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Lerg leads Penguins past IceCaps 6-4; controversy surrounds penalty shot

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - It was a close, high-scoring night in Newfoundland that ended in controversy.

Bryan Lerg scored twice and added an assist in the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins' 6-4 win over the St. John's IceCaps in American Hockey League play Saturday.

However, all the talk after the game was about a questionable call in the second period.

The Penguins' Ben Street, whose parents come from Newfoundland, got to thrill his family in attendance by scoring on a penalty shot awarded during an IceCaps power play.

"My heart started racing pretty good once he pointed to centre ice," said Street."I was so tired from the penalty kill. Thankfully, they argued for a while and I was able to catch my breath."

The call proved controversial, for while he was hooked on a breakaway by Jason DeSantis, Street still managed a clean shot on the play, plus a rebound attempt.

"I thought it was a bad call," said IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge admitted. "The player got a great shot away. It was a borderline penalty on the play, but not a penalty shot."

Even some of the Penguins thought it was a dicey call.

"The guys asked me if I was related to the ref," Street said with a laugh.

Brad Thiessen earned the Penguins (21-12-5) win with 23 saves on 27 shots. Captain Craig Ryan had a pair of goals, while Joey Mormina scored the winner.

Kenndal McArdle opened the scoring for St. John's (22-10-5), while Brett Festerling, Ben Maxwell and Jason Gregoire all had a goal and an assist.

Lerg scored on a short-handed rush at 11:58 of the third period. Just 30 seconds later Mormina put away the eventual winner with the Penguins still shorthanded.

St. John's responded at 14:34 as Maxwell threaded a pass to Jason Gregoire to bring the score to 5-4.

Craig added an empty-netter with 52 seconds remaining in regulation.

In the first period, McArdle opened the scoring when a no-look backhand pass from Kevin Clark found the winger for a tap-in goal.

The Penguins responded just over a minute later on the power play when Lerg batted the puck out of the air and into the IceCaps' net.

Absent from the IceCaps line-up was all-star defenceman Paul Postma, currently on recall with the Winnipeg Jets, but head coach McCambridge didn't believe that contributed to the loss.

"(Postma) has a real heavy shot and lots of points on offence," said McCambridge. "It helps to have a guy like that back there, but we have other guys who can pick up the slack and have to get the job done, and we didn't."

Craig knocked in a cross-crease pass from Zach Sill at 7:55 of the second to give Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 2-1 lead.

Festerling scored at 9:39 of the second by tipping in a shot from Jason King to tie the game 2-2.

David Aebisher, who made 19 saves on 22 shots, missed on a pokecheck during the penalty shot and gave up the goal.

Aside from the game winner and the penalty shot, every conversion came on quick plays in the so-called 'dirty areas' around the net.

"Both teams do a good job of blocking shots and are tight-knit defensively," said Gregoire. "So it's tight passing plays that are going to do it."

Carl Klingberg was awarded a penalty shot, as well, at 8:23 of the third, but lost the handle as he tried to deke Theissen.

On the ensuing faceoff, the IceCaps tied up the puck in front of the Penguins net and Maxwell snapped in a goal to tie it 3-3.

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