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Admirals lose Game 4 at Scope as Adirondack ties ECHL playoff series

NORFOLK — Home ice has been unfriendly to both teams in the North Division finals of the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs.

Ryan Smith scored with less than five minutes remaining in the second period to power the Adirondack Thunder to a 5-2 win over the Norfolk Admirals at Scope and tie the series at two games apiece.

The Admirals, who had won the series’ first two games at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, New York, had just leveled the score at 2 just 75 seconds prior.

“It’s deflating,” Admirals coach Jeff Carr said. “The puck bounced in the slot; I feel bad for (Carson) Golder. He tried to clear it out, it bounced over his stick and they capitalized.”

Andre Ghantous gave Adirondack a 1-0 lead midway through the first period by snapping a shot past netminder Oskari Salminen, who rejoined the Admirals on Monday from the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League. It was just the second playoff appearance for Salminen, who recorded a Game 1 victory in the North Division semifinals against Trois-Rivières on April 17.

Smith, who also had the winning goal in overtime Wednesday, knocked in his first goal of the night five minutes before the first intermission to extend the lead to 2-0.

A little less than four minutes after the break, Admirals captain Mathieu Roy smashed in a goal on a power-play opportunity to cut the deficit to 2-1. With the period winding down, Brady Fleurent poke-checked the puck away from an Adirondack defender in the neutral zone. Carson Musser collected the loose puck and found Stepan Timofeyev, who fired in the equalizer at the 5:35 mark.

Then came Smith’s goal — his second of the game — off of a missed clearance, which quieted the crowd of 6,007 and sparked a run of unanswered goals for Adirondack.

Norfolk Admirals goalie Oskari Salminen stretches out to make a save Friday at Scope during Adirondack’s series-tying 5-2 triumph. MIKE CAUDILL/FREELANCE

Early in the third period, the Admirals couldn’t capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play. They were moving the puck around well in the offensive zone but were unable to find that last unlocking shot on target.

“A lot of great chances and looks,” Carr said. “We liked the setup and we liked who we had on the ice — we just didn’t get the result that we wanted. That’s been the M.O. over the last two games.”

Shane Harper and Ryan Wheeler added a goal apiece for the final margin.

Game 5 is at 7:05 Saturday night at Scope. Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7 will be back in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We’ve got to come out and play better at the start,” Carr said. “We’ve got to inject a little more life in our lineup, take the body
and play a little harder.”

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