Written by Weston DeWitt
Reading, PA — The Norfolk Admirals began their four-game road trip on Saturday night against the Reading Royals in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Royals came to Norfolk Scope on Wednesday evening and spoiled the Pumpkins, Pucks and Paws night with a 2-1 win behind Corey Mackin’s game-winning goal.
On Saturday night, the Admirals (2-6-1) were looking to snap their three-game losing streak on Batman Night at Santander Arena.
Alex Sakellaropoulos got his second start of the season, looking to pick up his first win in an Admiral uniform, while Sebastian Vidmar and Roman Ammirato were making their Norfolk debuts. River Rymsha returned to the lineup after missing five games with an upper-body injury.
The first period was a back-and-forth, feeling out process between both teams. Both teams had power-play chances, but couldn’t find the back of the night. Royals goaltender, Kirill Ustimenko, who started in the Wednesday victory for Reading, looking rock steady in his crease, making seven saves in the opening frame. While the same can be said for Sakellaropoulos, as he stopped 18 Reading shots that came his way.
In the second period, Matthew Gaudreau, the younger brother of NHL superstar, Johnny Gaudreau, scored his fifth goal on the season to give Reading a 1-0 lead. Ralph Cuddemi picked up the lone assist on the goal.
Just 22 seconds later, as the fans were still in a frenzy from the announcement of the Gaudreau goal, Johnny Coughlin silenced everyone in the arena with a goal of his own. His slap-shot from the circle got past the glove of Ustimenko and tied the game at one. Coughlin now stands with three goals on the young season, which leads all Admirals defensemen.
After back-and-forth chances between both teams on each end of the ice, Royals forward Frank DiChiara finally broke through to give the Royals a 2-1 advantage. There were only ten registered shots-on-goal in the second period between both teams (6-4 for Reading).
The Royals (5-3-1) padded their lead to two with a 3-on-1 goal from defenseman, David Drake. Brayden Low picked up the assist on the goal, which was his second on the night and led to him being the first star in the game. Norfolk defenseman, Alex Jaeckle, scored his first goal of the season at the 17:15 mark of the third period, which cut the deficit to one.
After a timeout was called by Admirals head coach, Rod Taylor, the Admirals were unable to cash in on the 6-on-5 and Norfolk fell, 3-2.
The power-play has been one of the highlights on the young season for the Admirals, coming into Saturday night with the second best power-play in the entire ECHL (31%). But against Reading, the Admirals went 0-for-5 on the man advantage.
Sakellaropoulos (0-2) finished the night with 30 saves in his second loss of the season. Ustimenko moves to 3-0-1 on the season, and it will go in the books at 16 total saves for the 20-year old.
The Admirals are back in action on Wednesday, November 6 against the Wichita Thunder. Puck drop is set for 11:30am ET. You can watch the game on ECHL.TV or listen on Mixlr through the Admirals Radio Network.