October is the time for haunting.
Friday night was to be the beginning of a new era in Admirals hockey. A return to the league that brought them to prominence-the ECHL-and a cleansing of the bad taste left by Anaheim. Everything was to be bright and shiny and new. Ghosts said otherwise.
Norfolk’s ECHL re-debut was marked instead by holdovers from the last era. Assistant Eric Veilleux taking over as the head man with Bruce Boudreau’s son, Ben, at his side; one-time Ad Steve Whitney marketed as the face of the program; the same jerseys from the past decade or so. Most of all, it was defined by Ty Loney, a brief apparition of positivity on Norfolk’s otherwise dreadful swan song in the AHL.
Loney scored two goals in the contest–enough to push Wheeling to the win. Now having completed six professional games, his stat line is 6 GP 4 G 2 A, or a point-per-game. When Loney was here, I was impressed with his play. Enough that I wanted him to sign again with the ECHL Ads. The Pittsburgh native chose instead to sign an AHL contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and was subsequently assigned to Wheeling. Loney is a ghost of missed opportunity.
Such was the case all night for the Admirals, failing to capitalize on any of their chances. After a somewhat promising first period, the Admirals never found their footing or the back of the net. They threatened-several times they threatened-but the puck was skimming wide or hitting the right part of the post or just missing it. Frankie Palazzese finished with a shutout, but he was giving up rebounds all over the place and never faced more than 10 shots in a period. Watching the game was a bit like going back to an Anaheim-era game under Trent Yawney. Grossly outshot, nothing happening when their was zone time, a competent penalty kill, a disappointing power play, and an extraordinary performance in goal by Ty Rimmer.
Rimmer stopped 34/36 (and didn’t get a star at home), with several kick saves. Honestly: I never felt comfortable watching him in goal. He had one adventure handling the puck that happened to turn out okay. A good hockey team does not get outshot 20-6 in a period and make their goalie do all of that work. Instead, they control the zone, get shots, get chances, own the puck. It didn’t happen. Rimmer is a ghost of Bobkovs and Thiessens.
Standout performances were hard to find. Norfolk passed when they should shoot, shot when they should have passed. The best chance I can remember is when Marco Roy and Marcus Hinds had a shorthanded chance. Roy found Hinds in the slot, who came up short.
Steve Whitney showed some incredible jump, but at some point disappeared. Defensively, I was most impressed with the pairing of Gabriel Verpaelst. I was a bit surprised by this, given the puck-moving attributes of Mathieu Brisebois and Charles-Olivier Roussel. Verpaelst and Marciano were smart with their pinches, kept play in the zone, and were generally responsible. They also contributed two shots a piece.
Brisebois and Roussel were disappointments. Roussel spent too much time in the defensive zone, looking for a clear. Brisebois was tasked with the point on the power play, and sort of forgot to look for the puck. No one looked comfortable as the power play quarterback. Roussel and Brisebois are the ghosts of Blackers and Bells.
Ghosts haunted the Scope tonight, and none of them were friendly. Tomorrow, they go back at again, and hope for an exorcism.
norfolk went with captain jordan hill and alternates josh currie, chase schaber, and maxime legault…scratches were tim daly, tom mele, and alex lepkowski….expect Phillippe Cadorette in goal tomorrow….neither team scored on the power play…attendance was 4,243