NORFOLK, Va. – Andre Petersson’s slap shot at 13:10 of the overtime session seized a 3-2 win for the Norfolk Admirals over the St. John’s IceCaps Tuesday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The victory sends the Eastern Conference Semifinal back to St. John’s for Game 6 Friday night.
Admirals’ goaltender Brad Thiessen (1-2) enjoyed a bounce-back performance saving 36 of 38 shots while the IceCaps’ Michael Hutchinson (6-3) stopped 34 shots out of the 37 total he faced.
Last night’s rout started off much like tonight’s game with an IceCap strike in the opening half of the first period. Will O’Neill sent St. John’s into transition with a pass from deep in his own end to Kyle MacKinnon in neutral ice along the boards. MacKinnon maneuvered into the Admirals’ zone and eased a pass to the right wing in front of Eric O’Dell. The Ottawa native’s wrister flew past Thiessen’s glove for a 1-0 lead six minutes and 23 seconds into the game.
Unlike last night, the Admirals didn’t take long to respond. Max Friberg’s slap shot from the right wing on the rush popped off Hutchinson’s chest and up and over his head. The end-over-end puck landed softly behind the IceCap netminder and trickled across the goal line at 18:11 of the first. An unorthodox goal knotted the count at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
The third period began with the same 1-1 score that finished the first period but Norfolk rookie defenseman Shea Theodore altered it on a backhand a mere 48 seconds into the final frame. On the deck behind the St. John’s net, Dave Steckel nudged a loose puck to Chris Wagner who continued it along the boards to Theodore.
The 18 year-old drove through the left circle, switching from forehand to backhand before ricocheting a shot off Hutchinson that skipped into the net for a 2-1 Admirals lead. Theodore’s first professional goal lifted Norfolk into the lead, but not for good.
St. John’s applied heavy pressure into the Admirals’ zone as the period wore on and eventually found an answer as the clock ticked under three minutes to go. Kael Mouillierat threw a puck behind him from the corner towards the crease and O’Dell was there to redirect the airborne puck over Thiessen’s left arm. Norfolk held off the IceCaps for more than 16 minutes before O’Dell’s second goal of the evening and fourth in two games tied it at 2-2 with 2:58 to remaining.
The clubs traded chances on each other’s net to no avail in the little time that was left sending it to overtime.
After 13 minutes and 10 seconds of extra hockey, Andre Petersson wound and fired from the point. Stefan Noesen blocked Hutchinson’s view in front as the shot raced into the left side of the IceCap net. Petersson’s second goal in two games clinched the Game 5 win and extended the conference semifinal to Game 6 in St. John’s.
Norfolk snaps a three-game skid to stay alive in the playoffs. They travel north to Newfoundland in Canada for Game 6 on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
1. Andre Petersson - NOR
2. Shea Theodore - NOR
3. Eric O’Dell - STJ