NORFOLK, VA. – Devante Smith-Pelly scored his team-leading 23rd and 24th goals late in the third period as the Norfolk Admirals (34-21-1-7, 76 points) defeated the Charlotte Checkers (31-29-1-2, 65 points), 5-3, on Wednesday night at Norfolk Scope.
Dave Steckel also registered a two-point night while Max Friberg and Steven Whitney each tallied a goal for the home-standing Admirals. Norfolk’s John Gibson (20-14-4) stopped 22 of 25 shots for his team-leading 20th victory of the season.
Charlotte opened the scoring as time wound down in the opening period. Following a Michal Jordan shot from the blue line, Chris Terry deflected his eighth goal in as many games against the Admirals to give the visitors the 1-0 advantage.
Less than two minutes into the second frame, Norfolk answered back from behind the net as Max Sauve slipped a pass through a pair of Checkers to below the left faceoff circle. Friberg then snuck a shot between the left goal post and Muse for his 14th goal of the season at 1:39 of the second period.
The Checkers regained a one-goal lead with an unassisted goal by Matt Marquardt. After picking up an errant pass, Marquardt’s shot found it’s way over Gibson and squeaked over the goal line to give the Checkers the 2-1 lead.
The Admirals tallied a pair of goals thirteen seconds apart to capture a 3-2 lead late in the second frame as Steckel intercepted a pass in the middle of the offensive zone and spun around to fire his eighth goal of the season.
Less than a minute later, in his 800th professional game, Garnet Exelby knocked a pass up along the sideboards to Steckel and from the center slot, Steven Whitney picked up the pass and sent a wrist shot over Muse to give Norfolk the 3-2 lead.
Nearing the midway mark of the final period, Charlotte’s Brett Sutter notched the game at 3-3 from the right faceoff dot. Sutter sent a wrist shot over the blocker of Gibson to tie the game at 7:42 of the third period and the game remained tied until late in the third period when the Admirals took the lead for good.
With just less than two minutes left, Antoine Laganiere found Smith-Pelly in the center of the Charlotte zone. Smith-Pelly collected the pass and fired a slap shot over Muse to give the Admirals a 4-3 lead with 1:58 remaining in the third period.
In the waning seconds of regulation, Smith-Pelly knocked down a Charlotte pass and buried an empty-netter to cap off the scoring and give the Admirals the 5-3 victory.
The Admirals concluded the contest with one goal on a pair of power play attempts while Charlotte finished the night scoreless on their two man advantages.
Norfolk’s five-game home stand continues on Friday and Saturday night as the division-leading Binghamton Senators visit Scope Arena. Friday night’s contest will feature Mascot Mania and adoptVAkids night at Norfolk Scope while the puck is set to drop at 7:30 p.m.
Game tickets are now on sale, and are available through the Norfolk Scope Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at ticketmaster.com.
1. Devante Smith-Pelly – NOR
2. Dave Steckel - NOR
3. Brett Sutter - CHA