ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland – The St. John’s IceCaps were able to fend off the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and earn a 3-2 win in Game Seven at Mile One Centre to clinch the Eastern Conference Semifinal. Aaron Gagnon found the back of net twice to help the IceCaps move on to face the Norfolk Admirals
With the score tied at one in the second period, St. John’s was able to retake its one-goal edge at 11:35 with the help of the power play.
Gagnon pulled out of the near corner with the puck and slid a pass toward the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton crease that kicked off a skate and through the pads of netminder Brad Thiessen.
Fifty-seven seconds into the third frame, Gagnon provided the eventual game-winner when he cut out from behind the Penguins’ net and dumped in a shot from left circle that slipped inside the far post.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton cut St. John’s lead in half midway through the same period after the team hopped on a 5-on-4 advantage. Colin McDonald was able to settle down a deflected pass from Eric Tangradi and rip a shot to the top shelf to make the score 3-2.
The Penguins would have their opportunities to send the game past regulation, but IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasquale shut the door as he finished with 26 saves.
Trying to avoid a collapse after being up 3-1 in the series, St. John’s opened the game firing on all cylinders and enjoying the majority of offensive chances.
The IceCaps broke through at 11:52 when John Albert worked by the defense on the far boards of the Penguins zone and centered a pass that Ray Sawada fired into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Penguins were able to even the match at 6:43 of the second when Tangradi sent an outlet pass from just inside his own blueline to spring Ryan Craig on a breakaway. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton captain fired a wrist shot from the hashmarks that sailed past the stick side of Pasquale.
Thiessen turned aside 24 of 27 shots, including three breakaway chances for St. John’s.