In the first game of 2014, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers lost to the Norfolk Admirals Friday night, falling by a score of 3-1. After a 20-game stint with the New York Islanders, Aaron Ness returned to the Sound Tigers lineup and scored the only goal of the game for the team. Anders Nilsson made 17 saves for the Sound Tigers, who outshot Norfolk by a 24-20 margin in the contest.
The Admirals led 2-0 after the first, with both goals coming with less than three minutes to play in the opening period. Rickard Rakell scored his 10th of the season at the 17:47 mark as Norfolk broke into the Sound Tigers zone on a 2-on-1. Devante Smith-Pelly drove to the net on the left wing and centered it for Rakell, who skated to the net through the slot. Rakell batted the puck out of mid-air to beat Nilsson and give the Admirals a 1-0 lead.
Emerson Etem doubled the Admirals lead with just 4.5 seconds remaining in the first after the Sound Tigers failed to clear the puck out of their own zone. Joey Diamond had the puck, but his clearing attempt caromed off a teammate and fell right to Etem’s stick. Etem stickhandled to the net, got Nilsson to bite on a deke, and found the back of the net to make it a 2-0 game.
The Sound Tigers got on the board with the only goal of the second period, thanks to Ness’ second goal of the season. Ness took a pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard and had the puck at center point before sending a slapshot through traffic past Admirals goaltender Igor Bobkov. It appeared to change direction, but may have struck an Admiral defenseman before getting past Bobkov.
The Sound Tigers trailed by a goal late into the third period, but the Admirals fourth power-play of the night proved to be the one that gave them an insurance goal. With tic-tac-toe passing down low, the puck made its way out front to a wide-open Smith-Pelly, who beat Nilsson and made it a two-goal game once again.
The two teams return to Norfolk Scope Arena for a 7:15 p.m. contest Saturday night. The Sound Tigers return home on Jan. 11 to take on the Portland Pirates.
3rd star: Rickard Rakell (NOR)
2nd star: Emerson Etem (NOR)
1st star: Devante Smith-Pelly (NOR)
Ness is back: Dating back to before his recall by the Islanders, Aaron Ness has points in his last four Sound Tigers games.
Dropping the Gloves: Chris Bruton fought John Kurtz and Brett Gallant dropped the gloves with Zack Stortini, both in the first period.
Rotating Cast of Characters: Since Ryan Strome was recalled by the Islanders, the Sound Tigers have used four different centers between Anders Lee and Mike Halmo. Philip-Michael Devos joined Alan Quine, Riley Wetmore and Andrew Clark as those who have played center on the top line.
BRIDGEPORT SOUND TIGERS LINES
9 Anders Lee-88 Philip-Michael Devos-26 Mike Halmo
96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard-22 Alan Quine-39 Joey Diamond
23 John Persson-11Andrew Clark-17 Matt Lowry
44 Brett Gallant- 54 Chris Langkow-16 Chris Bruton
27 Aaron Ness-10 Scott Mayfield
5 Mike Keenan-4 Mike Cornell
21 Dallas Jackson-7 Scooter Vaughan
45 Anders Nilsson
35 Kenny Reiter
NORFOLK ADMIRALS LINES
16 Emerson Etem-13 Rickard Rakell-23 Devante Smith-Pelly
27 Joseph Cramarossa-21 Chris Wagner-7 Maxime Sauve
28 Antoine Laganiere-39 Dave Steckel-18 Steven Whitney
12 John Kurtz-17 Charles Sarault-26 Zack Stortini
5 Kevin Gagne-3 Nolan Yonkman
6 Garnet Exelby-8 Stefan Warg
10 Ryan Parent-20 Alex Grant
35 Igor Bobkov
36 John Gibson