WILKES-BARRE, PA – The St. John’s IceCaps moved one step closer to their first Calder Cup Finals appearance with a 2-1 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Mohegan Sun Arena Thursday night.
Josh Lunden scored the game-winner midway through the third while Michael Hutchinson faced just 18 shots, making 17 saves in the victory.
Will O’Neill had a goal and an assist for the IceCaps, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 and can clinch a berth in the Calder Cup Finals with a win in Game 5 Saturday night.
After nearly 40 minutes of scoreless hockey, the IceCaps broke the deadlock on a 5-on-3 power play with just 27 seconds left in the second frame. Following a Jason Megna hooking minor and a Zach Sill double-minor for a high-stick on Andrew Gordon that left him bleeding, Will O’Neill teed up a one-timer pass from Gordon and snuck it through Peter Mannino to give St. John’s a 1-0 lead heading into the third. The IceCaps outshot the Penguins 19-2 in the middle stanza.
The Penguins tied it up at 6:49 on an unfortunate bounce. Brian Dumoulin’s shot from the point was headed wide but it caromed off the leg of Brenden Kichton and straight into the net past Hutchinson to even the score at 1-1.
Just minutes later on another IceCaps power play, St. John’s jumped back on top. Lunden picked up the puck down low and circled the net, stuffing the puck past Mannino for the go-ahead goal at 9:19.
The IceCaps hung on down the stretch to put the Penguins on the brink of elimination.
Game 5 is set for Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena (8:35 p.m. NT). Catch all the action with broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and 930 AM, or watch online at www.ahllive.com. Pregame show gets underway at 8:00.
NOTES: Not dressed for the IceCaps: Josh Morrissey, Jerome Samson, Ryan Olsen, Cody Lampl, Julian Melchiori, Ryan Schnell, Brandon MacLean, Austen Brassard, Eddie Pasquale, Jussi Olkinuora… The IceCaps outshot the Penguins 31-18… St. John’s went 2-for-9 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill. They have not allowed a power play goal on 20 chances in the series… St. John’s has scored two power play goals in back-to-back games… Andrew Gordon has four assists in his last two games and eight points (3G, 5A) in his last five games… Will O’Neill has a three-game points streak (1G, 3A)… Molson Canadian Three Stars: 1. Josh Lunden 2. Peter Mannino 3. Michael Hutchinson… Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player: Kyle MacKinnon.