Admirals stun Manchester with improbable comeback

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NORFOLK, Va. - The Norfolk Admirals (14-22-4-0) came back from being down 5-1 to start the third period, winning in a shootout on Friday over the Manchester Monarchs (26-10-3-3), 6-5.

admirals1The Admirals got off to a slow start for the second straight game, allowing the Monarchs to gain first blood once again.  Zach Pochiro couldn’t handle a pass at the point on the power play and Manchester forward Zac Lynch took advantage.  Lynch was in all alone from his own blue line and while Brandon Anderson made a stunning glove save to turn aside the first attempt, Lynch was able to put the rebound home to give his team the 1-0 lead.

1-0 became 2-0 when Monarchs defenseman Craig Wyszomirski scored for the second straight game, steering a backhander over the shoulder of Anderson.  Admirals defenseman Paul Cianfrini did a nice job job pushing Monarchs forward Rihard Bukarts to the wall, but Bukarts was able to get off a backhand feed to the Merrimack College alum, where he would have the space to guide his backhander through traffic.

Norfolk Admirals

Norfolk Admirals

John Dunbar would stop the bleeding though and get the Admirals on the board with a power play tally with just over five minutes left in the first.  Zach Pochiro made a terrific pass from the circle to the right of Monarchs goaltender Sam Brittain that only had to brush off the tape of the Admirals leading goal scorer for his 12th of the season, cutting the visitors lead in half.

While the first period’s three goals were split between the two sides, there were three goals scored in the second period and they all belonged to the Monarchs.  Kevin Morris extended his team’s lead back to two after a Derek Arnold shot went off the pads of Anderson and right into his lap for an easy put back.

Manchester’s fourth goal of the night came on a Rihards Bukarts breakaway.  The team’s leading scorer, Matt Leitner, found the Latvian native all alone from his own end and Bukarts had no trouble beating Anderson upstairs.

To conclude the middle frame, Admirals defenseman Frankie Simonelli misplaced a pass that was intended for his partner behind the net, finding its way right to Corey Ward alone in front.  With the Admirals goaltender not expecting the mishap, Ward had little trouble beating the unsuspecting Anderson.

Ward’s mark ensured the Admirals were starting the third period down 5-1, a difficult task to overcome.  However, the Admirals would do it.  The second goal of the evening for Norfolk was a highlight reel tally for T.J. Foster.  Zach Pochiro, who concluded the contest with three assists, set up Foster to undress David Kolomatis and beat Sam Brittain.

Another Pochiro helper came on the third Admirals goal of the night when he created a turnover from former Admiral Travis Armstrong behind the Monarchs net, then twisting to set up captain Brodie Dupont for a wraparound to make it 5-3.

With the momentum rolling in the Admirals favor, Alex Pompeo cut that deficit down to one.  Ben Murphy teed up Frankie Simonelli from the dead center of the point, where he would wind up and unleash a blast that would change direction in front courtesy of the blade of #25, his second of the season, both coming against Manchester.

After scoring three unanswered the Admirals needed another to complete the comeback and tie the game.   The goal would come and it would be the captain, Brodie Dupont, once again.  This one came with a bit of controversy, as Pochiro peeled towards the front of the net and fired.  Unbeknownst to Brittain, the puck was behind his pad and Dupont swooped in to finish.  Manchester thought Brittain had the puck covered and it caused the referee to have to check with the goal judge but at the end of the day the goal would stand and regulation would conclude at 5-5.

Overtime couldn’t find a winner and in the shootout, Pochiro and T.J. Foster both found the back of the net and Brandon Anderson shut the door to give the Admirals a 6-5 victory.

The third and final game of the series takes place tomorrow night at Norfolk Scope Arena, starting at 7:15.  Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com and at the Scope box office.  It’s Eye Love the 80’s Night and fans are invited to stick around after the game to hang out with the team at the post-game skate.