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RECAP | Admirals Defeat Atlanta, Clinch First Playoff Berth In 10 Years

Saturday, March 30th
RECAP | Admirals Defeat Atlanta, Clinch First Playoff Berth In 10 Years

Norfolk, VA - For the first time in a decade, postseason hockey will return to the Hampton Roads area as the Norfolk Admirals clinched a spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Following a six-game road trip, the Admirals returned to Norfolk Scope and defeated the Atlanta Gladiators 5-2 in front of a great Friday night crowd.

Oskari Salminen made his return to the cage and showcased a stellar performance, including a rare goalie goal. He finished the night with 25 saves off of 27 shots in the Admirals victory. His late third period goal was just the 17th goal by a net minder in ECHL history.

During the first 20 minutes of play, the atmosphere in the arena was electric, with the potential for securing a playoff spot looming. In the initial five minutes of action, neither team could create any significant opportunities, as both teams settled into the game. The score remained tied until seven minutes left in the period when Brady Fleurent made an impressive play, evading two Gladiator defenders and driving the net for a backhand shot that beat Josh Boyko to give his team a 1-0 lead. This was Fleurent's eighth goal of the season.

Two minutes later, after a hooking penalty on Atlanta, the Admirals doubled their lead to two. Stepan Timofeyev scored his 16th goal of the season, following a tic-tac-toe passing sequence from Dmitry Kuzmin and Danny Katic. Salminen made some crucial saves in the opening frame, including a critical kick save that prevented the Gladiators from scoring.

At the end of the first period, the Admirals led 2-0, having outshot Atlanta 11-5.

The pace of play slowed down in the second period, but the Admirals managed to extend their lead with a single goal. In the opening minutes of action, Atlanta displayed a strong forecheck, but Salminen made some impressive saves to maintain his team's lead. Three and a half minutes into the period, Timofeyev scored his second goal of the night, his 17th of the season, by putting away his rebound after Boyko made the initial save.

Following his goal, the Admirals increased their forecheck and put pressure on the Gladiators. The score remained 3-0 in favor of Norfolk as they outshot Atlanta 9-7 in the second period.

In the third and final period of play, the Gladiators launched a strong attack in the opening minutes, attempting to close the gap. However, the score remained unchanged until the final five minutes of action, when Atlanta scored their first goal of the night, courtesy of Ryan Cranford, who scored his 13th goal of the season.

Brandon Osmundson scored an empty-net goal to follow, his eighth goal of the season, to make it 4-1. In the final minute of play, the Gladiators cut the lead to 4-2 with a goal from Micah Miller, who scored his 23rd goal of the season. 

The highlight of the night came afterward, when Atlanta emptied their net again, and Salminen gained possession of the puck and fired his shot down the ice, scoring a goalie goal and sealing the storybook finish.

After the win, Norfolk improved their record to 38-21-5-1 and now has 82 points in the ECHL North Division, making them the second seed in the division right behind Adirondack, the first place team.

Sentara Health Three Stars of the Game

1. NOR - S. Timofeyev (2 goals, 1 assist, +1)

2. NOR - B. Fleurent (1 goal, 1 assist, +1)

3. NOR - O. Salminen (25 saves off of 27 shots faced, 1 goal)

What’s Next

Norfolk will return to the ice at the Scope tomorrow night for the final game of this two-game weekend series with the Gladiators. Puck drop is slated for 6:05 p.m.

Upcoming Home Games

Full Schedule
Trois-Rivières vs Norfolk | North Division Semifinals | Game 4
Wednesday, April 24th
Trois-Rivières vs Norfolk | North Division Semifinals | Game 4
Puck Drops:
7:05 PM EDT
Norfolk Scope
Trois-Rivières Lions
TR Trois-Rivières Lions
at
Norfolk Admirals
NOR Norfolk Admirals
Norfolk Scope
Trois-Rivières vs Norfolk | North Division Semifinals | Game 5 (if nec.)
Saturday, April 27th
Trois-Rivières vs Norfolk | North Division Semifinals | Game 5 (if nec.)
Puck Drops:
7:05 PM EDT
Norfolk Scope
Trois-Rivières Lions
TR Trois-Rivières Lions
at
Norfolk Admirals
NOR Norfolk Admirals
Norfolk Scope
Trois-Rivières vs Norfolk | North Division Semifinals | Game 6 (if nec.)
Sunday, April 28th
Trois-Rivières vs Norfolk | North Division Semifinals | Game 6 (if nec.)
Puck Drops:
7:05 PM EDT
Norfolk Scope
Trois-Rivières Lions
TR Trois-Rivières Lions
at
Norfolk Admirals
NOR Norfolk Admirals
Norfolk Scope

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