelby, Steve Eminger and Jesse Blacker. It won't matter where the production comes from this week as long as it comes. If Thiessen can continue to perform as he has in net, and the newest faces can hold their own, Norfolk should like their chances in the two biggest games of their 2013-14 regular season.
The Admirals hope they won't need two points at Binghamton (42-24-2-5) on Saturday when they try to silence the AHL's best offense. Norfolk wraps up the 2013-14 regular season schedule in New York at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena at 7:05 p.m. The Senators have ridden their explosive offensive attack all the way to a playoff berth and have used it well in five wins out of seven games against the Admirals this season. Norfolk enjoyed some payback of their own netting six goals in a 6-3 win during the last meeting between the clubs in Binghamton on April 5. Emerson Etem recorded his first professional hat trick in that game as Antoine Laganiere added a goal and an assist. Though Norfolk did give up two two-goal leads, the Admirals managed to outrun the Senators in the third with three markers. With a playoff spot in hand for Binghamton, the Senators don't have to worry about points when the Admirals come to town on Saturday. Conversely, this matchup could decide whether or not Norfolk makes the postseason.
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
GAME TICKETS 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://tunein.com/radio/WHKT-1650-s29343/
Fans can watch the games online at AHL Live on a pay-per-view, or season pass basis at http://ahl.neulion.com/ahl/