NORFOLK, VA. - The Norfolk Admirals (4-16-4-0) came from behind to steal a 4-3 shootout victory over the South Carolina Stingrays (11-9-1-1) on Wednesday night.
Norfolk jumped out of the gate with a strong first period, outshooting the Stingrays 20-8. While there was no scoring in the frame, Gabriel Verpaelst dropped the gloves with Rob Flick, Verpaelst's eighth fight of the season.
The second was filled with scoring and both sides alternated on five goals over the course of just ten minutes. To open the evening's scoring, South Carolina capitalized on a two-one-one between Kelly Zajac and Derek DeBlois. Down at the other end of the ice, Admirals defenseman Alex Pompeo was unable to handle a pass in transition, thus leading to the opportunity for the visitors, in which DeBlois would finish for his fifth point in just two games.
Five minutes later the score would be knotted up at 1-1 courtesy of Mikael Tam in his first night with the team. Similar to the first mark of the night, a Stingray was could not catch a pass cleanly down in his attacking zone and after it ricocheted off his skate, John Dunbar snatched it and twisted play the other way. #10 pushed the puck towards center ice where a tied-up John Kurtz deflected it between his legs to T.J. Foster and with one touch it was back on the tape of Dunbar. The small winger's hustle generated a two-on-one that was capped off by Tam for his first.
Max Nicastro set up the next tally for his Stingrays with a clean and easy breakout from his own zone. The sturdy defender found Patrick Gaul in neutral ice and a streaking Kelly Zajac used his body position to beat Nick MacNeil to the net. Zajac shifted backhand and was too fast going across the crease for Brandon Anderson, who was making his first ECHL start of the season, giving South Carolina a 2-1 lead.
Just 40 seconds later Brodie Dupont had the Admirals answer though, burying a second effort from Jaedon Descheneau. Nick MacNeil took a hit to make a play, in effort to get the puck into the zone where Edmonton Oilers prospect would pick up the puck. Descheneau would cut towards the center of the ice and then fire one low and hard off the pads of Stingrays netminder Adam Carlson. Dupont was there to bang home the rebound and tie the game up at 2-2.
South Carolina would take a 3-2 lead to conclude the scoring-frenzied second period, thanks to Dylan Margonari. Teammate Steven McParland drove towards the corner when entering the zone and evaded an Admiral defender by dropping the puck off to Margonari with Rob Flick wide open back door. Instead of using the option, Margonari got an initial shot on, to which he would bury his own second effort to propel his team back in the lead.
Fortunately for the Admirals, a timely third period goal from none other than T.J. Foster tied the game at three. The Stingrays had some sustained pressure in the attacking zone but a pass that was broken up, snagged by John Kurtz and pushed forth to Foster. #19, the hottest hand on the team, turned it into sixth gear and beat Carlson low on the blocker side to tie the game up at 3-3.
The extra five minutes flew by without any scoring and onwards both sides went to the shootout. In the first round, both T.J. Foster and Derek DeBlois were both denied. The second round came and went with John Dunbar and Tim McGauley getting shut down as well. Lastly, in the final round, Brodie Dupont struck gold behind Carlson, the eventual game-winner for the Admirals. Domenic Monardo was shut down by Anderson and the Ads benched jumped onto the ice, celebrating their 4-3 win.
Games two and three of the series will take place on Friday and Saturday at Norfolk Scope Arena. Tickets are on sale now for those games on Ticketmaster.com as well as at the Norfolk Scope box office. For more information on the team, be sure to visit norfolkadmirals.com and follow the team on all social media networks.Box Score