The Norfolk Admirals and Hershey Bears faced off Friday night in an East Division showdown. The two teams meet again Saturday night at 7:15 EST. Frederik Andersen was summoned to start in net for Norfolk. Hershey countered with Danny Sabourin. Beginning the night, Norfolk trailed Hershey by nine points in the East Division standings.
Dan Sexton put Norfolk on top midway through the first period. Admirals forward John Kurtz sauced a tape to tape pass to Sexton. The Admirals right-wing tickled the twine beating Sabourin high blocker side scoring his fifth goal of the season. Norfolk ended the first period on top one to zero. Norfolk also heavily outshot Hershey 15 to 5.
Admirals defenseman Sami Vatanen took advantage of a five on three power play 6:08 into the middle stanza. Patrick Maroon slid a pass to Vatanen who was wide open in the left faceoff circle and one-timed a shot that eluded Sabourin pulling the home team in front by two.
Hershey center man Jeff Taffe pulled his club within one when Admirals forward Patrick Maroon lost control of the puck in the defensive zone. Taffe cashed in on Maroon’s turnover rifling a slap shot past Andersen in the lighter half of the second. Despite being scored on, Norfolk headed into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead. The Admirals repeated what they did in the first outshooting the Bears 21-10.
Admiral’s tough guy Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond dropped the mitts with Hershey’s enforcer Patrick Wellar early into the third period. PL3’s fight paved the way to a Devante Smith-Pelly and Julien Brouillette scrap minutes later. The Admirals picked up momentum after the duels. Patrick Maroon extended Norfolk’s lead when Sami Vatanen made a quick outlet pass to Maroon. The 1988-born forward dashed in on Sabourin and lit the lamp pulling the home team ahead by two.
Josh Brittain made matters worse for the Bears scoring on the P.P. that put Norfolk on top 4-1. Brittain was left wide open in the high slot. Maroon found Brittain who shelved his ninth of the year. John Mitchell added insult to injury for Sabourin and company netting the fifth goal of the night for Norfolk with minutes remaining in regulation.
Norfolk head coach Trent Yawney shared his thoughts on his team’s success stating, “They weren’t happy with what happened against Charlotte. It wasn’t true to form the way we have been playing, but I said we were lucky to get a point. You’ve always got to like the way they responded.” Yawney also went on to say, “Everyone’s effort had an impact on the game.”
When asked about Smith-Pelly’s fight Yawney declared, “Deevo (Smith-Pelly) can take care of himself. I just think he had enough there for a bit.” Norfolk’s tough customer John Kurtz chirped about Smith-Pelly’s fight, “We were on the power play. You usually don’t see a fight on the power play, but Deevo’s a tough guy. He never backs down from anybody. It was inspiring to see that one.”
When asked what changed from Wednesday’s game, Norfolk defenseman Sami Vatanen replied, “I think we played a much better game today. It was a whole different game. I think it was so slow of a tempo on Wednesday it felt so weird nothing happened. We played a bad game then. We played a much better game today.”
Frederik Andersen improved his record to 14-11-1. Danny Sabourin was handed the loss. His record now reads 8-9-3. Norfolk looks to sweep the weekend series against the Bears as they faceoff in a rematch Saturday night in downtown Norfolk.
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