NORFOLK, VA. - 2017 sure is a great year already, isn't it?
THIS PAST WEEK IN ADMIRALS HOCKEY: (January 2 - January 9)W vs. Adirondack 4-2W vs. Elmira 4-1W vs. Elmira 3-0
Wednesday: 4-2 W vs. AdirondackThe calendar year opened up with the Adirondack Thunder coming to town, a team that waxed the Admirals handedly by a score of 8-1 just a month earlier. However, times have clearly changed and the team that came to play on Wednesday was far different from the one that took the ice December 10 in New York.
T.J. Foster opened the scoring in the first off of a bad turnover by a Thunder defender and Nick MacNeil deflected home a power play goal in the second to give Norfolk the lead by a pair.
Former AHL Admiral Ty Loney would cut that lead in half and two pivotal stops from Brandon Anderson (a wide open man in the slot and a penalty shot) kept the game at that score, for the time being.
With just 4:58 left, Thunder rookie sensation Mikkel Aagaard beat Anderson over the shoulder to even the score at 2-2.
However, just eight seconds later, Jaedon Descheneau would score a dazzling midair baseball style goal to put his team back ahead, the eventual game-winner. If you didn't see it, go check out the highlights on our YouTube page.
Brodie Dupont added an empty netter, his third point of the night (more on that later) and the Admirals opened the week happy with a 4-2 win.
Friday: 4-1 vs. ElmiraAfter the Admirals got their revenge on the Thunder, more business was in order against Elmira. The Jackals had just beaten the Admirals 7-4 a week prior in their barn but this time Norfolk had other ideas.
The contest was penalty ridden from start to finish, giving both sides a combined fourteen opportunities. Elmira would get their only goal of the night in the first period with the man advantage on a drive from the point.
Frankie Simonelli would get it back for the Admirals in the second though, getting the Admirals special teams unit on the board to make it 1-1. Simonelli has feasted on Elmira thus far this season, giving the d-man three goals in (at the time, two) three games.
The game was tied at 1-1 through two periods, largely due to Elmira netminder Andy Iles. Iles stopped 47 of 50 when all was said and done, undoubtedly the best player on the ice for either side.
Unfortunately for him, Jaedon Descheneau would burn him for his second-game winner in as many nights with a nice patience play to outlast Iles and bank it off of a defenders skate and in.
That put the Admirals ahead by one and a shorthanded mark from Nick MacNeil and Brodie Dupont pushed it to 3-1 and an empty-netter from Paul Rodrigues closed the evening's scoring at a 4-1 victory for Norfolk.
The Admirals had finally got their first back-to-back wins of the season, escaped last place in the league and two straight game-winners for Descheneau made it that much sweeter. A wise man once said, "But wait, there's more."
Saturday: 3-0 vs. ElmiraSeveral inches of snow in the Hampton Roads area kept many away from Scope on Saturday but the show had to go on and the Admirals may have had their best performance of the season in a barn with just 347 folks.
It was all Admirals from start to finish, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first with both goals coming on the power play. Jaedon Descheneau cleaned up the scraps on the first one and Brodie Dupont slammed home a rebound on the second, giving the Admirals as many goals in the first as the Jackals did shots. (Really, it was 14-2 at the end of 20.)
Dupont added another power play goal in the second to complete the Admirals 3/5 night on the man advantage, finally allowing them to eclipse the 10% mark, now just .2 behind Tulsa to escape the cellar of that category as well.
Albeit a bit of a quirky statistic, Descheneau's goal that came just six minutes into the game is denoted as the game-winner, thus giving him the GWG in all three games this week.
Looking Ahead (January 9 -16)Friday @ Greenville - 7 PMSaturday @ Greenville - 7 PMMonday @ Atlanta - 12:30 PM
The Swamp Rabbits currently sit at fourth in the south division with a record of 17-14-2-1 and hold the season series lead over the Ads 2-0. Affiliates of the New York Rangers, the Rabbits are having the exact opposite fortune of the Admirals in 2017, losing three in a row to South Carolina (2) and Tulsa.
South Carolina is on a rip, winning seven in a row but Greenville was blanked in the first game and scored just two in the second half of a home-and-home. The Tulsa Oilers put up a six spot to take down the Rabbits in their own rink, so you would that this would be a situation where the Admirals could continue their roll.
December 21 was the last time the two sides met and the Swamp Rabbits took that one by a score of 5-4. Steven Summerhays was making his second start with Norfolk at the time and allowed three goals in just 4:06 during the second period. However, he may find himself playing one of the games, presenting another opportunity at individual revenge.
Greenville plays against the Admirals next opponent, the Atlanta Gladiators, this Wednesday before welcoming Norfolk to town.
Speaking of the Gladiators, they've fallen to sixth in the South, the team now currently right above the Admirals. Mind you that gap is 11 points but what matters for the Ads right now is beating the teams just ahead of them.
The Boston Bruins ECHL affiliate is 14-16-4-1 and a large credit of their 14 wins is because they can flat out score. Ranking seventh in the entire ECHL with 121 goals, Brock Higgs and Justin Buzzeo are two names that stand out, with 39 and 38 goals respectively.
However, this won't be an ordinary divisional matchup for multiple reasons. First, it's a Monday afternoon on the road for the Ads. Not a normal game time slot, it'll be interesting to see how the team withstands the test of three games in four days on the road with a unique start to go along. It's the Admirals first afternoon start of the season and one of only three total.
Secondly, this is the first time the Admirals will get to see Tyler Murovich since Thanksgiving. For those who are unaware, Murovich is the man who hit Anthony Calabrese from behind, ending his season with numerous serious injuries. Murovich was assessed a 12-game suspension for the hit but we will see if tempers flare in lieu of what transpired back in November.
ADMIRALS LEADERS (SKATERS):Games Played: Gabriel Verpaelst (33)Goals: John Dunbar and Jaedon Deschenau (9)Assists: Brodie Dupont (14)Points: Brodie Dupont (21)Power Play Goals: Mikael Tam, Nick MacNeil and Brodie Dupont (2)Shorthanded Goals: Nick MacNeil (2)+/-: Ben Murphy (5 - Total; 3 - With Admirals)Penalty Minutes: Gabriel Verpaelst (91)
ADMIRALS LEADERS (GOALIES): Games Played: Eetu Laurikainen (11)Wins: Brandon Anderson (5)Losses: Eetu Laurikainen (10)Minutes: Eetu Laurikainen (636)Goals Against Average: Brandon Anderson (2.60)Save Percentage: Brandon Anderson (.915)Shutouts: Brandon Anderson and Eetu Laurikainen (1)
SOMETHING YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Many of you may have seen today but Jaedon Descheneau, because of his three game-winning goals this week, boarded a plane out west today to join the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. Undoubtedly a big achievement for Jaedon, we wish him well in his second stint up there this season.
Unfortunately, the Admirals will be losing another forward tomorrow but a new forward will be announced in that spot as well.
Additionally, MAYBE (!!!) some other weekly honors news from the league tomorrow. Both Brodie Dupont and Brandon Anderson were nominated for Player and Goaltender of the Week today and the ECHL will share the award winners tomorrow afternoon.
Until next time, thanks for reading.