CEDAR PARK, TX – Buoyed by a superlative performance by Michael Hutchinson, the St. John’s IceCaps slipped past the Texas Stars 2-1 in Game 2 Monday night at Cedar Park Center. The win sends the IceCaps back home to St. John’s for Games 3, 4 and 5 with a split of the first two games in Texas.
Hutchinson stonewalled the Stars’ comeback bid in the third period, making 20 saves – many of the highlight-reel variety – to earn his 12th victory of the postseason. The Barrie, Ontario native stopped 49 shots in total, setting a new IceCaps playoff record.
Blair Riley scored the eventual game-winner and Kael Mouillierat had the other tally for St. John’s. Cristopher Nilstorp was sharp for the Stars, making 33 saves on 35 shots, while Brendan Ranford had the lone Texas marker.
After weathering a Stars’ storm in the opening few minutes, the IceCaps got on the board on their second shot on goal. Zach Redmond made a nice feed through the middle of the ice to a streaking Eric O’Dell, who gained the zone and fired a shot that trickled through Nilstorp. Mouillierat was there to stuff home the loose puck and put the IceCaps on top 1-0.
Just 29 seconds into the second period, the Stars tied things up. Travis Morin’s shot was partially deflected and the puck found the stick of Ranford at the side of the goal. The rookie whacked in his eighth of the playoffs past a helpless Hutchinson to make it a 1-1 game.
Just 44 seconds later, the IceCaps retook the lead on Riley’s second goal of the postseason. Kyle MacKinnon picked up the puck behind the Stars net and sent a beautiful tape-to-tape pass in the slot to Riley, who one-timed it past Nilstorp on the blocker side for a 2-1 IceCaps lead.
The third period was all Stars but Hutchinson came up huge time after time, including several lunging goalmouth saves to help the IceCaps come out of Texas with a split.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven Calder Cup Finals goes Wednesday night at Mile One Centre in St. John’s (7:30 PM NDT/6:00 PM EDT). Catch all the action with broadcaster Brian Rogers on Rogers TV, Eastlink TV and www.ahllive.com, or listen at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and 930 AM. Pregame show gets underway 30 minutes before puck drop.
Notes: Scratched for St. John’s: Kris Fredheim, Ryan Olsen, Cody Lampl, JC Lipon, Ryan Schnell, Julian Melchiori, Brandon MacLean, Austen Brassard, Jussi Olkinuora, Eddie Pasquale… The IceCaps went 0-for-1 on the power play and did not take a single penalty… Will O’Neill’s five-game point streak and three-game goal streak were halted… Molson Canadian Three Stars: 1. Michael Hutchinson 2. Cristopher Nilstorp 3. Blair Riley… Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player: Jason Jaffray.