NORFOLK, VA. - The team's northeastern road trip has concluded and several roster changes have happened. Let's access.
THIS PAST WEEK IN ADMIRALS HOCKEY (December 5 - December 12)
4-3 OTW @ Adirondack6-3 L @ Manchester5-3 L @ Manchester8-1 L @ Adirondack
One week ago today the team kick off it's four game trek in New York and Manchester. Before the puck even touched the ice in the first game, the Admirals were already on the wrong side of the coin. Goaltender Eetu Laurikainen suffered a lower-body injury during morning skate, limiting the Admirals to one goalie to play four games in five days. It would later be revealed that Eetu will miss at least a month, thus placing the tending all in the hands of Connor Knapp. With Laurikainen being added to the list of scratches, the Admirals number grew to seven in terms of banged up bodies.
Regardless, there was a game to be played Tuesday evening and with just five able-bodied defenseman and an emergency backup goaltender, the Admirals pulled out a win. To add even more of a twist, the Admirals were down 1-0 just two minutes in. However, unlike any game prior this season, the Admirals bounced back to score three in the opening twenty minutes. John Dunbar and John Kurtz were the first two goal scorers, the start to what would be a big night for them. Mike Seidel chimed in with one of his own, which was big in its own right considering it was his first game back from injury. Unfortunately for Seidel, he would suffer a different injury later in the contest, putting him back on the shelf for at least a month once again. Up 3-1 the Thunder crunched back with two of their own, forcing the game into overtime. It took all but nine seconds for TJ Foster to collect his third assist of the night, finding a streaking Dunbar crashing the net and burying to give the Admirals a massive 4-3 win to begin the trip.
Wednesday was a different day though and the Manchester Monarchs were null too kind to the Admirals. Prior to the game, the Admirals brought Alex Micallef on board for some defensive help. Micallef had attended training camp with the team under Rod Aldoff, however was released in the final round of cuts prior to the season starting. So Seidel out, Micallef in on the back end, and Rob Lemelin would serve as the team's emergency backup to Connor Knapp.
When the game got underway the Admirals found themselves down early once again, but whom other than T.J. Foster to even the score just two minutes later. Unfortunately, Manchester added another before the period came to a conclusion and then three out of four more in the second. Trailing 5-2 at the end of 40, the writing was on the wall for a team who has had their toughest time scoring in the third. Both sides traded a goal but the half-dozen from Manchester was too much for the boys in blue.
After a day off on Thursday, the team was back on the very same ice Friday, looking to slow down the dominant scoring of the Monarchs. With no goaltending help able to arrive in time, the crew was forced to turn to Connor Knapp once again. He was greeted by a season-high 46 shots from the Manchester, including 34 alone in the final 40 minutes. Five got by Knapp and unfortunately Friday was not the first time this season the Admirals would get five of their own. Despite a scoreless first the team gave up four in the second, ultimately being their downfall. Maple Leafs prospect T.J. Foster was once again the highlight for Norfolk, scoring two. John Kurtz added a goal in the final minute but it wasn't enough, 5-3 Manchester final.
The crew got out of SNHU arena and headed back towards Glens Falls, New York, in hopes of finishing the road trip with the same magic they started it with. To say that didn't quite happen was an understatement. The Thunder opened the scoring with Mikkel Aagaard (remember that name) but thirty seconds later, Paul Rodrigues answered back with his second of the season. Seemed about par, right? Well, all except for the fact that the Thunder scored SEVEN in a row in the final 40. Aagaard capped his hat trick and unfortunately the Admirals suffered their toughest loss of the year, 8-1.
Following the team's road trip, the team immediately released defenseman Brandon Blair and Travis Armstrong from their loans, both departing back to their SPHL teams. Armstrong had just officially been added on Monday, December 5 because of the injuries to Aaron Harstad, Mike Krieg, Adam Phillips and Anthony Calabrese on the blue line.
