PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Ryan Spooner completed a hat trick with 21 seconds left in regulation as the Norfolk Admirals (37-34-4-1) fell to the Providence Bruins (50-21-0-5), 4-3, on Sunday afternoon at Dunkin’ Donuts Center. With the loss, the Admirals were eliminated from contention for a 2013 Calder Cup Playoff berth.
Devante Smith-Pelly, Patrick Maroon and Nate Guenin scored for the Admirals. Norfolk goaltender Frederik Andersen (24-18-1) made 29 saves on 33 shots in the defeat.
Norfolk opened scoring 4:22 into the contest. Smith-Pelly attempted a pass from the right circle through the slot. The pass was blocked, but the puck ricocheted off the defender back to Smith-Pelly, who quickly fired a shot past the left leg of Bruins goaltender Michael Hutchinson for his 14th goal of the season.
Providence tied the game at 1-1 midway through the first period. Defenseman Garnet Exelby received the puck off a faceoff and sent a shot wide of the net and off the boards behind the goal line. The puck caromed back into the right circle, where Spooner found it and scored off a quick shot at 10:53.
The Bruins took a 2-1 lead 3:36 into the second period. Spooner sent a slap shot from the top of the right circle. Craig Cunningham, who was standing on top of the goalmouth, deflected the shot past Andersen and into the goal.
Norfolk tied the game at 2-2 midway through the second period on Maroon’s team-leading 26th goal of the season. Gabe Guentzel sent a pass from the high slot to Maroon in the right circle. Maroon one-timed the puck past Hutchinson at 10:16. Maroon finished the season with team-leading goal (26) and point (50) totals.
However, the Bruins reclaimed the lead just over two minutes later. Providence entered the attacking zone two-on-two, as Chris Bourque carried the puck through the slot. Bourque passed the puck behind him to Spooner, who sent a slap shot past Andersen from the high slot at 12:17 for a 3-2 Providence lead.
Norfolk knotted the score at 3-3 with only 2.5 seconds remaining in the second period. Peter Holland won a faceoff to Hampus Lindholm, who accepted the puck along the right half wall. Lindholm threaded a pass to Guenin at the left point, and Guenin sent a one-timer past Hutchinson and into the net for his fourth goal of the season.
The game remained tied until the waning moments of regulation. Bourque picked up his fourth assist of the game when he sprung Spooner on a partial breakaway through the left circle. Spooner netted his third goal and fourth point of the game at 19:39.
Hutchinson (13-13-3) stopped 22 of 25 shots for the win.
Norfolk was 0-for-2 on the power play. Providence was 0-for-3.
Don’t miss a minute of Admirals action by purchasing your season tickets today. 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 anytime.
1. Ryan Spooner – PRO
2. Chris Bourque – PRO
3. Craig Cunningham – PRO