NORFOLK, VA - 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.