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Admirals Stat-urday: Just When Things Are Looking Up...

Jason LaBarbera backstopped the Admirals to back-to-back wins last weekend, their first of the season, ending their four game losing streak, and Nic Kerdiles finally found the back of the net.. But alas, fate would reshuffle the cards...

Nic Kerdiles scores his first of the 14-15 season against the WBS Penguins Nov 1, 2014
Nic Kerdiles scores his first of the 14-15 season against the WBS Penguins Nov 1, 2014
Courtesy John Wright/Norfolk Admirals

1 The Admirals finally won on the road for the first time this season with a 4-3 OT winner against the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning) in Syracuse last night.

2 Joseph Cramarossa recorded his second multi-point game of the season and his professional career last night against Syracuse.  Cramarossa scored the game tying goal with just 6:44 left in the third period and assisted on the OT game winner.

Shea Theodore scored his first goal of the season last night against the Syracuse Crunch.  The OT game-winner is his third point in four appearances as the Admirals continue to benefit from Theodore's conditioning assignment.

4 Norfolk has now had four different goaltenders of record and five total dress for them this season, most recently Ryan Faragher who saw action this past Wed in a 3-1 loss against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders).  Faragher and Etienne Marcoux were both recalled to Norfolk from their ECHL team the Utah Grizzlies to replace the recalled Jason LaBarbera and Igor Bobkov.

5 Jason LaBarbera picked up back to back wins for both himself and the Admirals for the first time this season last weekend.  LaBarbera started both games in a two game series against the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins), winning 3-2 in OT on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday.  In five appearances this season he is 3-2-0-0 with a 2.80 goals against average and a .898 save percentage.

6 Chris Wagner scored his team leading sixth goal of the season against Syracuse Friday night.  Wagner now has eight points in seven games (6G,2A) and has an amazing (and certainly unsustainable) 50% shooting percentage, scoring his six goals on just 12 shots on goal.

Nic Kerdiles scored his first goal of the season last Saturday against the Baby Pens and his second last night against the Crunch. Kerdiles now has seven points on the season (2G, 5A) including the game winner against WBS last Saturday.

8 Igor Bobkov, the Admirals' starting goaltender for at least the next six weeks, got his first win this season last night against Syracuse, stopping 21 of 24 shots.  Bobkov's save percentage and goals against average "improved" (silver lining) to .852 and 4.31 respectively.  Trending upward....

9 The Admirals FINALLY scored the first goal of a hockey game this season in their 2-1 win over the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins last Saturday, joining all 29 other AHL teams "just" nine games in to the season.

Norfolk is sitting in Fourth place in the East Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference, and 22nd in the AHL with ten points in 11 games.  The Admirals are now 5-6-0-0 and went 4-6-0-0 in their last ten games.

--Apologies first.  Last weekend I penned a doomsday scenario of injuries to both Frederik Andersen and John Gibson and the "unfavorable" state of depth in the organization.  I will be the first to admit I was surprised I had the type of power that would see my typed words come to life.  Had I known I had that ability I would have spent quite a bit of time in Vegas.  So, to make it up to Ducks' fans, I'm going to pen this event.  Write down the day you read it, bookmark it in your favorites:  The Anaheim Ducks are going to win the Stanley Cup this year.  And for good measure, the Norfolk Admirals will win the Calder Cup too.  Hope that makes up for things.

--Admirals' fans were treated to a pair of wins last weekend thanks to some key saves by Jason LaBarbera and some 60 minute, blue-collar play both nights against the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins.  The weekend games were almost a "must-win" situation with the Admirals returning home from a four game road trip that saw them shut-out twice and no points to show for it.

Neither LaBarbera nor Bobkov had given fans confidence, and the quick, high-powered offense fans believed they would see this season had not materialized.  Frequent trips to the penalty box, weak goals against, defensive breakdowns, and generally playing from behind summed up the Admirals play through the trip and the season.

LaBarbera shored up his play however, and due to the little, yet hard, work he put in Friday, he was thrown back between the pipes Saturday.  LaBarbera saw little work in the beginning of the game with the Admirals holding the Baby Pens to just one shot on goal in the first, but when the call came in the third, he stopped 14 of 15 shots including a save from his back with just under 1:30 left in the game.  Yes, fans got to see a good hockey game and a goalie that seemed to get his groove back.  Fans were of course surprised to see LaBarbera's recall on Sunday, and of course the collective "uh oh" when he was pressed in to starting for Anaheim that night.

--Nic Kerdiles has accepted the fact that he has to score goals.  He knows that with injuries to key players that he has to step up in a big way, a task that he seems to relish in.  In eight games in October, Kerdiles was good for five assists (three on the power play) and 14 shots on goal.  In three games in November, he's netted two goals including a game-winner and already launched nine pucks at the net.  Kerdiles also has an edge to his game with three fights, and has admitted he likes the physical games where he can get in and mix it up.  Fans and the organization are certainly looking forward to seeing him mature and contribute even more this season.

--Joseph Cramarossa, the "enigma" of the Admirals.  He's played in eight games this season, been a healthy scratch in favor of defensemen playing forward, and yet he's tied for fifth on the team in scoring with two goals and two assists.  He's been held without a shot in three of the eight games he's been in, and he's also had two multi-point games with a goal and an assist in each.  Some games he's a force, others you don't even know he dressed.  He's already  equaled his first season point totals with his four points--last season he dressed in 47 games and managed only one goal and three assists.

--Igor Bobkov, the Admirals' Number One goaltender while LaBarbera is on recall to Anaheim, is now 1-2 on the season and has looked, well, below average in his limited appearances.  I was personally looking forward to seeing "Bobber" get another chance this season after he was buried in the ECHL last season.  When he was recalled and called on he was 5-3-1-1 with a 2.43 goals against average and .919 save percentage.  He was the ECHL Goalie of the Month twice in Feb and March, and things were only looking up.

I've since come to believe however that the organization re-signed him to a one year extension simply to fill a roster position.  Based on his performances of late (and it is a small sample size) I would not be surprised if he's a throw-in in a trade at the deadline or if he's allowed to walk away at the end of the season.  I was fairly certain that would be the case last season when instead of recalling him to Norfolk to fill in for the goalie shuffling (Viktor Fasth injury, Andersen recall) the Admirals went out and signed Brad Thiessen.

He hasn't done himself any favors with his play thus far this season, however now that he's going to be "the man" while Gibson is out with a groin injury, he may have an opportunity to turn all that around.  His win last night is a step in the right direction, but it will be important for his future with the organization to step up and string some wins together.

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