Image Courtesy Anaheim Ducks
It may have been a great weekend for NHL fans and USA World Junior fans, but the Ads still struggled against the cream of the AHL crop.
For the second weekend in a row, the Norfolk Admirals played three games in less than 48 hours. This time the first two were against the league leading Syracuse Crunch and the Sunday matinee was against one of the Western Conference's best teams, the Charlotte Checkers.
On Friday night the Admirals were never really in the game, Syracuse just shared the ice with them. Richard Panik scored a power play goal 2:28 into the first period. The penalty that led to the goal was a double minor that Chris Wagner got for punching Cory Conacher in the face a lot while he turtled helplessly.
Tyler Johnson slipped another goal past Andersen 14:50 into the period and things began to get ugly. A couple minutes later Radko Gudas took on Troy Bodie and Jay Rosehill and beat the heck out of Eric Neilson. Mat Clark and Conacher were assessed misconducts for continuing altercations.
In the second period Jordan Hendry beat up on Vladislav Namestnikov and Gudas. Neilson, Bodie and Rosehill all received ten minute misconducts, but no one scored this period. In the third, it settled down and only two penalties were called but the Admirals couldn't get anything done on the power play. Somehow Keith Aulie scored with just under three minutes left in the game and that would end it.
In the rematch the Admirals looked way better. They didn't sink down to Syracuse's level for most of the game. The scoring started in the second period with John Kurtz lighting up the lamp while Sami Vatanen and Rosehill got the assists.
Syracuse responded less than a minute later when Bobkov couldn't get his leg far enough over to stop Alex Killorn. 12:28 into the second, Patrick Maroon scored on the power play, Vatanen tallied his second assist of the night and Dan Sexton recorded his first point as a Norfolk Admiral.
Once again though, the Crunch tied it up as Namestnikov went five hole on Bobkov to make it 2-2. Early into the third period Panik put the Crunch up 3-2 as Bobkov tried to play the puck outside the net and it all just went downhill for him.
This game wasn't without altercation as Rosehill and Neilson squared off for a rematch of Friday's fight and Peter Holland fought Panik.
After the fisticuffs, Kyle Palmieri continued the back and forth with a power play goal at the 11:39 mark of the third to make it 3-3 and Vatanen added his third assist of the night. The Admirals got the game into overtime but that only lasted 1:21 before Brett Connolly won the game on a shot that Bobkov had no chance on stopping.
On Sunday the team, the booster club and other fans like myself, traveled down to PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina -- home of the Carolina Hurricanes -- to take on the out of conference rivals the Charlotte Checkers.
Maroon's first period power play goal turned out to be the only one the Admirals could muster. It appears this is his thing as he has seven power play goals on the season, accounting for 31.8 percent of the Ads' total power play goals. The power play that Maroon scored on was a five minute major against Brett Sutter for boarding and injuring Hendry who returned to the game later on.
After the goal, Norfolk just skated around for 50 minutes never really getting out of the zone except while on power plays. Even with the power play being the only glimmer of offense for the Ads, Charlotte scored a short handed goal in the second and then two even strength goals in the the third to win 3-1.
Sami Vatanen did not play most of the second, left the bench two minutes into the third period and did not play the rest of the game.
With this loss, the Admirals drop to 0-2 in NHL arenas this season.
The Admirals meet up again with the Crunch, in Syracuse, on Friday night and then head to Binghamton before returning to Scope next Wednesday for a weeknight game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.