An NHL-contract player and a leading scorer
Norfolk did something ridiculous last week: they actually won a series. Faced with no goalie depth and the same team they had all year, the Ads stole 2 of 3 from the South Carolina Stingrays. After playing Connor Knapp 4 times in 5 games, the Ads signed Brandon Anderson from the SPHL and traded for Steven Summerhays. Anderson got the nod on Wednesday, due to Summerhays dealing with an injury. The game was spirited, I would say. Anderson kept the team in the game but his goaltending did not lend its way to winning several games. He continued to fight off shots in overtime and the shootout, relying on physicality rather than positioning. Such a problem affected the Ads on Friday, as they would lose.
Summerhays finally got the call on Saturday. What an incredible performance that was, with recent addition Mikael Tam taking the first star with a hat trick and an assist. Norfolk now sits at 14 points in the ECHL, still worst in the league. Hope exists for the team, as they can surpass that number and be, well, not last after their two games this week. The Admirals take on South Carolina and Greenville in a two-game road trip. If standings hold, the Admirals would get 18 points with two wins this week. Garnering 18 points would put the Ads second-worst in the Eastern Conference, and tied with the flailing Indy Fuel (0-9-0-1 in their last ten) within the league. Norfolk making the playoffs is not impossible, but not something I would count on right now. Summerhays has only played one game, TJ Foster or Mikael Tam could get called up at any moment, and any number of players could get injured.
Transactions happened this week, and there were two big ones. First, the Cleveland (nee Lake Eerie) Monsters assigned Dante Salituro to the Admirals. Okay, technically the Blue Jackets made this move. The surprisingly good Jackets signed Salituro to an entry-level contract over the summer, and started the rookie in the AHL. He hasn’t been able to find any footing at the pro level, with seven games between the AHL and ECHL. As Walt Ruff points out, the Monsters don’t have an ECHL affiliate. As such, players go wherever space is available. Michael Santos used his connections to make this happen, and it could potentially be big for the Ads. Salituro scored 38+45=83 for the Ottawa 67’s last year, and it would be nice to see that translate to the pro level. Maybe more ice time will help.
Next, the Admirals traded for Brenden Walker from the Rapid City Rush. Walker currently leads the Rush with 7+11=18 points, which also puts him in the pole position in Norfolk. However, the official leading scorer of the Admirals here at BTS is Nick MacNeil, who has 14 points in 24 games with Norfolk. TJ Foster is coming up fast with 10 points in 8 games. Walker, as far as I can tell, has zero points so far with the Admirals. Walker will get his first crack on Wednesday in Greenville. The pickup makes some sense, as Walker amassed 57 points between Gwinnett and Utah in his last full ECHL season. Walker’s addition gives the Admirals another solid scorer. Speaking of MacNeil, this trade may have been executed because of an injury to the Admirals center. I would expect Walker and Salituro to play Wednesday night.
Norfolk can only take care of themselves, and no one else. Right now, the most viable goal they have is to win this week’s games. South Carolina has proven to be a beatable opponent, and the Ads have only seen Greenville once. The Ads need to see a continuing offensive effort and strong goaltending this week.