The ice at Norfolk Scope Arena saw NHL players skating on it for the first time since 1999 on Friday night as the “Tampa Bay Lightning” topped the “Norfolk Admirals” 5-4. Both squads were comprised of a mix of NHL and AHL players with tryout players on both teams.
The “Admirals” took a 1-0 lead 2:03 into the game. Brett McLean, who led the 2002-03 Admirals in scoring and is currently trying out for a job with Tampa Bay, found his own rebound in the low slot and shot it through the legs of “Lightning” goaltender Dustin Tokarski.
The Lightning tied it up thirty seconds later. Juraj Simek took a shot from the right half wall that glanced off the pads of Admirals goaltender Riku Helenius and back into the right circle. Admirals free agent tryout Tommy Goebel bagged the goal at 2:33.
Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead at 11:15 of the opening frame off a strange play. A Steven Stamkos pass was intercepted in the slot by the Admirals but quickly ended back up on the Lightning blade of David Hale. The puck hopped of Hale’s stick in the low slot and bounced between the legs of an unsuspecting Helenius.
The lead lasted just over two minutes, however, as Mitch Fadden knotted the score for the Admirals. Ryan Craig centered the puck from behind the net into the low slot where Fadden, who will be making his pro debut this season, one-timed it past Tokarski at 13:49.
The Lightning re-claimed the lead midway through the second stanza. 2008-09 Admirals captain Zenon Konopka broke in alone on Admirals netminder Jaroslav Janus and roofed a shot under the crossbar at 10:26.
The teams then exchanged two goals apiece in under a three-minute span midway through the third period. The spree began when Admirals player Paul Szczechura sent a backhand pass from behind the net to Adam Hall in the left circle. Hall sent a slap shot past the left leg of Helenius to knot the score at 3-3.
Tampa Bay went back up just 32 seconds later as Simek redirected a Matt Walker blast from the left point past Janus at 10:57.
A strange play allowed the Lightning to take a two-goal lead just 19 seconds later. Simek sent a shot that caromed off the end boards in the left corner, back through the goaltender Janus’ legs into the slot and onto the blade of rookie James Wright. Wright sent a quick shot past Janus at 11:16 for the eventual game-winner.
Norfolk closed the gap at 13:10 of the final frame as Steve Downie found the rebound of a Stephane Veilleux shot and banged it into the net at the right post.
However, the “Admirals” could not find the equalizer as the “Lightning” claimed the 5-4 win.
Riku Helenius played one period each for the “Lightning” and the “Admirals,” earning the victory by way of his 17-save third period for Tampa Bay. Helenius also stopped three shots for Norfolk in the first period. Jaroslav Janus was saddled with the loss with 14 saves through the second and third period for Norfolk. Dustin Tokarski played the first two periods for the Lightning and stopped 19 pucks without receiving a decision.
“Norfolk” and “Tampa Bay” were both 0-2 on the power play.
The Admirals head to Hershey for a 5:00 tilt at the Giant Center on Sunday Evening. They then return home to prepare for the regular season opener, which is back in Hershey on Saturday, October 3.
The Admirals open the home portion of their season on Friday and Saturday, October 9 and 10, against the Manchester Monarchs. Friday night is Military Appreciation Night with $9 tickets for individuals and $8 tickets for groups with valid ID. For complete details, please visit norfolkadmirals.com.
Don’t miss a minute of the action by purchasing your 2009-10 season tickets today. Stop by the Admirals’ Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime!