Whale lose in overtime
Norfolk, VA - The Connecticut Whale got its first point of the young season, courtesy of a third-period comeback, but remained winless on the season Friday, as Corey Elkins' third goal of the game with 29.2 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Norfolk Admirals a 5-4 win at Scope Arena.
Brandon Segal, who won a Calder Cup with the Admirals last season, scored his first two Whale goals in the third period to wipe out a 4-2 Whale deficit, and Matt Gilroy also had his first two AHL goals for Connecticut. Jay Rosehill and Peter Holland also scored for Norfolk, and defenseman Sami Vatanen had three assists. Kris Newbury, Mike Vernace and Kyle Jean had two assists each for the Whale.
Friday's game was the first of back-to-back meetings between the Whale and Admirals, who will face off again Saturday night at 7:15 PM ("The Rock" 106.9 WCCC-FM, www.wccc.com).
Elkins gave Norfolk the game's first lead on the first shot of the night, only 1:02 in. Elkins poked the puck away from Gilroy in the Whale zone and moved down the right-wing side before snapping a shot past the stick side of Connecticut goaltender Jason Missiaen (24 saves).
Gilroy got that goal back for the Whale on a power play only 1:53 later, Connecticut's sixth power-play score in 14 opportunities on the year. Chad Kolarik worked the puck back to Gilroy at the right point, and Gilroy's slap shot went off of Norfolk netminder Igor Bobkov's catching glove and into the net.
Elkins put the Admirals back in front in a four-on-four situation at 9:47, after Vatanen forechecked the puck away from the Whale's Marek Hrivik. Stationed at the top of the right circle, Vatanen sent a cross-slot feed to Elkins, who flipped a backhander just under the crossbar behind Missiaen.
Gilroy struck again, with another Whale power-play goal, to tie the game back up at 9:13 of the second. Jean hit Gilroy with a pass at the top of the circles, and Gilroy's hard snapshot beat Bobkov (26 saves) to the stick side.
Norfolk replied with a couple of quick goals shortly thereafter, though, starting at 12:02, when Rosehill scored his first of the year. Linemate Chris Wagner corralled the puck behind the Whale net and found Rosehill between the hash marks with a pass, and Rosehill quickly put it past Missiaen for a 3-2 Admiral lead.
Holland then made it a two-goal advantage at 14:16, with a Norfolk power-play score. With Micheal Haley off for kneeing, Vatanen made another good play to hold the puck in near the blue line, feeding to Kyle Palmieri, who found Holland for a forehand shot into the top shelf.
Segal then got an early one for the Whale in the third, cutting the lead to 4-3 at 4:03. J.T. Miller had a try blocked, but the puck caromed to Segal at the right side of the slot, and he put a high shot past Bobkov.
The Whale remained down by one until the 18:24 mark, when Segal struck again. Jean carried the puck into the Norfolk zone and dropped it to Segal along the left-wing boards. Bobkov had traffic in front of him, and Segal's sharp-angle shot got by the Norfolk goaltender for a tie score.
The Whale outshot the Admirals 4-2 in overtime, but had trouble breaking out of their own zone with time running down, and Ryan Lasch worked the puck to Vatanen on the left side. Vatanen sent a perfect pass across the slot to a wide-open Elkins for the game-winning finish.
The Whale were returning Friday to the same rink where their playoff run ended last spring. The eventual Calder Cup-champion Admirals ousted the Whale from the postseason with a 2-1 overtime win May 11, in Game Six of the teams' Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
The Whale's next home game is Friday, October 26 against the Hershey Bears. Faceoff is 7:00 PM at the XL Center, and, as at all Friday home games this season, fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs and $2 beers until 8:00. Tickets for that game, and all Whale regular season home games at the XL Center, are on sale now at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, through TicketMaster Charge-by-Phone at 1-800-745-3000 and on-line at www.ticketmaster.com.
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