Norfolk’s offense awakens, ties series

( — The Norfolk Admirals scored three unanswered goals after giving up two, and beat the Manchester Monarchs, 3-2, in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal on Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

The teams’ best-of-five series is now tied, 1-1, with the last three games scheduled for Norfolk’s Scope Arena.

The Admirals’ John Gibson (1-1) was sensational in a 32-save performance for his first professional playoff victory. After a shutout on Friday, Jean-Francois Berube (1-1) suffered the loss while saving 24 of 27 shots.

As they did in Game 1, Manchester struck first when the Admirals couldn’t corral a bouncing puck in the slot. Monarchs rookie Nic Dowd stood between the circles and snapped the loose puck into the top shelf over Gibson’s left shoulder for a 1-0 Manchester lead at 16:34. It was Dowd’s first career professional goal.

Just over a minute later, the hole deepened when Zach O’Brien scored his second goal of the series. O’Brien circled around the net towards the far dot before turning and firing a shot off Gibson’s right side and into the net at 17:51.

After being shut out for more than four periods to start the series, Norfolk’s offense awakened and tied the game. William Karlsson drew a tripping penalty and Max Friberg took advantage on the pwoer play when he rifled home a rebound for Norfolk’s first goal at 7:54 of the second.

Former Monarch Dave Steckel tied the game for the Admirals when he got a stick on a puck sent to the Manchester net by Steve Eminger at 11:56 of the period.

Two of the newest Admirals hooked up to give Norfolk its first lead of the series in the third period. Nic Kerdiles crossed the blue line and hit Karlsson on the move toward the Monarchs net; Karlsson wristed a shot to Berube’s left side that ricocheted off his glove into the net at 11:17.

Gibson came up with big saves on open shooters in the final minutes and the Admirals held on to win.

Game 3 is scheduled for Wednesday night.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “A” (best-of-5)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 8-Norfolk Admirals
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – MANCHESTER 2, Norfolk 0
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – Norfolk 3, MANCHESTER 2
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 30 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:15
Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:30
*Game 5 – Sat., May 3 – Manchester at Norfolk, 7:15
   *if necessary… All times Eastern