GAME PREVIEW: Jackals Look for Bounce Back in Norfolk

Game 31: Elmira Jackals (7-18-5-0) vs. Norfolk Admirals (8-20-4-0)

7:15 p.m., Norfolk Scope Arena, Norfolk, Virginia

The Jackals finish off this two-game trip to snowy Virginia with the second straight game against the Norfolk Admirals at the Norfolk Scope. After the Admirals won, 4-1, last night over the Jackals the season series stands a 2-2, with five more matches to come, including tonight's meeting.

The Admirals have opened up 2017 with back-to-back home wins, a 4-2 win over the Adirondack Thunder Wednesday and last night's 4-1 triumph over Elmira. That has pushed their record to 8-20-4-0, giving them 20 points, which puts them in seventh place in the South Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference.

The Jackals have lost back-to-back games, closing out 2016 with a 5-2 loss in Wheeling on New Year's Eve and opening 2017 with last night's loss to the Ads. With 19 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference. Elmira is in the middle of a stretch of four consecutive road games, which wraps up Tuesday in Adirondack.   
   

Broadcast Coverage

Jackals Pregame at 7:00 p.m. Radio: 1410 WELM TV: WETM-2

  
Last time out

The Norfolk Admirals scored the final four goals, including three in the third period, to knock off the Jackals, 4-1, in a penalty filled affair Friday at the Norfolk Scope.

The parade to the penalty box started in the first period, with both teams getting three power plays. The Admirals were shut down on their man advantages, but the Jackals converted late in their first one, when Steven Kaunisto wristed a shot from the left point through traffic for a 1-0 lead at 12:26. In the second period the Jackals were shorthanded five times, including two 5-on-3 advantages, and the Ads used those opportunities to take control of the game and tie the score on a slap shot from Frankie Simonelli at 13:31.

With the score tied at three entering the third, the Admirals pulled ahead midway through the final frame when Jaedon Descheneau got the puck at the left circle, then out-waited Andy Iles before tapping the puck into an open net at 9:28. Later in the period Nick MacNeil scored a shorthanded goal to give Norfolk a 3-1 lead and the Admirals iced it with an empty-net goal at 18:18. 

Parade to the penalty box

The Jackals, who entered last night's game as the least penalized team in the ECHL at 10.48 penalty minutes per game, faced a season-high eight power plays. They gave up three power plays in the first period and then faced five in the second period, including a pair of 5-on-3 chances, when the Ads flipped the momentum.

Prior to last night, the most power plays the Jackals faced in a game was six, which happened three times. After posting 23 penalty minutes last night, the Jackals are now the second-least penalized team in the league at 10.90 PIMs per game.

Head-to-head

Tonight is the fifth of nine head-to-head matches between the clubs in 2016-17 and the third in just over a week. It is the second of four games at the Norfolk Scope, with the Jackals returning to Norfolk in March for another two-game set.

Kyle Rankin leads all players in the series with five points (1g, 4a) in four games, including a three-point night last week. He was among four players to set career highs in last week's home match against the Admirals.

Frankie Simonelli leads the Admirals with four points in four games against Elmira. Three of his four goals this season have been scored against the Jackals, including a power-play goal last night.

In net, Andy Iles is 1-2-0 with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage against Norfolk. For the Admirals, Brandon Anderson is 1-1-0 with a 4.00 goals-against average and an .873 save percentage.

Scouting the Admirals

The Admirals have opened 2017 with two straight wins, one over the Adirondack Thunder and one over the Jackals, pushing their record to 8-20-4-0 and giving them 20 points. They leapfrogged the Jackals in the Eastern Conference standings with last night's result. After tonight, Norfolk hits the road for three straight, in Greenville for two and Atlanta for one.
 

Norfolk moved past the Jackals to 26th in the ECHL at 2.44 goals per game, although they have scored at least three goals in eight of the last nine games. Among players who have skated for Norfolk, T.J. Foster (7g, 11a) and Nick MacNeil (8g, 10a) are tied for the team lead with 18 points. Foster has 13 points in just 12 games with the Admirals.

In goal, Norfolk's two active goalies have combined for just nine games played. Brandon Anderson is 4-1-0 in six appearances with the Admirals, posting a 3.07 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage since being acquired in a trade with Reading. His only loss came Dec. 30 against Elmira, when he surrendered seven goals. Steven Summerhays, picked up in a trade from Tulsa, is 1-2-0 with a 3.71 goals-against average and an .874 save percentage in his first three games with the Admirals. 

            
Special teams

The Admirals power play ranks last in the ECHL at 8.4%, scoring a league-low nine power-play goals in 107 opportunities. They went 1-for-8 last night against the Jackals and they now have scored seven of their nine power-play goals at home, where they are 7-for-66 (10.6%).

The Jackals power play went 1-for-6 last night, giving them man-advantage goals in their last three games (3-for-14, 21.4%). Overall they are 17th in the ECHL at 16.2% (16-for-99). Their road power play ranks 22nd overall at 11.3% (7-for-62).

Norfolk's penalty kill sits at 23rd in the ECHL, stopping 79.0% of opponent's power plays. They have allowed 25 power-play goals overall, with 15 of those coming at the Norfolk Scope.

The Jackals were 7-for-8 on the penalty kill last night and they have allowed power-play goals in back-to-back games. They are now 41-for-45 (91.1%) in the last 10 games. The Jackals are ninth in the league on the penalty kill at 85.3%.