It was a thrilling week-and-a-half for the St. John’s IceCaps as they took three-of-four games on home ice and advanced to the second round of the playoffs after a dramatic 4-3 overtime victory last Friday night against the Syracuse Crunch. The IceCaps then split the first two games of their Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins; the club now heads on the road for Games 3, 4 and 5 with the series tied at one.
WEEK IN REVIEW:
Eastern Conference Quarterfinal
Game 3: Wednesday, April 25 – St. John’s IceCaps 5 Syracuse Crunch 1 | Watch Game Highlights
In the first-ever playoff game at Mile One Centre, the IceCaps did not disappoint the legion of white-clad fans en route to a resounding 5-1 win over the Crunch. Patrice Cormier ignited the fans with the game’s opening goal on the power play at 11:10 of the first. After Dan Sexton tied it for Syracuse just minutes later, Derek Meech restored the lead with his second of the series to give the IceCaps a 2-1 advantage, a lead they would not relinquish. Brock Trotter, John Albert and Ben Maxwell all added their first goals of the playoffs and Eddie Pasquale was sensational in making 40 saves for the victory as St. John’s took a 2-1 series lead.
Game 4: Friday, April 27 – St. John’s IceCaps 4 Syracuse Crunch 3 (OT) | Watch Game Highlights
In front of another involved crowd at Mile One Centre, the IceCaps capped off a comeback in style with a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory to advance to the second round. Things started poorly for the home team when they fell behind 2-0 after just six minutes of play in the first. Mark Bell silenced the fans with an unexpected goal on a shot that handcuffed Pasquale, and Emerson Etem was left open in the slot on a rush just 36 seconds later. A timeout by coach Keith McCambridge seemed to settle the troops and the IceCaps skated off down two after one period. In the second, the club came out with something to prove. Carl Klingberg and John Albert scored within a 1:31 span early in the frame to knot things at two. Etem’s second of the game put the visitors up 3-2 heading into the third, but Ray Sawada’s power play marker at 6:55 once again drew the IceCaps even. The teams battled through the remainder of regulation, setting the stage for Derek Meech’s overtime heroics. Brock Trotter gained the offensive zone and sent a cross-ice pass to Meech by the boards, and the Winnipeg native wound up and blasted a shot past Iiro Tarkki for the series-clinching tally, sending the IceCaps to the second round.
Eastern Conference Semifinal
Game 1: Tuesday, May 1 – St. John’s IceCaps 3 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 1 | Watch Game Highlights
The IceCaps opened up round two in fine fashion with a solid 3-1 triumph over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. St. John’s played a strong first period, outshooting the visitors 20-4 and dominating the play, but trailed 1-0 after a power play marker by Cal O’Reilly. In the second, Brock Trotter converted on a breakaway after a beautiful flip pass by Travis Ramsey to tie the score at one heading into the third. In the final frame, Trotter notched his second breakaway goal of the night after taking a stretch pass from Paul Postma and beating Penguins netminder Brad Thiessen with a backhand move. Garth Murray added the insurance marker with his first of the playoffs after he and linemate John Albert forced Thiessen to turn the puck over with 1:54 left in regulation time.
Game 2: Wednesday, May 2 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3 St. John’s IceCaps 1 | Watch Game Highlights
It was a reversal of roles for the IceCaps and Penguins in Game 2. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton controlled the game from start-to-finish, outshooting St. John’s 38-23 for the game and skating away with a 3-1 win to even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. The Penguins got on the board first for the second straight game when Eric Tangradi knocked home a rebound midway through the opening frame. Ben Maxwell tied it with a power play goal later in the first, and the teams remained tied through two periods despite a 28-11 advantage in shots by the visitors. Early in the third, the Penguins stunned the capacity crowd with shorthanded goal off the stick of Joey Mormina after the IceCaps could not escape the aggressive forecheck of the opposition. Justin Williams’ power play blast from the point 2:20 later was the dagger, and the IceCaps could not recover.
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- Too hot to Trotter: F Brock Trotter has recorded a point in each of the IceCaps’ six postseason games. His seven points (3G, 4A) lead the club in scoring and rank him seventh overall in playoff scoring.
- Jaffray joins the team: Captain Jason Jaffray, who suffered a neck injury in a game back in late March in Norfolk, will be accompanying the team on its trip to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the first time he has rejoined his mates since undergoing season-ending surgery in mid-April.
- EDDIE, EDDIE! G Eddie Pasquale has become the new fan favourite at Mile One Centre after his stellar performances so far this postseason. Pasquale has faced a league-high 206 shots in six games, stopping 192 for a .932 save percentage. His four wins are tied for first among all goaltenders.
- Power(less) play: In six regular season and playoff meetings between the IceCaps and Penguins this season, there have been a total of six shorthanded goals scored. The Penguins scored three in a two-game series at Mile One in January while the IceCaps notched a pair in a 5-2 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on March 6. Joey Mormina’s game-winner for the Penguins in the third period of Game 2 was also scored while down a man.