Nobody said it was going to easy..
Nobody said that the path to the Calder Cup was an easy task..
And the Admirals found out why, the hard way..
If the Admirals are preparing for its game against the first place Phantoms Saturday, they sure didn’t show it Friday night against Grand Rapids.
“ We did not play a good game an it showed all night. We just could not get it together,” says assistant captain Rumn Ndur staring down at the floor in disgust.”
You cannot get behind a first place team and capture a win down by four goals by third period. The more the Admirals fought the harder and faster the Griffens moved itself to an 7-1 win behind goalie Simon Lajeunesse in front of an announced crowd of 4,362. The Admirals started in winning mode, but a hat trick from Chris Balla, and couple goals in the second period melted any chances of a comeback and ended the Admirals winning streak at five-games.
Game 1: The speed of the Grand Rapids Griffens rattled Norfolk like a bolt of lightning in first period. Skating circles around the second place team, the Griffens left Norfolk to play bang’em up bruise’em up hockey- here’s the reason. Grand Rapids in first place in the Western Conference for a reason, they are 27-15-4-0. Norfolk out shot the opponents in the first 14 minutes of play and the visitors played catch up for the remainder of the period. Both teams had two power plays apiece, but both failed to score.
Things looked good Ajay Baines who was on scoreless streak for the last several games broke lose with his second goal of the week. With a look of surprise, Baines who was screened didn’t realize his shot put the Admirals on the board in the first 26 seconds of the second stanza. The Griffens came back putting the rubber over Michael Leighton’s arm. As quick as the excitement from the first goal came it fell to jeers. The Griffen’s turned on the heat and offered Norfolk on a platter casting two more goals on 3-1 at the net on a power play goal by David Gove. But there is more bad news for the home team.
Trent Yawney a man with that shows little emotion and words expressed his anger at the bench when Griffens’ top rookie scorer, short-handed another in to the net. Norfolk needed to use more body to grab itself and its fans back in to the game. And Winger bruiser Shawn Thorton did just that when he dropped the gloves against Wade Brookbank, but to no avail Norfolk remained scoreless, down by three, quietly bowing their head at the second intermission. And once again, rookie Chris Bala recorded his first hat trick of the season with another goal in the third, it was the first hat trick ever recorded against Norfolk. It didn’t stop there two more goals were added in last few tics of the clock, ending this contest 7-1 Grand Rapids.
The 7-1 loss from the night before still was felt as I walked in to the arena. Old ghosts still echoed in the atmosphere around the Admirals camp and still viewed on the scoreboard. Saturday marks the third game against its primary rival-the first place Philadelphia Phantoms. The fans seemed to sleepwalk to their seats, and the Admirals to its bench. “ We are disappointed with ourselves, but we know we have to move forward if we want to win,” says a worn out Jim Campbell who had a power play goal in the last minute of regulation.
It looked grim for Norfolk who fell behind by two after the first intermission. But Norfolk chased the old ghosts way with two short-handed goals from center Ajay Baines and Jim Campbell in the second. Nevertheless, the glory was short lived in the third with another goal from the visitors but at the heals of defeat, Tyler Arnason tipped in Kent Huskins puck in the last few tick of the games life thus taking Norfolk to a 4-4 draw in front of an announced crowd of 5, 793.
Rookie Tyler Arnason added another goal to his credit (unassisted) faking out Phantoms’ Maxime Ouellet. The Phantoms top the stat page in penalty killing minutes and kept the Admirals from adding any more wood to the furnace. The Phantoms took a leap in the second period adding two goals and upstaging the Admirals at the net.
The northern team has yet to lose a game this season after leading after the second period. This means trouble to an offense that has lost a majority of its steam, and their number one man, Tyler Arnason, can’t continue to carry the offensive load. With all the excitement of a dentist visit, the game continued drag for the fans as for Norfolk.
Valclav Pletka cashed on a power play goal that slipped beneath Craig Anderson skates.
But Jim Campbell challenged Philly with a goal a minute later on the teams’ third power of the night. With a rush of speed Ajay Baines ripped through the seams of center ice knotting the game 3-3 apiece. That changed when a wrister shot by Dan Peters pulled his first place team by one. Arnason showed up again on a rebound in the last few seconds of regulation.