NORFOLK, Va.- The Norfolk Admirals scored three straight goals and withstood a late charge from the Manchester Monarchs en route to a 3-2 victory Friday night at the Norfolk Scope.
A scoreless first period , the second period featured some scoring that started with Manchester’s Andrew Bodnarchuk. Bodnarchuck took a loose puck off the neutral zone faceoff in the Admirals’ end and blasted a shot from all the way behind the Norfolk blue line.
Norfolk defenseman Nolan Yonkman stood in the way and accidentally redirected the puck, surprising Admirals’ goalie Viktor Fasth. Bodnarchuk’s rip clanked off the short side post and into the net for the first goal of the night at 9:58 of the second period.
As the clock approached the three-minute mark, Norfolk winger Max Friberg slid a pass in front from behind the net that Emerson Etem stuck through the legs of Manchester netminder Mathias Niederberger. Etem’s thirteenth goal of the season knotted things at one with three minutes and 10 seconds to go in the second.
With under a minute left, the Admirals struck again. Two Manchester penalties gave Norfolk a five-on-three man advantage and Norfolk answered the bell on a one-timer at the back door. Etem drove towards the net from the side and crossed a pass for Sami Vatanen who was also crashing the net.
Niederberger had no chance and the Olympic bronze medalist filled the open right side to give the Admirals the lead. Two markers in two minutes and 38 seconds pushed the Admirals in front right before intermission.
Norfolk stepped onto the ice in the third with over a minute left on the power play. It took 58 seconds to capitalize.
Defenseman Alex Grant pried a puck off the half-boards and placed it in Rickard Rakell’s wheelhouse. Already on the downswing, Rakell rifled his shot high and was too quick for Niederberger. A third goal in less than four minutes of ice time extended the Norfolk lead to two,
A turnover on an Admirals’ power play at the Monarchs’ blue line resulted in a shorthanded two-on-one rush the other way. Nick Shore beat Fasth on the odd-man rush and cut the deficit in half, pulling Manchester within one goal with 2:31 to play.
Monarchs’ head coach Mark Morris yanked Niederberger and inserted the extra attacker with time running out in regulation. The Admirals’ held fast in the final minute to secure the 3-2 victory over the top points team in the entire AHL.
Friday night’s win was an important one for Norfolk as they grabbed sole possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 68 points. Manchester sits atop the leaderboard despite the loss with 80 points, good enough for most in the league.
Viktor Fasth denied 26 shots for the Admirals while Manchester’s Mathias Niederberger saved 19 pucks in only his second loss of the season.