NORFOLK, VA. - At one point, this team was 2-12-4-0, off to the worst start in the 28 year franchise history. As of today, they're the hottest team in the ECHL, having just broken a club and league record.
THIS PAST WEEK IN ADMIRALS HOCKEY: (January 9 - January 17)W @ Greenville 5-0W @ Greenville 3-0W @ Atlanta 3-1
Surely the three-win week to kick off 2017 was a thing of beauty, however no one could have predicted the success that followed.
Friday: 5-0 W @ Greenville
Certainly the team was hot but they were headed into a barn they hadn't won in this year against a squad that had their number.
What they did was counter that with undoubtedly their most dominant performance of the year.
One faceoff win, three passes, one shot and nine seconds later the team had the second-fastest goal in team history and we're off to a blazing start. T.J. Foster and John Dunbar (we need a nickname for them), set up Nick MacNeil in front to close the period and a dominant shooting performance of 16-5 in the opener and it became clear Greenville was in trouble.
Newcomer Joey Benik notched his first goal in debut, his second of three points in his first ECHL contest. At that point it was already clear the Swamp Rabbits were down and out and they only found themselves in more trouble as the minutes chipped away.
Brandon Anderson only faced 17 total shots on the evening, however was firm when he needed to be en route to his second straight shutout.
Ben Murphy and Brodie Dupont added third period goals, completing the Âfive goal victory, an eye-opening and dominant performance from a team that looked far from what they had been earlier this season.
Saturday: 3-0 @ Greenville
Four wins a row for a team that hadn't won back-to-back in the 2016 portion of the schedule was already special, so the team turned to the hot hand once again in Brandon Anderson.
Anderson was on his game in the first, having to kill off two Admirals minors in the first ten minutes, setting the tone for what would be another outstanding game for him.
Joey Benik proved he was here to play in his first game with the crew, however furthered that statement by kicking off the evening's scoring on a two-on-one with Zach Pochiro later in the opening frame.
(Keep an eye on Pochiro. Playing alongside recent ECHL Player of the Week Brodie Dupont and the blazing hot hand of Joey Benik, Pochiro has fit in quite nicely and could be next to go on a rip.)
Mikael Tam slammed home a rush with Nick MacNeil to make the game 2-0 but the real fireworks in the second period came when defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst engaged in a fight while on the bench. Yes, you read correctly. Verpaelst and Swamp Rabbits d-man Chad Duchesne got into during a stoppage, Duchesne skated over to the Admirals bench and then all of a sudden things lost control. Verpaelst was tossed but it was quite the scene.
Greenville developed some momentum to start the third for certain and nearly capitalized on a power play roughly halfway through the frame but in the end Anderson was too strong once again, picking up his third straight perfect game. All 27 shots were turned aside and sprinkle in a Benik empty netter (his fifth point in two games) and the Admirals were off to Atlanta 5-0-0-0 in the new year with a chance at history on Monday.
Monday: 3-1 W @ Atlanta
Three straight shutouts had already put Anderson alongside the company of just seven other men in league history. Entering the game, he was just eight minutes and change away from setting the all-time club record for most consecutive minutes played without a goal allowed.
As a team, the Admirals had a shot at league history, having to make it just moments into the second period to be the new streak-holder of the longest consecutive sequence by a team in the ECHL.
And wouldn't you know it, they accomplished them both.
Time ticked away and a scoreless first period meant Brandon Anderson had etched his name into Admirals history. Who would've thought? A young man who took the year off of professional hockey last year and started the season 2-4-1-0 in the league lower than the ECHL had just done something no other goaltender in the history of the team could do.
On the in-game side of things, Anderson's first period would eventually be his toughest, having to withstand some serious pressure from an Atlanta team right out of the gate. In the second he got some goal support from both John Dunbar and T.J. Foster, providing him with a comfortable lead.
