game 2: wild and crazy kids

Game 2 saw the Ads take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the first time this year.  John Gibson got his first pro start, Ricky Rakell keeps breaking out, and a comeback is mounted by these wild and crazy kids. 

Norfolk to the ice in Bridgeport, CT Sunday afternoon to take on the Sound Tigers. It’s always a spirited affair between these two, with lots of PIMs and wild finishes. Who could forget last year’s Toy Toss game that ended with debris, and not teddy bears, flung on to the ice after a questionable call?

Highly touted goalie John Gibson got the start, and despite the final result, actually had a pretty nice game (.923 save percentage).  Behind his play in net, the Ads mounted a much needed comeback to salvage a game.  Scoring came mostly from rookies, a fact Pete Michaud noted on his broadcast yesterday. How much? Four out of five regular season goals so far have been scored by rookies. Let’s detail how the game went down.

Bridgeport and Norfolk opened the game with a nice back-and-forth pace that didn’t see either team really gain an advantage.  Both teams got power play opportunities, none that ended in goals. What to take from this is that Brad Staubitz is a PIM machine. Not a fighting PIM machine, just a PIM machine.

Second period saw a flurry of scoring in both directions. On an early Bridgeport power play, the Admirals saw a chance to strike.  Chris Wagner had a wraparound try that missed, but Max Friberg was there to put home the chance for an early Ads lead.  Bridgeport would match this with a shortie of their own, coming at the hands of Riley Wetmore off of a bad turnover by Stefan Warg, who couldn’t control the puck.  

Not to worry, the Ads would respond with a power play goal from Rickard Rakell,  who has a goal in every game he’s played so far.  Norfolk took the lead at this point, and obviously wanted to keep it. They didn’t. Shortly after the Rakell PPG,  Ryan Strome found Andrey Pedan to tie it up for the Sound Tigers. Well, things couldn’t get worse, could they?

Oh, you’re kidding yourself. Strome, who was the Islanders’ fifth pick in 2011, found Joey Diamond (a Long Island native) for a power play goal. Ugh. At this point, I was going to be happy if the Ads could get a point. They made too many mistakes and went to the box too many times to make up for poor play. Not to mention the fact they got outshot 14-8 in the second period, despite getting some quality work on special teams (outside of the power play goal). The end of the period saw some high quality goonery.  Joe Finley, I believe, took a run at Joseph Cramarossa, and then Zack Stortini decided to take Finley up on a bout. The end result? Five for fighting for Stortini and Finley, and an extra 2 for unsportsmanlike for the latter.

Third period came, and for the most part, was all Admirals.  At 7 minutes into the frame, another great special teams play happened on a Stefan Warg penalty. Sound Tigers goalie Anders Nilsson made a mistake behind the crease, Cramarossa took it up, and then fed Devante Smith-Pelly  to tie it up.  I was very happy at this point! The Ads took advantage of an opponent’s mistake and turned it in Norfolk’s favor.  Now, they could try to score a final tally to go ahead.

Norfolk was given a golden opportunity near the end of the period.  Anders Lee  got sent to the box on a high-stick, and got an automatic 4 for drawing blood. During the start of that extended power-play,  Sound Tigers captain Chris Bruton drove into John Gibson and drew an interference penalty. The Ads had an extended 5-on-3 and…..did a whole lot of nothing. When you have such an advantageous position, you should probably use it. Instead, the Ads luckily held on to at least earn a point.

Overtime was pretty unexciting outside of a DSP shot that almost ended the game. Unfortunately, it went wide and to the shootout.

John Gibson, to his credit, played pretty well in the shootout. Even though he gave up the eventual winner, he got it to go 6 shooters instead of the normal 5. Rickard Rakell continued his torrid pace, by getting another shootout goal. By the way, Rakell is on pace for 76 goals this year.  While the Ads came up short, they did manage a point, and managed to get 3/4 points on the opening road trip. Not only that, they saw a lead slip away in both games only to come back and either win it or at least force overtimes. The team does need to get better on the penalty kill. Shorties are nice and all, but you gotta keep the other team off the scoreboard as well. Ads allowed one PPG in each game over the weekend, probably compounded by going to the box 14 times over both games.

Scoring depth is also notable. While Rakell did have two goals, Friberg, Whitney, and DSP also contributed over the weekend. Add to that helpers by Cramarossa, Wagner, Stortini, Sarault, and Gagne.  Can’t wait to see how that does, going forward.  Admirals open at home this Friday! You need to be there!

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Beneath The Scope

Beneath the Scope is a blog that covers the ECHL's Norfolk Admirals. Compete level has never been higher.

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