Charleston, SC — The Norfolk Admirals have hit a pothole to start the 2019-20 ECHL season. With a new coaching staff and new ownership, the excitement and expectations have not gone according to plan, when measured by the win/loss column. The Admirals have a 2-9-3 start, and are looking to fully establish their team identity on the ice. The last time Norfolk tasted victory was on October 23rd against the South Carolina Stingrays. Looking to snap out of their funk, the Admirals will clash with the Stingrays for a two-game set starting tonight at 6:05 ET.
Last night, the Admirals wrapped up their two-game set with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at Norfolk Scope. Alex Sakellaropoulos made his third start of the season and first at home. He’ll want to chalk it up as a night to forget as the Admirals fell to Greenville 8-1.
Greenville jumped ahead early in the first period. The Swamp Rabbits were able to keep the puck in the Norfolk end as Chad Duchesne took a shot from the center point, which was then tipped in the low-slot by Kamerin Knault past Sakellaropoulos for a 1-0 lead.
The Swamp Rabbits added another goal, this time from Patrick Bajkov on the power play. The Swamp Rabbits were able to cycle the puck as Dylan MacPherson gained possession in the left circle and fired a pass to the right circle for Bajkov. His shot got passed the diving glove hand of Sakellaropoulos to give Greenville a 3-0 lead.The Swamp Rabbits would add one more to their lead late in the second period from Cliff Pu. Pu skated into the Norfolk zone, deked through two defenders and fired a shot past the stick of Sakellaropoulos to give them a 4-0 lead.Late in the second period, the Admirals would strike back with a 5-on-3 power play goal from JC Campagna, as Norfolk won the faceoff and was able to enter the Greenville zone. Campagna skated into the left circle and fired a shot over the glove of Greenville goaltender, Ryan Bednard, to cut the deficit to three. The Swamp Rabbits would add four more goals and go on to win by a final score of 8-1.
As for tonight, the Admirals will face off with a South Carolina squad that is riding a huge wave of momentum. The club sits with a 9-1-0-0, while enjoying a six-game winning streak. Tonight’s matchup will be just the third home game of the season for the Stingrays.
These two teams met four weeks ago for a three-game set at Norfolk Scope. The Admirals snagged the first game on Wednesday (10.23), with a 5-2 victory. Philippe Hudon led the charge with two goals and one assist, while Brandon Halverson played like a man possessed, stopping 45 South Carolina shots, including 24 in the third period. The next two nights went to the Stingrays, one in overtime thanks to Tom Parisi and the next night with a three-goal third period.
HALVY’S WORLD: Brandon Halverson will make his tenth start of the season tonight, hoping to stop this losing streak in it’s tracks. The former second-round pick of the New York Rangers has looked solid in net to start the year, despite the 2-4-2 record. He has played in a grand total of 557 minutes this season and comes into Saturday night with a 3.49 GAA.
CAMPY IS SNIPIN’: Admirals forward JC Campagna put up 35 goals with the Fort Wayne Komets last season, which was second best in the entire league. It took him till Friday night to rediscover his scoring touch, as he buried two shots past Ryan Bednard, bringing his goal total to three on the young season.
SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS: It’s no secret the Admirals have been struggling since the series against South Carolina. But despite the record in the stat sheet, Norfolk has made slow and steady improvements each game. It took ten games for the Admirals to lead in the shot on goal department after 60 minutes of play (November 6 at Wichita). After two losses in Allen, in which the shot differential was no more than 10 for the Americans, Norfolk outshot the Swamp Rabbits in their two losses this week (31 to 29 on Wednesday and 39 to 35 on Friday).
SPECIAL TEAMS: The power play has been consistently in the top 10 in the ECHL, along with the penalty kill. While the man advantage hit a snag on the four game road trip, having gone 0-for-10 in three games, it came back to life against Greenville this past week. As the Admirals were down 2-0 early on Wednesday, JC Campagna scored his second goal of the season and finally ended the cold streak on the power-play for Norfolk. The Admirals eventually tied up the game at the end of the first period. After giving one up in the second, Josh Holmstrom cashed in at the start of the third period, tying the game up at three. Although Patrick Bajkov tallied the game winning goal in overtime, the Admirals finished the night 2-for-3 on the power-play. This brought their percentage to 26 percent, which was fourth best in the league coming into Friday night.
Campagna added another man advantage goal on Friday, but Norfolk finished with a modest 1-for-7, missing out on some golden opportunities to make the game closer in the scoring department. As for the penalty kill, Friday night was a little bit of a setback, allowing three man advantage goals to Greenville on six chances. Dating back to October 26 vs South Carolina, Norfolk’s penalty kill had been rock-solid, having gone a staggering 20-for-22. In the Wichita game, the Admirals did fall 6-2, but they didn't commit one penalty.
STARTING OUT FAST: The Admirals scored the opening goal in the first four games of the season. Many hockey prognosticators know the extreme importance of getting on the board first. Dating back to October 23, Norfolk has only scored the first goal one time.
FIRST PERIOD: The first period has become a true test for Rod Taylor’s young club. When the Admirals are tied after one period of play, they sit with a 2-3-2 record. As for then they are trailing after one period, they are 0-5-0.
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN: The Admirals and the Stingrays will face off at 6:05PM, as the game can be seen on ECHL TV and can heard on the Admirals Radio Network.