The Admirals opened up at home this weekend with a 2-game set against the Binghamton Senators. Here are my thoughts on each game.
Game 3: Grant’s 3 Wishes
Friday saw a rainy night in downtown Norfolk with an enthusiastic crowd in Scope for the Ads’ first home game of the season. Division rivals Binghamton were in town, meaning 4 points and a chance to blow open a lead in the East division. I was at this game, one that will surely be remembered for its first period.
Both teams opened up trading chances until a Peter Holland minor put the Ads shorthanded. Once again, the penalty kill wasted no time in getting points on the board for the Ads. Devante Smith-Pelly picked up a Binghamton turnover in the Sens zone, hit the slot and fired one past goalie Andrew Hammond. Little did we know, this would set the tone for the whole period.
“Dizzy” Dave Dziurzynski and Zack Stortini would get into it just past the halfway mark of the period, with Stortini getting 2, 5, and 10. The Ads would kill it off and then be rewarded with a power play opportunity thanks to Mika Zibanejad being interfered with. Success! Alex Grant would fire one from the point and put the Ads up 2-0. After the goal, Mark Borowiecki would high-stick DSP and draw blood, leading to..a double minor and a 4-minute PP for Norfolk. Peter Holland would then net his first goal of the season, off a feed from Chris Wagner and Grant, putting the Ads up 3-0. Soon thereafter, the BSens’ Michael Sdao would go to the box…for covering the puck with the hand. Kevin Gagne gave it to Charlie Sarault who passed it to Grant who hit the slot and…another goal!!!! BSens did some more bad stuff when Dizzy Dave got called for slashing. Gagne to Sarault to Grant. Hat trick. The Ads played their best special teams in the short season in one period. It was all they would need, even though it would be deceptive.
Freddie Andersen (Freddie not Freddy forever) would be the best player on the ice for the rest of the game. Norfolk’s standout goaltender made one #Andersensational save after another, disguising otherwise awful 5v5 play by the Admirals. Near the end of the period, Peter Holland would take exception to a hit by Derek Grant and both would end up in a fight. The story was much the same until the 13:33 mark. Nolan Yonkman would take exception to some actions of the BSens team and ended up in a fight with Borowiecki. Since YONK is a default captain at this point, it was a captain fight? A line brawl would ensue, with Chris Wagner and Max Friberg getting in to the action. It proved nothing. The game would end with a shutout for Andersen.
While the first period was spectacular, it was not the truth. The truth were the following two periods. The Ads would only mount 4 and 6 shots in those periods, failing to maintain any zone time when they had the puck. If Andersen doesn’t make a couple great saves, the BSens get back in the game. 10 shots over two periods is not a good look.
Two points is a great result. Figuring out how to replicate it is better.
Game 4: blue zone
Saturday’s game I did not attend. Instead, I listened at home on the Internet. I got important information from it! Stefan Noesen will miss this year due to knee surgery after he sustained an injury in practice, according to Pete Michaud. Wishing for a speedy recovery for him, I’m sure he wants to be on the ice trying to make the Ducks.
John Gibson would get the start in net for the Ads. He has a lot of hype behind him, just remember he’s a goalie. Goalies take the longest to develop and Gibson is in his first year of professional hockey. Norfolk’s first period would be decidedly quiet, marked by a goal by the B-Sen’s Darren Kramer, who is more know for his PIMs than scores. Norfolk would be outshot 9-5, as well, which seems incredibly generous. Penalties would not be the theme of the night, as only 5 total would be combined, all minors.
Within 11 seconds of the middle period, Zibanejad would find Andre Petersson to make it 2-0, BSens. I’d like to point out that Mika should be in Ottawa right now. Norfolk would get some life when rising rookie Rickard Rakell took advantage of a turnover, deked out Nathan Lawson and scored his third goal in four games, cutting the lead to one.
It would not last. The third period would see the most penalties, with a Stortini getting a matching minor against Ben Blood. Dizzy Dave found Grant in the early going of the third and put the BSens up 3-1, all they would need. Ads would get a late power play, pull Gibson and give up an empty netter to Jim O’Brien (not the former basketball coach). Ads failed to gain zone time, failed to get shots on net, and let those cracks from Friday show. The team and season are both young. They take on the A-Devils next week at Scope.
Magnet schedules given away on Friday, as well as bread….25th Anniversary Cups not in stock…