In their first playoff action in team history, the St. John’s IceCaps split the opening two games of the best-of-five quarterfinal series against the Crunch at War Memorial Arena Friday and Saturday. The IceCaps return home to close out the series, beginning Wednesday night at Mile One Centre for Game 3. Game 4 goes Friday night, while the fifth and deciding game (if necessary) is scheduled for Saturday night.
WEEK IN REVIEW:
Game 1: Friday, April 20 - St. John’s IceCaps 3 Syracuse Crunch 2 | Watch Game Highlights on JetsTV
Game 1 turned out to be a typical playoff road game, a 3-2 victory for the IceCaps that gave them a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. The Crunch came out strong in the first and continued to dominate the play in the second period, outshooting St. John’s 28-16 through two periods. However, the visitors weathered the storm, taking a 1-1 tie into the third period on Derek Meech’s point drive at 3:05 of the middle frame that opened the scoring. Mark Bell gave Syracuse a temporary lead at 10:35 of the third, but Aaron Gagnon knotted the score at two after a nice setup by Ben Maxwell from behind the net. With the score all square and overtime looming, Jason King busted in off the left wing and handcuffed Crunch goalie Iiro Tarkki with a shot off the netminder’s glove that ended up across the goal line for the game-winning goal. Eddie Pasquale was sensational for St. John’s, stopping 35 shots for his first playoff win in his first career postseason start.
Game 2: Saturday, April 21 - Syracuse Crunch 4 St. John’s IceCaps 3 | Watch Game Highlights on JetsTV
Despite a promising start, the IceCaps fell victim to a series of unfortunate bounces in a 4-3 Game 2 loss. Aaron Gagnon netted his second of the series just 41 seconds after the opening faceoff to give the club an early 1-0 advantage, but Mark Bell also scored his second goal at 11:03 to tie things up at one after 20 minutes. Syracuse scored consecutive goals in the second to take a 3-1 lead, but Patrice Cormier converted on a one-timer from the high slot just minutes later to narrow the gap to 3-2. In the third, Gagnon found the twine once again, this time on a St. John’s power play, to even the score at three just 46 seconds into the period. After some back-and-forth action, the Crunch got a lucky bounce on a power play of their own when Kyle Palmieri centered the puck off Brandon McMillan’s skate and past Eddie Pasquale for the eventual game-winner. Pasquale was once again busy, facing 40 Syracuse shots in the loss.
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- The Michelin Man: G Eddie Pasquale was the recipient of a barrage of rubber in Games 1 and 2 this weekend. The All-Rookie netminder faced 77 shots in the two games, including a season-high 40 in Game 2. Syracuse finished the regular season fourth in shots per game at 32.87, just ahead of the IceCaps’ 32.46 mark.
- Quick off the draw: Saturday’s contest featured goals within the first minute of all three periods. Aaron Gagnon scored at the 41 second mark of the first period and added his second of the game just 46 seconds into the third. Syracuse’s Mat Clark notched a goal 41 seconds into the middle frame.
- Tight games: Both games to begin the IceCaps-Crunch series were decided by one goal, continuing a trend of close games between the two teams. In the regular season, St. John’s and Syracuse played four times, with two games decided by a single marker. The other two contests were two-goal affairs but included empty-net tallies.
- Scheifele added: Jets 2011 first round draft pick Mark Scheifele was added to the roster Thursday for the playoff run. The Kitchener native recently finished his season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL, recording 63 points (23G, 40A) in 47 games and added 12 points (5G, 7A) in 13 postseason contests.