GAME PREVIEW: Jackals Look to Salvage Trip to Norfolk

Game 58: Elmira Jackals (11-38-7-1) vs. Norfolk Admirals (21-30-4-0)

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

The Jackals conclude the two-game road trip to Virginia and wrap up the first half of back-to-back weekend sets against the Norfolk Admirals tonight at the Norfolk Scope. They play again in Elmira next Thursday and Friday. The teams have played six times this season, with Norfolk winning four and the Jackals winning two. The Admirals have won all three games in Norfolk.

After a sensational January, the Admirals have leveled off in February, but are 6-4-0-0 in their last 10 games to get to 21-30-4-0 on the season. At 46 points, Norfolk is in seventh place in the South Division. They are four points behind Atlanta in the division standings.

The Jackals continued to struggle on the road in last night's 5-2 loss to the Admirals and Elmira is now 11-38-7-1 on the season. With 30 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.      

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Last time out
 

The Norfolk Admirals scored three goals in the first period and used that opening 20 minutes to sail past the Jackals, 5-2, last night at the Norfolk Scope.

The Admirals three-goal first period barrage began at 11:20 on a shorthanded goal from Paul Rodrigues on a wrister from the circle. Jack Lewis doubled the lead at 14:14 with a wraparound goal and then T.J. Foster made it 3-0 at 17:51, scoring on a breakaway.

The Jackals regrouped in the second period and got within one after 40 minutes. Sam Povorozniouk snapped home his 15th goal of the season with a power-play goal at 10:25 of the second. Less than two minutes later, Kenton Miller scored his 21st on a rebound in the crease to make it 3-2. The Jackals ran out of steam in the third and the Admirals got goals from John Dunbar at 6:30 and Ben Betker at 11:11 to come out with a 5-2 decision.

Road woes

With their loss in Norfolk last night, the Jackals road winless streak hit 12 games (0-10-1-1), which is the longest streak in the ECHL this season, breaking a tie with the Indy Fuel, who went winless in 11 road games Nov. 25-Jan. 8. The last Jackals road win came Jan. 20 in Manchester, a 5-4 overtime victory.

In 32 road games this season, the most in the ECHL, the Jackals are a league-worst 3-24-4-1. Neither their offense or defense has translated well away from First Arena. They have given up 132 goals, 4.13 goals against per game, and scored just 54 goals, or 1.69 goals per game. They have a -78 goal differential on the road.

Their three road wins came in Adirondack (Oct. 25 in a shootout), in Florida (Dec. 10) and in Manchester (Jan. 20 in overtime). Their only regulation win on the road was that victory against the Everblades.

Debuts

The Jackals have had two players make their professional debuts this week while skating on amateur tryouts (ATOs).

Forward Robert Lepine, 24, just completed his career at the University of Guelph by leading the team with 15 goals and adding 31 points. In his three-year career at Guelph, the Pembroke, Ontario native finished with 48 points 59 games. He made his Jackals and professional debut Wednesday against the Manchester Monarchs and then skated again last night. He has yet to record his first pro point.

Goalie Greg Dodds, 24, wrapped up four years at the University of Western Ontario by appearing in 20 games this season. During his career, Dodds finished with a record of 37-26-0 with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage, including three shutouts. He made his professional debut last night against the Admirals and allowed five goals on 28 shots while taking the loss.

Head-to-head

Tonight is the seventh of nine head-to-head matches between the Jackals and Admirals in 2016-17. After sweeping two games in Norfolk to open 2017 and winning again last night, the Admirals lead the series 4-2. Including last night, the teams meet four times over eight days, with two at First Arena next Thursday and Friday.

Paul Rodrigues (2g, 4a) scored a shorthanded goal last night and now leads the Admirals with six points in the six games against the Jackals. For Elmira, Kyle Rankin is the top scorer against Norfolk, also potting six points (1g, 5a) in the six game series. He's also a team-high +2 in the series, tied with Mark Bennett. 

In net, Brandon Anderson has started three games against the Jackals and is 2-1-0 with a 2.67 goals-against average and a.914 save percentage with one shutout. Philippe Desrosiers started last night and gave up two goals on 24 shots to pick up the win. Andy Iles has four starts against Norfolk and is 1-3-0 with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.


Scouting the Admirals

The Admirals have six wins over their last 10 games (6-4-0-0) to move to 21-30-4-0 on the season. At 46 points, Norfolk has closed the gap to four points behind Atlanta, but remain in seventh place in the South Division. Norfolk hits the road for a match in Reading tomorrow afternoon to finish a three-in-three weekend before traveling to Elmira for games Thursday and Friday.

The Admirals, who were in the cellar offensively the first few months of the season, have risen to 22nd in the league with 2.87 goals per game. T.J. Foster, acquired from Orlando, has helped boost their offense with 34 points (15g, 19a) in 33 games with Norfolk. Overall he has 39 points (17g, 22a) in 45 games between the Admirals and Solar Bears. John Dunbar is second with 33 points (15g, 18a) in 45 games. 

Brandon Anderson and Philippe Desrosiers are Norfolk's two goalies entering the week. Anderson is 11-8-0 with a 3.59 goals-against average and an .887 save percentage. He has three shutouts, which came in three straight games at the beginning of 2017, including one over Elmira. Desrosiers has played in eight games with Norfolk and is 5-2-0 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. Mix in his 13 appearances with Idaho and he is 10-5-0-2 with a 3.43 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.


Special teams

Norfolk's power play has been on a steady incline since the turn of the calendar and they are now up to 20th in the ECHL at 15.3%, scoring on 28-of-183 power plays. They are 17th in the league on home ice, striking at a 17.0% clip.

The Jackals went 1-for-5 on the power play last night, moving to 29-for-188 (15.4%) on the season, ranking 18th in the ECHL. They are 4-for-24 (16.7%) against the Admirals this season.

The Admirals penalty kill ranks 22nd in the ECHL at 80.4%, giving up 41 power-play goals. They haven't been as good at home, where they are stopping just 78.8% of opposition power plays. 

The Jackals were 6-for-7 on the penalty kill last night, snapping a run of 15-for-15 over the previous four games, which was their best stretch since late December. They are now 21st in the ECHL at 80.8% on the kill this season.