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The St. John’s IceCaps earned the all-important split in the first two games of the Calder Cup Finals against the Texas Stars in Cedar Park, Texas and hope to surge ahead in the series as they prepare for Game 3 back home at Mile One Centre on Wednesday night.
LAST GAME: The IceCaps rebounded from Game 1’s loss in a big way as Michael Hutchinson recorded 49 saves to hold off the Stars 2-1 to even the Calder Cup Finals series at one game apiece.
The IceCaps got back to their old ways and opened the scoring just over four minutes into the first period as Kael Mouillierat knocked in an Eric O’Dell rebound early in the game.
St. John’s carried the lead into the second period before the Stars’ offense clicked early as Brendan Ranford scored his eighth goal of the playoffs just 29 seconds into the second.
The IceCaps responded quickly as Blair Riley snapped a perfect pass from Kyle MacKinnon behind Stars starter Cristopher Nilstorp less than a minute later to restore the IceCaps’ lead.
Hutchinson’s stellar goaltending stole the show for the remainder of the game as he weathered all 20 shots he faced in the third period to help the IceCaps even the series.
Hutchinson finished the evening with first star honours and 49 saves, while Nilstorp was solid in the Stars’ net and made 33 saves.
NOTES FROM LAST GAME: 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.
ONE FOR THE MONEY: In 18 playoff games to date, the IceCaps have managed to hold their opponents to one goal or less in ten of those contests, including three shutouts from goaltender Michael Hutchinson. Prior to Sunday’s 6-3 Game 1 loss, the IceCaps had allowed more than three goals in a game just twice this postseason.
THREE TO GET READY: The IceCaps will head back to Mile One Centre for Game 3. Thus far in the 2014 playoffs, the IceCaps are undefeated in Game 3 and have beaten their opponents (Albany, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) by a combined score of 11-3.
BIG SPLIT: The St. John’s IceCaps have earned the split on the road in Texas and if history repeats itself, the IceCaps may soon be earning more victories. The IceCaps have split the opening two games in every series thus far and have followed that with back-to-back wins each time.
BOUNCING BACK: The IceCaps have proven to be a strong team when coming off a loss. With the win in Game 2, they have not lost back-to-back games in the 2014 playoffs.
SCORING LEADERS: With an assist in Game 2, the Stars’ Travis Morin now leads the playoff scoring race with 18 points (6G, 12A). The IceCaps’ Andrew Gordon failed to record a point in Game Two and he currently sits in second place, one point behind Morin (8G, 9A).
FAST FACTS: The IceCaps have now scored first in 15-of-18 games this postseason, winning 12 times… St. John’s did not play afford Texas a power play opportunity in Game 2, the first time in 94 games this season – regular season and playoffs combined – the IceCaps were not forced to play shorthanded in a single game.
St. John’s: Kael Mouillierat (2GP, 2-0-2) | Eric O’Dell (2GP, 0-2-2) | Michael Hutchinson (1-1, 3.02 GAA, .917 SV%)
Texas: Scott Glennie (2GP, 2-1-3) | Travis Morin (2GP, 2-1-3) | Cristopher Nilstorp (1-1, 2.53 GAA, .922 SV%)