Orlando, FL - The Norfolk Admirals defeated the Orlando Solar Bears on Friday night, 3-2, to pick up their first victory of the 2019-20 season. The win marks the first for head coach Rod Taylor and under the new ownership of Patrick Cavanagh.
The Admirals already came into Friday night with some bumps and bruises on their roster. J.C. Campagna, Ryan Salkeld and Austin McEneny did not make the trip to Florida due to injuries.
Midway through the first period, defenseman River Rymsha went down after a boarding penalty was called on Solar Bears forward, Jake Marchment. Rymsha held his head going back to the bench and ultimately missed the remainder of the game.
After a scoreless first period, Norfolk went to the power-play and at the 2:01 mark of the second period, Christian Horn cashed in with his first goal of the season.
It feels good to get (the first goal) out of the way,” said Horn. “It feels much better when you score a goal then win the game where the entire bench is busting their tails. I think we found a little bit of our identity tonight when it comes to the grit and determination we have. I think that comes a lot from the Holmstrom’s (Ben and Josh), just watching the way they play the game, just by example."
Orlando continued to pepper Admirals goaltender, Brandon Halverson, with shots for the remainder of the period. The Admirals did just enough to escape the rest of the second period unscathed. After two periods of play, the Solar Bears outshot the Admirals, 35-16.
As the third period started, the Admirals maintained a 1-0 lead. At the 7:58 mark of the period, Norfolk went back to the power-play and this time, it was Charlie O’Connor who snuck one through the five-hole of Orlando goaltender, Zachary Fucale, to make it 2-0. The goal marked the O’Connor’s first in an Admiral uniform. Phil Hudon and Johnny Coughlin picked up the assists.
Two minutes later, Orlando’s Chris LeBlanc finally put the puck in the back of the net for the Solar Bears, to cut the deficit to one. Midway through the third, the Admirals lost another defensemen due to injury. This time, Brayden Sherbinin went down to the ice, but was able to skate to the bench under his own power. He did not return to the game.
With two minutes left in the game and the net empty, Alex Rodriguez got to the puck in the neutral-zone and was able to fire it in from center-ice, giving the Admirals a 3-1 lead. As fans at Amway Center headed for the exits, Cody Donaghey blasted a shot from the point on a one-timer which found it’s way past Halverson to make it 3-2.
Fucale went to the bench once again after the goal, but the Solar Bears ran out of time and the Admirals picked up the win.
“We told the guys that that’s probably going to be our identity,” said assistant coach Ryan McGinnis. "I think we are going to be in these one-goal games, whether we are home or away. We are going to have to get very comfortable in these moments. It was good to see the compete and guys literally putting their bodies on the line for 60 minutes."
Halverson finished the night with 49 saves on 51 Orlando shots.
“I just try to keep the same mentality for every game, knowing that I have to be on top of my game in order for us to win” said Halverson.
"He was the reason why we won, he was an absolute wall, absolutely unbelievable.” said head coach Rod Taylor on Halverson’s performance.
“It was a great win,” Taylor continued. “The guys just found a way to win. We gave up way too many shots and we have a lot of things to work on to get better for this team. It was an ugly win, but we’ll take it as a win. We just have to cut down on the amount of shots we give up.”