Despite a third period comeback the Admirals lost their final preseason game against the Charlotte Checkers 4 to 3. The Checkers opened up scoring halfway through the first with a goal by NHL veteran Tim Wallace. Wallace’s goal resulted from Admirals goaltender Cousineau being screened by opposing players.
The Checkers took a 2 to 0 lead at the 5:23 mark in the middle stanza. Checker defenseman Tommy Kivisto scored on a breakaway goal that came from an outlet pass by way of 2nd year pro Rasmus Rissanen. Zach Boychuk raised the lead to 3 to 0 in the middle frame when he found a loose puck that rebounded off of Norfolk netminder Cousineau at 7:05 in the second period.
Former Anaheim goaltender Dan Ellis now playing for Charlotte was replaced in net by 24-year-old John Muse and this swap paid dividends for Norfolk when Smith–Pelly dished a pass to linemate Peter Holland who put it past Muse to reduce the lead to a couple goals. John Kurtz played a part in Holland’s goal by sparking the team, when the 6’2” 210-pound forward dropped the gloves with Checkers’ Brett Bellemore. Kurtz said, “with the team down 3-0 it’s a tough position to be in and we needed a spark and I did what I could to get the guys going”.
Charlotte pulled ahead by three goals again in the second when Zac Dalpe blew the puck past Admiral’s goaltender Cousineau two minutes after Holland’s goal on a power play. With the team down again by three goals, Kendal McArdle fought with Justin Kreuger after a brief dust-up in the corner.
At the beginning of the 3rd period, the Admirals replaced Cousineau with Bobkov in goal where he stopped all six shots he faced. Kendal McArdle sailed a wrist shot past Muse to cut the lead to 4-2 early in the 3rd period. Norfolk lit the lamp via a Chris Wagner shot midway through the 3rd. That was the last goal Norfolk scored against the Checkers. Norfolk was 0 for 4 on the man advantage while Charlotte scored on their only power play chance.
Devante Smith–Pelly commented on the loss tonight saying the 3rd period was their best period; however; he said the team had a strong start when they outshot Charlotte in the 1st period. Smith–Pelly also mentioned that they were caught sleeping and that’s when Charlotte took the lead. When asked about how playing in the AHL compared to playing in the NHL Smith–Pelly declared, “its is a little bit different; the guys are a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger; but with the lockout a lot of players who would be playing in the NHL are down here so this league is a little bit challenging too”. Since this preseason game was at the Admirals’ practice facility, I asked Smith-Pelly about the ice conditions and he mentioned it was a little bit snowy, but he had no complaints
The Admirals will open the regular season at home on Friday October 12th at 7:30 against the Worcester Sharks in downtown Norfolk.
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