NORFOLK, VA. - New year, new us, right?
THIS PAST WEEK IN ADMIRALS HOCKEY: (December 26 - January 2)7-4 L @ Elmira4-3 L @ Manchester
Per the usual, some of the biggest news of the week came before the skates even touched the ice on Friday. In the afternoon news broke that Admirals captain Josh Brittain had been released by the team. Not typically a common practice to just outright release the highest leader in the locker room, the announcement came as a shock to most. Along with Brittain, forward Cody Bradley was released as well, trimming the forward bunch by two.
Friday: 7-4 L @ Elmira
The stage was set for a big opportunity for the team to jump over the next team in front of them in the standings, the Elmira Jackals. For a team that has unfortunately resided in last place the entire duration of the season, this could've been the perfect way to propel into 2017. Could've.
Brandon Anderson was back in net and with no question following one of the best, if not overall best performance from an Admirals goalie the previous Friday against South Carolina. 31 of 32 including 15 stops in the third period in a one-goal game? No brainer. Unfortunately, it wasn't the same Anderson that was in Elmira on Friday.
10:00 in it was 3-0 Jackals. It was a hole that seemed it would be tough to crawl out of but singlehandedly thanks to Frankie Simonelli, the Admirals were able to come back within one. Simonelli scored an absolute gem for his first and then was able to get one through from the point for his second.
Elmira would answer the bell in the second though, scoring three more in four minutes. Back to square one.
Coach Ftorek was able to get a response out of the Admirals in the second though, as John Dunbar scored his now team-leading eighth of the season and T.J. Foster followed two minutes later in his return to the lineup. 6-4 didn't look impossible but the Jackals were able beat Anderson for a season-high seventh time to cut the momentum and take Friday night's game 7-4.
Saturday: 4-3 L @ Manchester
After a disappointing outcome on Friday, a good way to bounce back would've been taking down the best team in the Eastern Conference. Weirder things have happened, right? Sadly, that was not in store either. Well, it almost was.
An early highlight came when defenseman (now forward?) Alex Pompeo scored his first career ECHL goal, deflecting a Simonelli shot past newly reassigned Sam Brittain, who was in net for Manchester. Although the Ads got off to hot start, the Monarchs tied it up at the end of the first and took the lead in the second on a breakaway.
Steven Summerhays was in net for the Admirals and looking for a bounce back performance of his own, following a tough outing against Greenville the previous week.
Most of the third period transpired at 2-1 Monarchs but Dante Salituro evened the score on a beautiful baseball-style swing that could very well be seen on the upcoming ECHL plays of the week. (In case you missed it, Brandon Anderson had the #1 play of the previous week with a sweet glove save in the first period against South Carolina.)
Five minutes later, Brodie Dupont finished a two-on-one from Jaedon Descheneau to put the Admirals ahead 3-2 with just 2:32 left. Sitting pretty, right?
Bang. Bang. Final buzzer. Manchester wins 4-3.
The Monarchs took advantage of the Admirals being unable to hold on and the team wasn't able to even earn a point. Certainly not the outcome the team had hoped for once again.
LOOKING AHEAD: (January 2 - January 9)Wednesday vs. Adirondack - 7:15 PMFriday vs. Elmira - 7:30 PMSaturday vs. Elmira - 7:15 PM
Three games this upcoming week means three chances to kick 2017 off on the right foot. The last time the Admirals saw the Adirondack Thunder the Admirals lost by a score of 8-1 to conclude the team's early December road trip. Needless to say, a lot of locker room would presumably like to have that be much different this time around.
Adirondack is 15-8-2-3 and has dropped three of their last four, allowing five two games in a row against Reading. The ECHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames are led in scoring by former AHL Admiral Ty Loney. Loney, headed to the All-Star game in his home team's city, has 27 points in 26 games.
Following the mid-week battle, the Elmira Jackals make their first trek of the season to Virginia. Affiliates of the Buffalo Sabres, the Jackals have struggled this year and are the team directly above the Admirals in the east. After allowing seven on Friday, the team has a chance to turn it around against the same opponent on home ice and potentially gain some ever-so-valuable points in the first weekend of the year.
ADMIRALS LEADERS (SKATERS):Games Played: Gabriel Verpaelst (30)Goals: John Dunbar (8)Assists: Jaedon Descheneau, Nick MacNeil and Brodie Dupont (9)Points: Nick MacNeil and Jaedon Descheneau (15 - With Admirals) T.J. Foster (17 - Total)Power Play Goals: Mikael Tam (2 - With Admirals)Shorthanded Goals: Nick MacNeil (1)+/-: Ben Murphy (5 - Total; 2 - With Admirals)Penalty Minutes: Gabriel Verpaelst (84)
ADMIRALS LEADERS (GOALIES): Games Played: Eetu Laurikainen (11)Wins: Brandon Anderson (2)Losses: Eetu Laurikainen (10)Minutes: Eetu Laurikainen (636)Goals Against Average: Brandon Anderson (3.71)Save Percentage: Brandon Anderson and Steven Summerhays (.874)
SOMETHING YOU DIDN'T KNOW:
Unfortunately we begin this week's segment with some bad news. We're all still very excited to launch or new website, however due to some unforeseen circumstances the launch was delayed by a few days. We are confident you will really enjoy the new experience and are looking forward to hearing your take on it!
Along the same lines, I published some news last week that there have been some additions to the second half of the promotional schedule that fans would enjoy. A full press release will be issued later this week, however I can share that there will be now THREE jersey auctions instead of just one.
For years, many folks have looked forward to the MDA Jersey Auction night, the lone chance to purchase a jersey straight off of our players backs. While you'll have to wait for the official release to see which promotional nights the jerseys will fall on, we hope that's reason enough for you to start setting some money aside to have an experience with your favorite player and the takeaway of their authentic, game-worn jersey.