ST. JOHN’S, NL — Tom Kostopoulos scored the game-winner and Peter Mannino made 31 saves, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins edged the St. John’s IceCaps 3-2 Saturday night at Mile One Centre to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final series.
Chuck Kobasew and Conor Sheary also scored for the Penguins. Andrew Gordon notched both of the IceCaps’ goals, while Michael Hutchinson turned aside 29 in a losing effort.
The Penguins opened the scoring 7:02 into the first period on a goal from Kobasew. Breaking in on the 2-on-1 rush, Brian Gibbons fed a cross-ice pass to Kobasew in front, who then made no mistake in redirecting it into the open net to put Wilkes-Barre/Scranton up 1-0.
Gordon, scoring his seventh of the playoffs, potted the equalizer for the IceCaps at 13:42. Picking up the puck from Kyle MacKinnon behind the Penguins’ goal, Gordon made a quick move to pull it out in front and sneak it by Mannino stick side to make it 1-1.
In the second period, Sheary waltzed into the IceCaps’ zone and fired a shot that Hutchinson made the initial save on, before it trickled into the crease. Sheary then followed up on the loose biscuit, tapping it past Hutchinson to restore the Penguins’ lead at 2:32.
Kostopoulos gave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a two-goal cushion at 14:36, when he took a cross-ice feed from Spencer Machacek on the rush before wristing it past Hutchinson blocker side.
Gordon drew St. John’s within one 5:31 into the final frame, picking up his second tally of the game. With the two clubs playing 4-on-4, John Albert won the draw clean and dished it back to Gordon in the high slot, who snapped it past Mannino to make it 3-2.
With Hutchinson pulled for the extra man in the final minute, the IceCaps pushed hard for the equalizer but couldn’t solve Mannino, who made 31 saves in total.
St. John’s looks to even up the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final series in Game 2, which goes Sunday night (7:30 PM NT) at Mile One Centre. Catch all the action with broadcaster Brian Rogers on Rogers TV, Eastlink TV and AHL Live, or listen at www.stjohnsicecaps.com or 930AM. Pregame show gets underway at 7:00.
Notes: Not dressed for St. John’s: Ryan Olsen, Jordan Hill, Cody Lampl, Ryan Schnell, Josh Lunden, Julian Melchiori, Brandon MacLean, Austen Brassard, Jussi Olkinuora, Eddie Pasquale… Gordon now has three goals in his last two games… The IceCaps went 0-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill… St. John’s outshot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 33-32… Molson Canadian Three Stars: 1. Tom Kostopoulos 2. Andrew Gordon 3. Brian Gibbons… Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player: Brenden Kichton.