The Norfolk Admirals returned home Friday to face off against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the American League affiliate of the New York Islanders.
Prior to the Friday night matchup, Norfolk fell victim to a 3-2 defeat against the Binghamton Senators. Bridgeport was reeling from a 4-2 road loss against the Portland Pirates.
Before the puck drop Friday night, Norfolk ranked third in the East Division posting a 16-12-1-4 record while Bridgeport posted a 13-17-1-3 record.
The goaltending matchup featured Bridgeport’s Anders Nilsson while Norfolk countered with Igor Bobkov. Nilsson entered the contest with a save percentage of 0.893 while Bobkov began the night with a 0.914 save percentage.
The game’s first goal was netted by the Admirals as Devante Smith-Pelly received an outlet feed and broke out of the neutral zone with Rickard Rakell on his wing as they entered the attacking zone. Smith-Pelly sauced a tape-to-tape pass to Rakell whose shot eluded Nilsson late in the first period.
The Admirals struck pay dirt once again as Emerson Etem cashed in on a Sound Tiger turnover. He skated towards Nilsson’s crease and hesitated his shot until Nilsson bit securing his ninth goal of the year with less than a minute remaining in the first. Etem’s tally brought the score 2-0 in favor of Norfolk.
Sparks also flew in the first as Norfolk’s John Kurtz engaged in fist-a-cuffs with Bridgeport’s Chris Burton. Zack Stortini followed suit dropping the mitts with Sound Tiger tough guy Brett Gallant later on in the opening period of play.
Norfolk held on to the two-goal advantage until the middle stanza, when Bridgeport’s Aaron Ness capitalized on a power play beating Bobkov with a slap shot from the blue line that cut into the two-goal defect.
The next goal came via Norfolk who set up shop in the zone and connected the dots in a tic-tac-toe set up. When the tic-tac-toe play was completed, Devante Smith-Pelly’s shot got the better of Nilsson doubling the lead once again. Steven Whitney and Kevin Gagne were credited with the assists on the tic-tac-toe play. Smith-Pelly’s goal was netted on a power play.
Smith-Pelly’s goal proved to be the games last goal as Igor Bobkov picked up his fourth win of the season. On the other end of the ice, Nilsson skated away with his twelfth loss of the 2013-2014 campaign.
After the 3-1 victory Norfolk’s Head Coach Trent Yawney told the media, “Today two guys go to battle early. They were really good fights and we had a little bit of a flurry after and we followed up with a second period that wasn’t quite what we wanted, but at the end of the day a win is a win. They deserve credit for sticking with it and our power play came through in the end.”
Smith-Pelly talked about the tic-tac-toe play, “We have a lot of guys who can make plays like that and it showed with Whitney and Gagne making that tic-tac-toe play.”
Devante also said, “It was a real nice pass. I was looking through the D-man’s legs and it came right through. It was an easy goal for me so I’m thankful for that nice pass.”
The 21-year-old went on to say, “Our power play isn’t really made for tic-tac-toe plays. It’s more a get it to the side and shoot it. We still have guys that can make skilled plays like that.”
The Admirals and Sound Tigers clash once again Saturday night at 7:15 in downtown Norfolk at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
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