NORFOLK, VA-Dave Steckel and Antoine Laganiere each finished with a goal and an assist, while Viktor Fasth made 26 saves to help lift the Norfolk Admirals to a 4-1 victory over the Manchester Monarchs Saturday night at the Norfolk Scope. The win is the fourth-straight for Norfolk.
Norfolk wasted little time seizing control of the game when winger Devante Smith-Pelly snapped a shot off the back wall after entering the Manchester zone. Dave Steckel followed Smith-Pelly’s effort and steered the ricochet in front of Monarchs’ goaltender Jean-Francois Berube.
Crashing the net was Antoine Laganiere who jabbed the floating puck through Berube’s defense for the early lead. Laganiere’s eighth of the season and second this week, came with only two minutes and seven seconds elapsed in the first period.
Manchester answered after a Nolan Yonkman turnover in the Norfolk zone nine minutes later. Scott Sabourin cut off a pass along the half boards and rushed the puck to Hunter Bishop hovering near the Norfolk crease. Bishop turned towards the net then stuck a skate into the ice to let the Admirals’ Kevin Gagne fly by before flicking a backhander through the legs of Viktor Fasth. Fasth, making his fifth start for Norfolk since being reassigned to Norfolk on a conditioning loan, surrendered the equalizer with 8:31 to play in the opening period.
The score stayed even through 13 minutes in the second period until the Admirals ran away from the Monarchs with three goals. The first of the three hopped off the stick of Dave Steckel and fluttered past Berube for the 2-1 lead at 13:02.
Three minutes later it was Chris Wagner who put more distance between his team and the visitors. Wagner took off on a breakaway with a loose puck that bounced over the stick of a Monarch defenseman at the Norfolk blue line. One-on-one with Berube, the Admirals’ center forward picked his spot and placed a wrister low to the glove side that triggered the red light at 16:11 of the second.
Just as it looked as if the horn would save Manchester from any further damage, Laganiere left a puck low in the slot for an oncoming Steve Eminger. Berube couldn’t locate it amongst the traffic in front and Eminger sent a shot that found its way through bodies and into the top shelf with two seconds left before intermission. It was only his second marker of the season, and Norfolk entered the locker room with a three-goal lead heading to the third.
Manchester never threatened or sustained any kind of offensive pressure in the third period of play, as Fasth was able to turn aside all nine shots faced in the final frame to secure the win. The Admirals came away with a big 4-1 victory over the AHL’s leading points team. Norfolk picked up their fourth straight win, and swept the Monarchs who still sit atop the Eastern Conference despite losing for the second time this weekend.
Viktor Fasth had another strong performance making 26 saves in his third winning effort for Norfolk. Manchester’s Jean Francois-Berube struggled in a 28-save outing that brought his loss total to 16. Norfolk winger Devante Smith-Pelly helped on three goals and led everyone with three points.