ADIRONDACK, NY. - It took just nine extra seconds but John Dunbar's overtime winner gave the Norfolk Admirals (3-13-4-0) a 4-3 win over the Adirondack Thunder (12-4-2-3) on Tuesday night.
The first period contained five total goals and the Thunder wasted no time getting the first one. With Nick MacNeil taking an early tripping minor, Adirondack worked the puck around the Admirals zone for well over thirty seconds, compiling several scoring chances. After a large rebound was corralled and sent in the direction of Phil Lane, Lane displayed patience at the circle to the left of the net, awaiting James Henry to streak behind Josh Brittain and complete the alley-oop through Connor Knapp to give Adirondack a 1-0 lead just 2:10 in.
Despite entering the game with six injured players (Domenic Alberga, Aaron Harstad, and Eetu Laurikainen, Mike Krieg, Adam Phillips) and finding themselves on the wrong side of the coin early, the Admirals would answer back with three of their own following the Adirondack tally. First it was newcomer T.J. Foster, in just his second game, relentlessly pursuing a member of the Thunder with the puck in his own zone. Foster was able to generate a turnover, to which John Dunbar scooped up, went to his backhand and went top shelf past Tom McCollum to tie the score. It would not be the last time Foster and Dunbar would hook up on the evening.
Five minutes later, Norfolk took a 2-1 lead when John Kurtz fired what looked like a harmless low and hard wrister on net. After T.J. Foster and Brodie Dupont were able to move the puck out of their own end, "Kurtzy" entered the zone and fired. McCollum misjudged the path of puck and the red light flickered, giving Kurtz his third of the year and Foster his second helper in as many goals.
To conclude the scoring stint, Mike Seidel etched his name on the score sheet with his first goal in over a month. To his credit, the Chicago area native missed a large amount of that time with an injury, however on Tuesday #17 buried a two-on-one that was dished to him by Jaedon Descheneau. Descheneau actually lost a faceoff all the way back in the Admirals defensive zone, however thanks to defensive support from Travis Armstrong in his first game, the puck was able to be transitioned up into the neutral zone. With a chip around a defender from the captain Josh Brittain, #74 was able to drive towards the net and put the puck on a silver platter for Seidel to make it a 3-1 contest.
Goal number five of the opening twenty minutes came from the side that started the scoring though, as former Admiral Ty Loney cut the lead in half. Thunder rookie forward Brian Ward was able to take possession deep in the Admirals zone following a faceoff and similarly to the first goal, he waited for teammate Alexander Fedoseyev to beat Gabriel Verpaelst for a back door opportunity. While Fedoseyev's initial attempt couldn't beat Connor Knapp, the second and third effort by Loney did. The Valencia, PA native's stint with Norfolk came back during the final American Hockey League games when Loney played five games after a successful career at Denver University.
The second period was much more tame, although it did not start that way. Trailing 3-2, the aforementioned Ward extended his league lead in first-year scoring, earning his 12th of the season to get his team back tied. After his first drive on net snapped his stick in half, Ward hustled back to the bench to grab a new one while his team maintained possession in the Admirals end. The very first shot that fresh piece of lumber took was blasted into the net as Ty Loney returned the favor, setting up Ward this time around.
Minutes 40-60 were highlighted by Admirals netminder Connor Knapp, who turned aside all ten sent his way. The Admirals largely operated with just four defensemen for a majority of the night and in the third Josh Brittain, normally a forward, took shifts on the blue line in effort to preserve the tie score.
With the score tied at 3-3, both sides needed overtime to decide a winner. Admirals head coach Robbie Ftorek opted to go with three forwards to start the extra frame, an uncommon practice, but one that proved successful. With Brittain back on defense, T.J. Foster and John Dunbar needed just nine seconds to get Ftorek his first win as the Admirals bench boss. Foster won the opening draw of OT forward and quickly shuffled it over to John Dunbar, who fed it right back to the Maple Leafs prospect. With two assists already in hand, Foster swung way to the outside of the attacking zone to elude his defender and when he did, he flung the puck to a streaking Dunbar who was able to get just the tip of his blade on it and bury it through McCollum for the game-winner.
The win is Ftorek's first with the Admirals, exactly one week after taking over for Rod Aldoff. Dunbar's game-winner was fifth of the season and for Foster, it was his third assist of the night. Connor Knapp had 33 stops when all was said and done en route to his second win of the season.
Tomorrow night the Admirals return to the ice in New Hampshire as they take on the Manchester Monarchs. The game is the second of the road trip and the second meeting of the season for the two sides. You can catch all the action on ECHL.TV or on 102.1 FM The Tide, the official radio station of the Admirals.
Following the road trip the team will return home for a three game set against the division rival South Carolina Stingrays on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of next week. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster.com now and at the Norfolk Scope box office. For more information on the team, be sure to check out NorfolkAdmirals.com as well as following the team on all major social media platforms.Box Score