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Admirals stun IceCaps in Game 1 Posted by IceCaps on

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Photos by John Wright

St. John’s loses 6-1 in Game 1; Admirals take 1-0 series lead

By Chris Doyle
Communications Coordinator

NORFOLK, VA – The Norfolk Admirals showed why they were the AHL’s best team in the regular season with a 6-1 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps in Game 1 Thursday night at Scope Arena. With the win, the Admirals take a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals.

Trailing just 1-0 heading into the second frame, the IceCaps surrendered three second period goals as the Admirals put the game out of reach. Eddie Pasquale had a rare off-night, allowing four goals on 21 shots before being replaced by David Aebischer. Zach Redmond scored the only marker for St. John’s, his first of the playoffs.

While the Admirals can be given full credit for the victory, the game was hardly typical of St. John’s play in this playoff season. The club couldn’t get any sustained pressure in the final two periods, as the Admirals speed created havoc in the IceCaps zone.

“We didn’t bring our best game, obviously,” head coach Keith McCambridge said following the loss. “I thought they picked up the pace of the game and executed better than us and you saw the result in the score.

It’s not a one-game series; it’s a seven-game series. Our objective right now is we’d like to focus on getting the split out of here. With that being said, we have a chance (Friday) to regroup and get focused on what we need to do. I know that group in there and that team realizes what they put on the ice (Thursday) isn’t close to good enough for this time of the year.”

Mike Kostka had a pair of goals for Norfolk while Trevor Smith, Tyler Johnson, Cory Conacher and Ondrej Palat all had multi-point efforts for the home side. Dustin Tokarski made 29 saves in the victory.

The Admirals struck first on a power play late in the first. The IceCaps found themselves down a man after Patrice Cormier went off for goaltender interference. On the ensuing man advantage, Evan Oberg worked the puck to Mike Kostka at the right point, who blasted a slap shot past a screened Eddie Pasquale for a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.

St. John’s had several opportunities to score in the first period, when Norfolk ran into a bit of penalty trouble with a Keith Aulie double minor followed by a Mark Barberio delay of game penalty. However, the IceCaps couldn’t capitalize, and then Norfolk scored on a power play of their own.

“That kind of popped their balloon a little bit,” Norfolk head coach Jon Cooper said. “If our PK doesn’t step up, and they score one in that span, you’re probably looking at a whole different hockey game. It didn’t suck all the momentum from St. John’s but it really gave us a boost and just kind of rolled from there.”

“If we would have gotten a goal there, were we good enough to win that game? Probably not,” McCambridge said. “It would have been nice to have one there, but we just didn’t have enough personnel going tonight.”

Norfolk added to its lead at 3:08 of the second with another power play tally. Michel Ouellet barged out in front of the net from the corner and knocked in his own rebound to give the Admirals a 2-0 advantage just 3:36 into the second frame.

Kostka added his second of the game at the 11:04 mark on a similar shot as his first goal. Philip-Michael Devos banked a pass off the boards to the point for the defenceman, who blasted a slap shot that beat Pasquale high on the blocker side to make it 3-0.

Just 2:38 later, J.P Cote got his first of the playoffs when he one-timed a shot from the point that Pasquale got a piece of but got through and found the back of the net. That spelled the end for the IceCaps netminder, who was pulled in favour of David Aebischer.

Norfolk carried the momentum into the third period as Palat got his fourth of the playoffs on a nice setup from Johnson, who fed a cross-ice pass right onto Palat’s tape. The crafty winger found the twine to put the home side up 5-0.

Redmond got one back for St. John’s at 2:11 of the period on a power play. Trotter’s attempt to get the puck to the net caromed to Redmond near the side of the goal, and the IceCaps’ defenceman swept the puck in with a backhander to make it 5-1.

Keith Aulie capped off the scoring with his first of the playoffs at 7:21 when he took a pass from Palat in the slot wristed a shot past Aebischer for Norfolk’s sixth goal of the night.

“They’re a really good team and sometimes the good teams bring out the best in us, and that’s what happened tonight,” Cooper said. “St. John’s didn’t get here by fluke. They didn’t win all those games and finish second in the conference by luck. They’re a really good team.”

With a 1-0 series deficit, the IceCaps will look to bounce back in Game 2 Saturday night at Scope Arena and earn a split heading back to St. John’s.

Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Fans can also see the game streaming live at www.ahllive.com.

Notes:
St. John’s went just 1-for-7 on the power play while the Admirals were 2-for-5…Four of Norfolk’s six goals were scored by defencemen. Five of the seven total goals in the game came from blueliners….IceCaps goalie David Aebischer saw his first game action in more than a month. His last appearance was a start on Apr. 14 at Springfield, a 3-1 loss….Defenceman Arturs Kulda and forward Spencer Machacek were scratches. Jason DeSantis and Kevin Clark took their places in the lineup, respectively….In addition to his two goals, Admirals defenceman Mike Kostka was a game-high plus-four and had four shots on goal, tied for tops on the team….Former NFL defensive lineman and Hall of Famer Bruce Smith was on hand for the ceremonial opening faceoff…. Thursday’s announced attendance was 3,541.

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