NORFOLK, VA. - Led by an offensive attack of five, several contributions from the back end and a stellar performance from goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, the Norfolk Admirals (20-29-4-0) were able to take down the division rival Greenville Swamp Rabbits (29-20-4-1) by a score of 5-3 on Friday.
Norfolk burst out of the gate in the first period, striking three times. Just 3:21 in, T.J. Foster and Paul Cianfrini worked the puck around to Mikael Tam, where he would unleash a rocket that squeaked through Mackenzie Skapski. For Skapski, it was the first that got through him for what would be the beginning of a tough night.
Less than two minutes later, Ben Betker, who was playing in his first game in two and a half months due to an illness suffered in Bakersfield, crashed the net and found twine. It was Betker's first ECHL game of the season and after playing 49 tilts with the Admirals last year, it was a welcomed start to his return. An odd-angle shot by Domenic Alberga from the corner kicked off the pads and right to a timely Betker.
Another two minutes after that, T.J. Foster chimed in on the scoring by beating Skapski on what looked like it should have been a routine save. Ultimately, it was the end of the night for the New York Rangers draft selection. He was replaced by P.J. Musico with 12:31 left in the first period after three out of six had beaten him.
The momentum carried over into the second period when Paul Rodrigues extended his team's lead to 4-0. A poor turnover by Greenville in their attacking end led to a two-on-one with Alex Pompeo. Pompeo lost his handle on a toe-drag and Rodrigues cleaned up the scraps for his third goal in the team's two most recent games.
Greenville would get three in a row next though, cutting the deficit all the way down to one. Ahti Oksanen and Michael Joly struck just 22 seconds apart in the second period, giving the visitors all the momentum heading into the third. Tristian King's eighth of the year came with Musico on the bench and just over three minutes left in the game.
However, Ben Murphy was able to put the icing on the cake for Norfolk, topping off a 5-3 victory. The goal came on a two-on-one with Alberga, his second helper of the evening.
When all was said and done, Philippe Desrosiers stopped 39 of 42 for Norfolk, the evening's first star.
The two sides go at it once again tomorrow night at Norfolk Scope Arena, starting at 7:15. Tickets are on sale now on Ticketmaster.com and at the Scope box office.