However, the Gladiators would snap the dazzling streak in the third, setting the Admirals with a new ECHL record of 268:36. A mishandled puck in the Admirals own end was sent out in the slot area to a Gladiator forward who beat Anderson just two seconds after a power play had come to a close for Atlanta.
While that certainly made for an interesting few moments in the third, none other than Mr. Joey Benik cashed in on yet another empty net goal to put the icing on the cake for Norfolk, ensuring a return to Norfolk with a perfect six straight wins to open 2017.
LOOKING AHEAD: (January 18 â€“ 24)Friday vs. WheelingSaturday vs. Adirondack
The biggest promotional weekend of the year is here and the team is rolling coming into it.
Friday: vs. Wheeling (Roll Back The Clock Night + Pucks and Paws)
Bring your dog to the game and eat hot dogs, popcorn and sodas that only cost 50 cents. Sounds like a time to us.
On the ice, the Admirals take on their West Virginia foe for the first and only time this season on Friday. The Nailers, ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are currently 18-14-3-0 are fifth in the North Division, just above the Elmira Jackals.
5-4-1-0 in their last ten, the Nailers have been led by dazzling rookie defenseman Kevin Schulze, who leads the team in scoring with 29 points in 33 games this season. Potentially even more impressive, the 23-year-old is +20, meaning he can get it done during five-on-five play as well as on the special teams.
Saturday: vs. Adirondack (Pink In The Rink)
For the first time this year the Admirals will be wearing specialty jerseys, rocking pink Admirals sweaters that will be auctioned off on DASH Auction, a free app for your mobile phone.
The Admirals just saw the Thunder back on January 4th, the first opponent of what has now become quite the streak. If you'll recall, the 2017 Admirals nearly looked like the 2016 Admirals for a second, collapsing on a 2-0 lead in the midst of the contest, only to recover in the form of a goal of the year from Jaedon Descheneau.
Since the last meeting the Thunder are 2-4 but are coming off of three straight losses against the Manchester Monarchs. Adirondack is currently hosting the 2017 ECHL All Star Classic, meaning their entire team is skating in a game that many other teams have the advantage of resting during. Furthermore, there's no break period for them, getting right back to work in Reading on Friday before coming to Norfolk.
ADMIRALS LEADERS (SKATERS):Games Played: Gabriel Verpaelst (36)Goals: John Dunbar (10)Assists: Brodie Dupont (17)Points: Brodie Dupont (25)Power Play Goals: Mikael Tam, Nick MacNeil and Brodie Dupont (2)Shorthanded Goals: Nick MacNeil (2)+/-: Joey Benik (+6)Penalty Minutes: Gabriel Verpaelst (108)
ADMIRALS LEADERS (GOALIES): Games Played: Eetu Laurikainen (11)Wins: Brandon Anderson (8)Losses (Most): Eetu Laurikainen (10)Minutes: Eetu Laurikainen (636)Goals Against Average: Brandon Anderson (1.89)Save Percentage: Brandon Anderson (.934)Shutouts: Brandon Anderson (3)
SOMETHING YOU DIDN'T KNOW:With the upcoming six-game home stand we figured we'd take a look back at when the last time a stint this long took place. Since 2010, the Admirals have only had two six(+)-game home stands, one in 2010-11 and one last year.
In 2010, the AHL Admirals went 5-0-1 from November 26 to December 5 at Scope, taking down Adirondack, Springfield (x2), Bridgeport, Manchester and Portland.
In 2016, the first year ECHL Ads went 4-2-1, winning series against Florida and Manchester, then splitting a pair against Adirondack.
The 2017 Ads will be taking on a team from Adirondack as well, interestingly enough.
Now, since we're talking streaking as well, for those of you who caught Pete Michaud's broadcast of Monday's game against Atlanta, he made listeners aware that behind the legendary 28 game win streak, the second-longest streak in team history is just eight games. The Ads have a chance to match that this weekend by picking up a pair of wins, furthermore etching their name into history for the right reasons.