GREENVILLE, SC — The Greenville Swamp Rabbits and the Norfolk Admirals met for the tenth time this season on Friday night in Greenville, South Carolina. Coming into the matchup the Swamp Rabbits had won the previous four matchups, including a 6-5 overtime victory on Wednesday.
Michael McNiven was making his third straight start for the Admirals, while Jeremy Helvig got the nod for Greenville. Coming into the game, Helvig, a former draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, had gone 4-0 against Norfolk this season.
One notable face back into the lineup for the Admirals on Friday night was Roman Ammirato. The New Jersey native was making his return to the lineup after missing the last 13 games. Ammirato will be representing the Admirals at the 2020 All Star Classic in Wichita, KS this season.
It was the Swamp Rabbits who got the scoring started early in the first period with a goal from Kamerin Nault. The 24-year old forward had three assists in the Greenville victory on Wednesday night. He scored his seventh goal of the season and would go on to have another multi-point night.
Ammirato responded just two minutes later with a goal of his own to tie the game up at two. Rod Taylor elected to move Alex Tonge onto a line with Ammirato and Ben Holmstrom for Friday night’s matchup. The line would score combined three points on the night. The goal by Ammirato was his sixth of the year in his first game back from injury.
After one period of play, the Admirals were outshooting Greenville, 13-12. Norfolk had been outshot in the previous two games leading up to Friday night.
The second period has not been kind to the Admirals this season and those woes continued on Friday night. Michael Pelech and Will Lochead would give Greenville a two goal cushion after two periods of play. Pelech had 10 points against Norfolk this season coming into the game. He would finish with three points and first star of the game honors.
Adam Rockwood seemingly put the game out of reach for Greenville with his seventh goal of the year just 1:46 into the third period.
But the Admirals would not give up without a fight.
Sebastian Vidmar, who had a multi-point game on Wednesday, added another goal to his stat line at 16:50 of the third to cut the deficit to two. Sam Thibault and Josh Holmstrom picked up the assists on the goal. With a little life on the Admirals bench, McNiven was pulled with one minute to go in the game for an extra-attacker.
JC Campagna had scored in two straight games coming into Friday night and had been dominating against the Swamp Rabbits this season with seven points in seven games. He scored with just six second left cut the lead to one for Greenville. Josh Holmstrom picked up another assist on the goal, bringing his point total to 23 on the season, which leads the Admirals.
Norfolk drew up a play afterwords on the bench, but the Swamp Rabbits won the face-off at center ice and that sealed Greenville’s 20th win of the season.
McNiven made 27 saves in the setback, while Helvig improves to 5-0 against Norfolk this season, as he picked up 35 saves in the win.
The Admirals finished the night ahead in the shot department, 38-31, and suffered their 24th defeat of the season.
The Admirals and Swamp Rabbits will meet for the final time in the 2019-20 season tomorrow night at 7pm. The Admirals Pregame Show will start at 6:40pm and you can listen to the game by clicking HERE or watching on ECHL TV.
Written by Weston DeWitt