Eric Wellwood had an impressive game and notched his second goal of the year. And Brayden Schenn would score the game-winner in the third period for his team-leading 12th of the season.
Several four-legged friends were in attendance on the annual Pucks and Paws promotion to watch the Phantoms race out to a powerful start and almost put the game away early with their 18-shot opening-period effort on St. John's goalie Eddie Pasquale. A few dozen dogs (also joined by one cat) barked their approval for the consistent Adirondack push into the IceCaps zone. And then they howled with delight at the final result.
Part of that early spark also came from Zack FitzGerald who got involved in an early fight with St. John's tough-guy Ryan Schnell with both heavyweights blasting away with significant shots at each other. It was less than a minute after that bout that Adirondack would officially draw first blood.
For this contest, if you were healthy then you played. The Phantoms were without Shane Harper and Zac Rinaldo who both missed the game with flu-like symptoms and joined the ranks of other injured players on the sidelines.
Adirondack opened the scoring in the first period on the power play as Sean Couturier would retrieve his own blocked shot and slip the puck over to Danny Syvret to find Manning open in the left-circle. "Man-Dog" hung onto the puck for a tick and then wristed his third of the season past Pasquale to give the Phantoms the 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
But it was almost much more than that as Adirondack had an impressive barrage of opportunities and continued pressure in the St. John's zone. The Eddie Pasquale Show and his terrific saves were the only thing preventing the Phantoms from building on that lead in the opening 20 minutes.
"We want to emphasize our first period and the way we come out and play," Manning said. "I think it made a big difference for us tonight. We were able to be up all night besides some points where we were tied. Our confidence has been fragile this year. It helps when you're able to do that.
Spencer Machacek notched his seventh of the season for the IceCaps early in the second period when he slammed home a one-timer on a power-play cross-ice feed.
But Adirondack quickly regained the lead with Jeff Dimmen finding an open Sean Couturier up the right-wing who nicely dished to the middle for Eric Wellwood's perfect shot over the glove of Pasquale. Wellwood's second of the year gave the Phantoms a 2-1 lead and it was just one of several quality chances he would generate in the game.
"I was happy to see that with Wellwood because I thought the last game the other night was his best of the year," Phantoms head coach Terry Murray said. "Tonight he got off to a good start again on the line with Couts. He's handling the puck, moving his feet, carrying the puck and that's something that was missing in the early part of the season. But to finally be able to score a really nice goal, a pretty goal, in a strong play at the net....I was happy for him. It was well-deserved."
Eric's older brother, Kyle Wellwood, was a standout for St. John's when they were the Maple Leafs in 2004-05 during the last NHL lockout.
Zach Redmond tied the score at 2-2 late in the second period on a shot appearing to come from behind the goal-line off the back of Adirondack goalie Scott Munroe.
The 2-2 tie continued into the third period but Brayden Schenn found a free puck and raced up the left-wing to snap home his 12th goal of the season for the eventual game-winner.
"They didn't make a huge push all night. Maybe the last five minutes and that happens when you're up a goal," Manning said. "You know, it could be the turning point for us. We've played so many close games, so many one-goal games. And these are the ones we need to win."
Sean Couturier scored into the empty-net in the closing moments of the game but the buzzer sounded just an instant before his shot crossed the goal-line so Adirondack would have to settle for a 3-2 victory instead of a 4-2 final.
The Phantoms out-shot the IceCaps 34-25. Adirondack went 1-for-6 on the power play while St. John's was 1-for-4.
Adirondack closes out play before the holiday break with a quick weekend road-trip to Syracuse on Friday night and then to Bridgeport on Saturday. The players then get a few days off to spend with family and friends over the AHL Holiday Break. The Phantoms return home on Friday, December 28 against the Providence Bruins and then have the traditional New Year's Eve game on Monday, December 31 at 3:00 against Bridgeport featuring specialty Orange Tuxedo jerseys that will be available to the fans via post-game live auction.
St. John's IceCaps 2 at Adirondack Phantoms 3
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - Glens Falls Civic Center
St. John's 0 2 0 - 2
Adirondack 1 1 1 - 3
1st Period-1, Adirondack, Manning 3 (Syvret, Couturier), 6:25 (PP). Penalties-Lauridsen Adk (slashing), 2:10; Schnell Stj (fighting), 4:24; FitzGerald Adk (fighting), 4:24; Meech Stj (interference), 5:17; Schnell Stj (high-sticking), 11:20; Gagnon Stj (slashing), 17:09.
2nd Period-2, St. John's, Machacek 7 (Meech, Mouillierat), 7:18 (PP). 3, Adirondack, Wellwood 2 (Dimmen, Couturier), 10:56. 4, St. John's, Redmond 8 (Jaffray, Mouillierat), 16:21. Penalties-Roe Adk (hooking), 5:35; Ford Adk (slashing), 7:18; Mouillierat Stj (hooking), 14:07.
3rd Period-5, Adirondack, Schenn 12 5:16. Penalties-Jaffray Stj (slashing), 9:11; Konan Adk (holding), 12:17; Mouillierat Stj (high-sticking), 13:54.
Shots on Goal-St. John's 9-10-6-25. Adirondack 18-7-9-34.
Power Play Opportunities-St. John's 1 / 4; Adirondack 1 / 6.
Goalies-St. John's, Pasquale 7-9-1 (34 shots-31 saves). Adirondack, Munroe 8-7-0 (25 shots-23 saves).
Referees-Terry Koharski (10), Geoff Miller (28).
Linesmen-Mike Emanatian (69), Steeve Lemay (64).