The Jacksonville Icemen’s November began with a losing skid and ended with a broken-down Zamboni.

 

So head coach Jason Christie won’t mind flipping the calendar to the next page Friday.

“It’s been tough,” Christie said. “But we’ve got to keep grinding.”

The Icemen concluded a rough November with an unwanted first, losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Norfolk Admirals Thursday night at the Veterans Memorial Arena.

Norfolk’s Grant Besse converted the only goal in the shootout, the first in Icemen history, while Jacksonville’s Jimmy Lodge, Ryan Graham and Brendan Collier were denied on all three of their attempts.

The shootout brought a frustrating end to a gritty comeback from the Icemen (4-11-1-1), who fought back from a two-goal deficit in regulation.

Jacksonville had forced overtime by tying the score at 15:59 of the third period when Elgin Pearce finished off a scramble around the net.

Whether in a shootout or regulation, it’s the team’s 10th time this month on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Somehow, the Icemen missed a string of golden opportunities to score against the Admirals’ ECHL-worst defense, which had surrendered 80 goals entering the night.

“We came out hard, then we sat back and tried to get fancy,” Christie said.

Despite heavy offensive pressure, Jacksonville struggled to find a way past Norfolk goaltender Jamie Murray as attack after attack came one missed pass, one sliced shot or one ill-timed slip from finding the net.

The high-scoring line of Pearce, Alexandre Goulet and Emerson Clark continued to combine on most of Jacksonville’s top scoring chances.

Jacksonville controlled the tempo in the early going, outshooting the Admirals 13-5 in the first period, although Norfolk came closest to scoring when captain Brodie Dupont clanked a shot off the post.

Grant Besse and John Rey put Norfolk (6-13-1-0) ahead with two second-period goals, the first off a defensive miscue.

“We played quite well up until then,” Christie said. “Then all of a sudden, you give up a 2-on-1, you give up another one, and now you’re in panic mode and you have to battle back.”

But defenseman Scott Savage, scorer of the team’s first goal on Oct. 14, brought Jacksonville back into the contest with a one-timer off assists from Everett Clark and Tyler Coulter.

Emerson Clark, coming off the first Jacksonville hat trick Tuesday against Orlando, opened the third period by poking home a rebound after a wild scramble in front of Murray’s net.

Savage and Emerson Clark each finished with a goal and an assist.

Jacksonville still has yet to put together a two-game winning streak this season.

Among other setbacks, one of the arena’s two Zambonis was out of commission - the pregame public address announcement said the machine was “on injured reserve.”

Also unavailable was Icemen captain Garet Hunt, who missed his third game in a row.

The Icemen earned one point in the standings with the shootout loss, but they remain mired at the bottom of the South Division.

Jacksonville won’t have to wait long for the next meeting with the Admirals, the second of eight scheduled this season. The teams play again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the arena.

“Not giving up those 2-on-1’s when it’s 0-0, not giving up 3-on-2’s,” Christie said. “That’s got to be a smarter game for us.”