NORFOLK, VA. – The Norfolk Admirals, proud member of the ECHL, return home for the first time in December after concluding a five-game road swing. Norfolk plays each of the next five games against the Solar Bears.
Admirals (7-16-1-0) vs Solar Bears (10-11-4-0)
Last Time Out:
A goal with less than two minutes to play was the difference as the Manchester Monarchs topped the Admirals 2-1 on Sunday afternoon. TJ Melancon scored the lone Admirals goal on the power play almost exactly halfway through regulation to tie the game at 1-1. The goal was the defenseman’s third in his last five games, and helped the Admirals power play continue its run among the league’s best.
Ty Reichenbach, making his second straight start, stopped 37 of 39 shots in the victory.
Head to Head:
Friday night is the first meeting of the season between the Solar Bears and Admirals. It is also the first of five consecutive games that the teams will play against each other. After only facing off three times last year, the teams will hit the ice seven times this season. This weekend’s games will be the Solar Bears only visits to Scope Arena this year. Orlando makes only their second trip to Scope in the last three years.
The teams have played at the Scope three times with the Admirals holding the edge 2-1-0-0
In the last three seasons Orlando has won five of the eight contests, however each time the game has gone past regulation Norfolk has been victorious.
Scouting the Solar Bears:
Orlando is led offensively by Joshua Winquist (24 pts) and Nolan Valleau (22 pts). Rookie JC Campagna is third on the team with 20 points and ranks eighth among rookies in scoring, just one point and spot ahead of Norfolk’s Grant Besse. Valleau is currently tied for the league lead with six power-play goals.
Cal Heeter, recently reassigned to Orlando from the Marlies, leads all Orlando goalies, having appeared in 17 games. The Ohio State alum is 7-5-2-0 with a .889 goals against average and a 3.17 save percentage. Mackenzie Skapski has taken the ice nine times this season, posting a record of 1-5-2-0 with an .886 save percentage and a 3.86 goals against average.
Whenever the Solar Bears and Admirals meet the Ohio State Buckeyes are well represented on the ice. Orlando’s Sam Jardin, Cal Heeter, Chris Crane were teammates with Norfolk’s Darik Angeli at Ohio State University before turning pro. Crane, who is currently on injured reserve, played on a line with Angeli while at Ohio State. The two were also linemates last season after Angeli was acquired by the Solar Bears. In 2011-12, the netminder Heeter’s senior season and the only year all three spent together, the Buckeyes finished the season 15-15-5 and fell to Notre Dame in the first round of the CCHA Tournament.
Angeli, who will face his former team for the first time, is currently averaging a point per game with Norfolk (14 pts, 14 gp) since joining the team in November.
Making the Most of His Shots:
After only scoring once in his first 18 professional games, defenseman TJ Melancon has scored in three of his last five games. In his first professional season, Melancon has notched 12 points (4g, 8a) in 24 games. Two of the defenseman’s four goals have come on the man-advantage. While playing for Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL) Melancon lead the league in goals scored by a defenseman (19). Ten of the Oshawa, ON natives 19 goals came on the power play. 15 of the 29 goals scored during Melancon’s junior career came on the power play.
Melancon’s 8.9% shooting percentage is the third highest among all Admirals. The defenseman is tied for fifth among all rookie blue liners with four goals, and trails only Greenville’s Sergey Zborovskiy in power play goals.