NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk Admirals surrendered four goals in the third period, which trumped a one-goal lead and two one-goal comebacks in a 5-3 Game 3 loss to the St. John’s IceCaps Saturday night. St. John’s now controls the series, 2-1, following the victory at Norfolk Scope Arena.
The first penalty of the evening sent Steve Eminger to the box on a crosscheck, which opened the door for an IceCap power play that found a groove in Game 2. Zach Redmond slid a pass across the top of the Admirals’ zone for Eric O’Dell off the draw and O’Dell drove towards Thiessen. His first shot led to a rebound, which he returned on net under the glove of a diving Thiessen at 11:19.
It was the third power-play goal of the semifinal given up by the Admirals after they began the postseason killing 21 of 22 man advantages in their opening round series versus Manchester.
Winger Stefan Noesen made both his home ice debut and professional postseason debut almost seven months to the day since he suffered a severe lower-body injury in the second game of Norfolk’s regular season. The first-round draft pick spun and fired a loose puck from the middle slot into Hutchinson’s pads that Max Friberg recovered and put away from up close. Noesen’s first professional assist and point helped knot the score at 1-1 at 16:53 of the first period.
Less than two minutes later, Emerson Etem raced into IceCap territory and dropped the puck to defenseman Jesse Blacker trailing the play. Blacker stalled before ripping a shot along the ice through Hutchinson’s legs for a 2-1 Admirals’ lead 18 minutes and 25 seconds deep in the opening frame.
A scoreless second period preceded an eventful third that saw four goals. Rookie Josh Morrissey picked up his second marker of the postseason with a slap shot from the blue line that slithered through two screens and Thiessen’s legs just 39 seconds into the period.
Ben Chiarot and the IceCaps took control of momentum when he scored from almost the same spot Morrissey did eight minutes earlier. Chiarot’s shot at 8:48 knuckled before dipping under a screen and past Thiessen who never saw the puck. Two straight goals for St. John’s pushed them ahead yet again, 3-2.
The Admirals responded as they have done consistently in the postseason. Josh Manson controlled a deflection from the net along the boards and spotted Hutchinson on the seat of his pants in the crease. A perfectly placed wrister flew into the top shelf to tie the game at three with 10:25 to play in regulation.
Just a minute and five seconds later however, St. John’s’ Jerome Samson glided into a loose puck in the right circle and snapped it over Thiessen’s left shoulder from 20 feet away for a 4-3 IceCap advantage at 10:40 of the third period. Samson’s first of the playoffs turned out to be the game-winner cushioned by an empty-net goal from Adam Lowry with eight seconds left.
A promising response to two one-goal deficits by the Admirals’ wasn’t enough and St. John’s earns their second win of the series and a 2-1 series lead.
The Admirals and IceCaps stay in Norfolk for Games 4 and 5 of this seven-game series. Game 4 starts at 7:15 p.m. Monday night, and Game 5 is scheduled for the same time on Tuesday at Scope. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
Second round tickets are available for purchase for individual games. Visit the Scope Box Office Stop by the Admirals’ Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com.
1. Jerome Samson - STJ
2. Ben Chiarot - STJ
3. Josh Manson - NOR