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The St. John’s IceCaps hope to get it done on home ice and move on to the Calder Cup Final as they prepare to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins back at Mile One Centre for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.
LAST GAME: The IceCaps held a slim lead going into the third and final period but were unable to hang on as the Penguins clawed back with three third period goals to win Game 6, 4-2 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Will O’Neill struck first for St. John’s on the power play, firing a shot behind Penguins starter Peter Mannino at 12:27 of the opening frame.
The pesky Penguins fired back early in the second period as former IceCap Spencer Machacek picked up his first goal of the playoffs just 3:27 into the period.
The IceCaps surged ahead as Patrice Cormier deflected home his second goal of the playoffs with just under six minutes remaining in the second period to give the IceCaps a one-goal lead heading into the final frame.
The Penguins drew even at 12:30 of the third as Chuck Kobasew took a perfect goalmouth pass from Andrew Ebbett and beat IceCaps goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
As the teams mentally prepared for overtime, the Penguins took control for good as Zach Sill fired a shot that hit the post and Hutchinson’s arm before tumbling over the line with 16 seconds remaining. Kobasew added an empty netter to seal the victory for the Penguins. Mannino earned the victory with his 19- save performance, while Hutchinson made 30 saves and settled for the loss.
NOTES FROM LAST GAME: 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… Will O’Neill has six points in his last four games (2G, 4A) and two straight multi-point efforts… Andrew Gordon has six assists in his last three games… Molson Canadian Three Stars: 1. Zach Sill 2. Chuck Kobasew 3. Spencer Machacek… Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player: Will O’Neill.
OH NO, O’NEILL!: The IceCaps will be without the services of defenceman Will O’Neill for Tuesday’s Game 6 as he took a match penalty for cross checking after Chuck Kobasew’s empty net goal with seven seconds left in Game 5. According to Rule 21 of the AHL Rule Book, all match penalties “shall be investigated promptly by the president who shall have full power to impose such further penalty by way of suspension or fine on the penalized player or any other player involved in the altercation.” The AHL announced his one-game suspension late Monday afternoon. O’Neill has been red-hot of late with six points in his last four games and has two straight multi-point outings.
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER: After posting two assists in Game 5’s loss to the Penguins, the IceCaps’ Andrew Gordon now leads all skaters in the American Hockey League in scoring, amassing 16 points (8G, 8A) in 15 games.
STILL SCORING FIRST: With the opening goal in the Game 5 loss, the IceCaps have now recorded the first goal of the game in all but two of their 15 playoff contests this year and have won 10 of those 13 games.
NO MORE FOUR: The Penguins erupted for three goals in the third period of Game 5, giving them four goals on the evening. This marked only the second time the IceCaps have allowed more than three goals in a game in 15 playoff contests. The first occurred in Game 2 of the team’s opening series against the Albany Devils on April 26.
VERY SPECIAL TEAMS: After limping into the Eastern Conference Final struggling on the power play, the IceCaps seem to have awakened with the man advantage and have now scored a pair of power play goals in each of their last three games. The IceCaps penalty kill has been excellent thus far this series and has not yet allowed a single goal through five games (27-for-27).
HEAD-TO-HEAD LEADERS (2014 Regular Season)
St. John’s: Andrew Gordon (5GP, 2-6-8) | Will O’Neill (5GP, 2-4-6) | Michael Hutchinson (3-2-0, 1.61 GAA, .941 save %)
W-B/Scranton: Simon Despres (5GP, 0-4-4) | Chuck Kobasew (2GP, 3-0-3) | Peter Mannino (2-3-0, 2.81 GAA, .906 save %)