I haven’t written in a while and that’s not good. Now, some thoughts.
games 21+22: vs Providence
It would have been nice to score goals earlier in the game and more of them. Brad Thiessen looked decent in his first AHL start of the year, getting exposed to the Norfolk Admirals Experience.
games 23+24: at Syracuse
Norfolk’s fans do not care for the Syracuse Crunch, their fans, or the surrounding media. When these two squads meet, it’s an all out knucklefest. Friday’s game was a bit more violent than many either team will play.
John Gibson got the start in net for the Admirals, as one would expect. Norfolk got off to a sloppy start, allowing 3 goals while Gibson was in the crease. One was a dreadful turnover on the part of Stefan Warg. Norfolk would start to battle back in the second. A key moment happened in the game when Crunch Captain and former Ad Mike Angelidis was on a shorthanded breakaway and Gibson came out to challenge him. Angelidis would make serious contact with Gibson, forcing the netminder out of the game and to be replaced by Brad Thiessen. On the resulting power play, Charlie Sarault would find Rickard Rakell for a score.
Soon thereafter, a weird incident happened. Devante Smith-Pelly was planted around the crease, and made some contact with Crunch goalie Cedric Desjardins. CDJ decided it would be cool to drop the gloves, or at least an attempt. Instead, Luke Witkowski came from behind and tackled Devo. The result ended up with 4 minutes for roughing on DSP for some reason. Then the end of the period happened.
A scrum broke out, that resulted in several players with mini-fights all over the place. Garnet Exelby picked up a game misconduct, as did John Kurtz. Nothing really mattered until the third. With Dmitry Korobov in the box, the Ads took advantage and Steven Whitney netted a goal to cut the deficit to one. The game wasn’t over yet. Exelby fired a shot from the blue line, which Rakell fed to new acquisition Chad Painchaud for the equalizer. Sometime in the third, Brad Thiessen got injured in the knee. He would remain in the game.
Eventually, the game went to the shootout, where Rakell and Sarault scored to give the Admirals a win.
Saturday’s game had a bit of a different story from the outset. With two goalies injured, the Admirals recalled Igor Bobkov from ECHL Utah and signed Josh Watson to a PTO. Bobkov was coming off two straight shutouts for the Grizzlies, save for a shootout. Norfolk answered the call with Rickard Rakell posting yet another power play goal. The most talked about event happened around the 12 minute mark of the game.
Former Admiral JP Cote delivered a check to the head of John Kurtz, which prompted Zack Stortini to fight Cote. As a result of his actions, Cote was given a match penalty. No video has surfaced yet. Syracuse would get back on the board in the second period, when former Admiral Eric Neilson scored his first goal of the season.
The breakthrough came in the third period. Jesse Blacker continued his late period scoring, nabbing his 3rd goal in 4th games to pull the Ads ahead. This would prove to be the difference in the game and would give the Ads 4 points for the weekend.
Norfolk experienced a lot of unfortunate events over the weekend on the ice, especially in the goaltending department. Thankfully, the depth still exists and Igor Bobkov has had one hell of a week. Rickard Rakell continues to be an offensive bright spot for the Admirals, especially on the power play and the shootout. Chad Painchaud, a career ECHLer, was very impressive in a pinch for the Admirals. Jesse Blacker, love him or hate him, has some upside and it’s showing this year.
With a sweep in Syracuse, the Ads moved back into 7th in the conference, and only three points behind conference leaders Binghamton. Norfolk returns to Scope this weekend to play the Springfield Falcons.
Mat Clark did not play on Saturday, he only missed one game last year… numerology: Painchaud wears 22, Watson wore 40….Rickard Rakell is tied with Charlotte’s Zack Boychuk for Power Play goals among active AHL players… Dave Steckel and Emerson Etem were recalled by Anaheim earlier this week…