Admirals (21-28-5-1) vs. Orlando (24-25-5-1)
Last Time Out:
Jacksonville and Norfolk combined for five goals in less than six minutes in the first period on Friday night, but the Icemen managed to come out on top defeating Norfolk 5-3. The Icemen victory was only the second time in the seven-game series that either team had claimed a victory in regulation.
Jacksonville sprinted out to a 3-0 lead before the Admirals got on the board with two goals in 1:04 to draw within one. TJ Melancon and Max Cook provided the Admirals offense in the first. For Melancon the goal was his fifth in the last four games. For Cook the goal was his first December giving the forward points in back-to-back games since returning to the lineup.
After the teams went scoreless in the second period Jacksonville netted two more goals in the first ten minutes of the third to take a 5-2 lead. Grant Besse netted his team leading 25th goal of the season shortly after Jacksonville made it 5-2, but Besse’s tally was the final goal of the evening. Besse and Melancon both finished the night with a goal and an assist for the Admirals.
Norfolk and Orlando wrap up the season series with a pair of games on Sunday and Monday. The Admirals have won four of the first five meeting, including each of the last three. The teams last played in December when they faced off for five straight games, including three at the Amway Center.
Grant Besse, who enters the game on a five-game point streak, leads all skaters with eight points (4g, 4a) through the first five games. Brodie Dupont (2g, 3a) is averaging a point per game against the Solar Bears this season. Orlando’s Max Novak (2g, 5a) has paced the Solar Bear offense with seven points in the series. Forward Joshua Winquist leads all Solar Bears in goals with three. Four other Solar Bears have scored twice against the Admirals this season. Ty Reichenbach has played been the goaltender of record in all five games allowing ten goals while posting a save percentage of .944. Cal Heeter has appeared in four games for the Solar Bears posting a record of 1-2-0-1, with a save percentage of 2.47 and goals against average of .933.
Scouting the Solar Bears:
Orlando currently holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the South Division, leading the Admirals by six points. The Solar Bears started the weekend with a 3-1 victory over the Everblads in Estero.
Orlando’s offense is led by Joshua Winquist who has 47 pints in 47 games for the Solar Bears this season. Forward Hunter Fejes, acquired midseason from Wheeling , leads the team in goals (22) and ranks second in points (44). In 22 games with the Solar Bears, Fejes has netted 17 points (6g, 11a). Defenseman Mike Monfredo is the only Solar Bear who has appeared in each of the teams 55 games this season.
Cal Heeter (34 gp) and Mackenzie Skapski (24 gp) have split time in the Orlando net this season. Heeter has posted a record of 14-13-3-1 to go along with a 2.90 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. Skapski, who has skated in 24 games is 8-11-2-0 with a 3.19 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
Rookie Grant Besse heads into Sunday’s game riding a four-game goal streak, and five-game point streak. The four-game goal streak is the longest of the rookie’s career, and the five-game streak ties the longest of the season. Besse, who leads the Admirals in goals with 25, ranks second among all ECHL rookies in points and third in goals. Three more goals this season will give Besse the most goals for an Admiral in a single season since the Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson topped 30 goals in the 2011-12 season.
Surging Power Play:
The Admirals have scored five power play goals in the last four games after being held scoreless on the man-advantage for nine of the previous ten games. Norfolk currently ranks 15th on the man-advantage (16.9%) and has scored 40 power play goals this season. Defenseman TJ Melancon leads the team with six power play goals.
Shots, Shots, Shots:
In each of the last nine games the Admirals have topped the 30-shot mark. Norfolk now averages the ninth most shots in the ECHL (33.20). On Friday night against the Icemen Norfolk put 34 shots on the Jacksonville cage. The Admirals set a season high on February 14 peppering the Greenville net with 46 shots.