Monday brought more roster moves to the team, as the staff parted ways with Sam Noreau and Alexandre Ranger, shipping them to the Tulsa Oilers in exchange for forward Ben Murphy and goaltender Steven Summerhays. Murphy will provide the sense of reliable two-way forward and Summerhays comes in with Knapp currently being the only healthy netminder. Again, Laurikainen is expected to miss at least a month.
Today, the team was thankful to be assigned defenseman Mikael Tam from the Bakersfield Condors. Tam has over 100 combined games of AHL and ECHL experience and is eager to begin playing some games. He'll wear #22 and is expected to play in this upcoming series against South Carolina.
Additionally, the team went out and acquired the rights to goaltender Brandon Anderson this afternoon. Anderson, who was currently playing with the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs of the SPHL and being coach by Sam Ftorek, Robbie's son, adds another able-body to the crease. It's not a bad idea considering the amount of injuries that have already been sustained by the existing crew that dons an Admirals sweater.
LOOKING AHEAD (December 14 - December 21)
So, now that we've recapped four games and the exchanging of six players, it's time to look ahead. Looking forth isn't too far down the line, considering that in less than 24 hours the team will take the ice for the first meeting at Scope of the season against the South Carolina Stingrays.
Before we get to the games, yes, more roster moves will be announced tomorrow prior to puck drop. An 8-1 loss and a 1-3 road trip certainly prompts some moves being made. With that being said, there will be at least six new faces in Admirals sweaters this weekend. Some have already been announced; you'll have to check back here for more news in the morning.
Four games in five days was a test for the crew last weekend and another three games in four days certainly will test the conditioning of the roster. The Stingrays are currently 11-9-1-0 and as an organization are riding the wave of a viral Christmas dance video (it's gold, check it out). Back on Saturday, November 26 the two sides met in North Charleston and it favored the home team 5-1. It was the third game in three days of the Thanksgiving trip for the Admirals and eventually wound up being the final game Rod Aldoff coached for the team. Despite dropping both in Atlanta, the team was up 1-0 in the early third against the Stingrays. Due to sloppy play in their own end and an inability to manage the puck though, the divisional foes scored five goals from five different players in 13 minutes to storm back and beat the Admirals.
ADMIRALS LEADERS (SKATERS):Games Played: Gabriel Verpaelst, Josh Brittain, Nick MacNeil (23)Goals: Nick MacNeil and John Dunbar (6)Assists: Four Tied (7)Points: Nick MacNeil (13)Power Play Goals: Four Tied (1)Shorthanded Goals: Nick MacNeil (1)+/-: Alex Micaellef and Brandon Blair (+1)*(Newcomer Ben Murphy was +2 with Tulsa)Penalty Minutes: Gabriel Verpaelst (71)
ADMIRALS LEADERS (GOALIES):Games Played: Connor Knapp (13)Wins: Connor Knapp (2)Losses: Connor Knapp and Eetu Laurikainen (10)Minutes: Connor Knapp (741)Goals Against Average: Connor Knapp (3.56)Save Percentage: Connor Knapp (.897)
SOMETHING YOU DIDN'T KNOW:
Okay, we've been dragging it out for quite some time but the third jerseys will officially make their debut tomorrow! We know a large amount of our fan base resonates with the old gold and blue anchor logo, so that'll be on display at all three home games this upcoming series. Additionally, if you've been thinking about snagging some merchandise with the anchor logo, we recommend you do that this trip. From here on out, we will only be selling the anchor merchandise on games where we are wearing the sweater.
Our merchandise stands will also feature Admirals Mystery Grab Bags this weekend. The bags will be sold for $20 and all will contain AT LEAST a $20 value inside. Some mystery bags will even include a voucher for an authentic jersey. Yes, that's correct. Some will contain vouchers for tickets to future games and other rare items. Be sure to grab yours.
Lastly, along with all of the roster moves that have taken place, the Admirals will be welcoming a new member of the front office as well. Brooke Cranor will be joning the staff this Thursday under the title of Community Affairs.
As always, any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, email@example.com is always open. Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow night!