(4) ST. JOHN’S ICECAPS vs (8) NORFOLK ADMIRALS
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The St. John’s IceCaps solved Norfolk Admirals goaltender John Gibson and earned a victory in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals, tying the series at one game apiece with Game 3 set to go in Norfolk on Saturday night.
LAST GAME: Josh Morrissey’s first goal as a professional helped the IceCaps past the stingy Admirals goaltending as St. John’s held on for a 2-1 victory in Game 2 at Mile One Centre on Wednesday night.
After a scoreless opening frame, Morrissey put the IceCaps ahead with a power play goal 2:48 into the second period. Breaking in on the rush, Morrissey wristed a shot from the circle that squeaked under the arm of Admirals’ starter John Gibson for his first professional goal.
The IceCaps converted on a second-straight power play just under three minutes later, this time on a goal from Jason Jaffray. Stripping the puck free, Jaffray spun and fired it behind Gibson to extend the IceCaps’ lead to two.
Then, with less than four minutes to play in the period, Hutchinson made a sprawling glove save on Nic Kerdiles to help send the IceCaps to the dressing room with a 2-0 advantage.
Chris Wagner cut the Admirals’ deficit to one midway through the final frame on the power play, when he followed up on Dave Steckel’s shot in the crease and poked home the rebound. That’s as close as Norfolk came, however, as the IceCaps finished strong to even the series 1-1.
Michael Hutchinson once again earned first star honours with a 32-save performance while Gibson turned aside 39 saves in a losing effort.
NOTES FROM LAST GAME: Not dressed for the IceCaps: Kris Fredheim, Ryan Olsen, Cody Lampl, Ryan Schnell, Josh Lunden, Julian Melchiori, Brandon MacLean, Austen Brassard, Eric Comrie, Jussi Olkinuora, Eddie Pasquale… Michael Hutchinson drew an assist on Josh Morrissey’s second-period tally, his second of the playoffs… St. John’s has outshot Norfolk by a combined 84-59 through two games… St. John’s went 2-for-6 on the man advantage and killed off 5-of-6 shorthanded situations… Molson Canadian Three Stars: 1. Michael Hutchinson 2. John Gibson 3. Jason Jaffray… Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player: Jordan Hill.
LUCKY NUMBER THREE: The IceCaps boast a lifetime playoff record of 3-1 in Game 3’s, outscoring their opponents 8-3 in the process. Two of the four Game 3’s have gone to overtime. St. John’s defeated Albany 1-0 in Game 3 of this year’s opening round of the playoffs.
HEADING TO NORFOLK: The IceCaps have played just two games on the road to date during their 2014 Calder Cup run. In a pair of games in Albany in the opening round, the IceCaps posted a 1-1 record and were outscored 5-4 overall. The IceCaps ended the season with the third best road record in the American Hockey League, posting a .632 winning percentage away from Mile One Centre.
SHARING THE WEALTH: In the IceCaps’ four victories recorded thus far in the 2014 playoffs, four different skaters (Ben Chiarot, Kael Mouillierat, Andrew Gordon and Jason Jaffray) have notched a game-winning goal. Offensive duties have also been well-distributed through the IceCaps lineup as four of the team’s 12 playoff goals have come from defensemen.
VETERAN PRESENCE: Even without scoring a goal in Game 2, the IceCaps’ Andrew Gordon remains tied with Springfield’s Ryan Craig for the playoff goal-scoring lead with four goals through his first six playoff contests in 2014. Gordon’s five points leads the IceCaps in playoff scoring (4G, 1A) and is just two points shy of Chicago’s Dmitrij Jaskin for the league point scoring race.
MORE LIKE ‘CLUTCHINSON’: IceCaps starting goaltender Michael Hutchinson continued to shine with a 32-save performance in the IceCaps’ Game 2 victory. In five of his six playoff starts, he has allowed two or fewer goals per game. His goals-against average (1.52) and save percentage (.951) are both ranked third among goaltenders this postseason. His 173 saves made are second in the league behind only Norfolk’s John Gibson, who was recalled by the Anaheim Ducks Friday after an injury to starter Frederik Andersen.