ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The St. John's IceCaps continue to struggle in back-to-back home games.
Kyle Palmieri's second hat trick of the season lifted the Syracuse Crunch to a 5-3 win over the IceCaps in American Hockey League action Wednesday.
Palmieri, who also had an assist, leads the AHL with 17 goals.
The IceCaps beat the Crunch 4-3 on Tuesday, but couldn't complete the sweep of the two-game series. St. John's has only managed to sweep a two-game home series once this season, against the Connecticut Whale Nov. 12 and 13.
The IceCaps seem to fare better on the road with record of 8-0-2 away from Mile One Centre. Last weekend they beat Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto on the road, while a week ago they were swept in a two-game home series by the Marlies.
St. John's is 7-5-2 at home.
IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge understands the difficulty in back-to-back home games, a set-up he was familiar with in his two previous years as assistant coach with the Manitoba Moose.
"The team that wins the first game, lays off the gas, potentially, for the second game," he said. "The team that loses ... comes out with a push. They are hungry to get their points out of this building so the mindset has to be making sure you win that first game, making sure you're having a real strong push, having a good start to the game. Our start wasn't good (tonight).
McCambridge is still tinkering with ways to improve his team's consistency in back-to-back home games.
"We've got to find a way to put together back-to-back wins, we've only beat Connecticut twice. You need to get momentum in the games," he said.
Peter Holland had a goal and two assists for Syracuse (11-9-3) while Brandon McMillan, into an empty net, also scored.
Kevin Clark, Paul Postma and Aaron Gagnon replied for the IceCaps (15-5-4).
Jeff Deslauriers made 23 saves for Syracuse, while Edward Pasquale stopped 30 shots for St. John's.
Palmieri opened the scoring 8:08 into the first period. Holland fed the puck from behind the net to Palmieri, whose wrist shot beat Pasquale.
Palmieri struck again with 3:49 remaining in the first with a power-play goal to extend the Crunch's lead to 2-0.
St. John's replied 5:16 into the second period when Clark beat Deslauriers, who was returned from NHL's Anaheim on Tuesday.
The Crunch restored their two-goal lead less than two minutes later, as Holland scored a power-play goal after being set up by Palmieri.
Postma scored with 5:41 to play in the second to cut the lead to 3-2.
Palmieri scored his third goal of the game on a breakaway 4:52 into the third period.
"Palmieri is a top player in the league, he's up there in goals, he gets two right away, you've got to be aware of that and you've got to be aware of when he is on the ice," Clark said.
The IceCaps fought back, and Gagnon's goal made it 4-3 with 2:19 remaining in regulation.
McMillan scored an empty-net goal with 57 seconds to play.
St. John's veteran Jason King, who has 17 points in 23 games this season, left the game early with an injury. McCambridge was awaiting for a re-assessment of the injury on Thursday.
???We don't know, right now it's day-to-day is what the trainers are saying," McCambridge said.