Bulldogs hang on to beat IceCaps
The St. John’s IceCaps dug themselves a hole early and were unable to complete the comeback, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs Friday night at Copps Coliseum.
The Bulldogs scored three times in the game’s opening eight minutes, chasing reigning Reebok/AHL Player of the Week Eddie Pasquale from the St. John’s net. Hamilton built up a 4-0 lead and withstood a second period charge that saw the IceCaps scored three unanswered goals to win their second straight game and snap the IceCaps’ four-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs struck first at 3:39 of the first period on a turnover inside IceCaps territory. Aaron Palushaj got the puck to Joonas Nattinen, who snapped a shot that beat Pasquale for the game’s opening goal.
Just 43 seconds later, Nattinen got his second of the night after another IceCaps turnover in their zone. Palushaj once again found Nattinen in the slot area, who wristed a shot past Pasquale for a quick 2-0 Hamilton lead.
At the 7:55 mark of the first, the Bulldogs pulled ahead 3-0 on a rocket by Mark Mitera. The puck squirted loose from the side boards and slid right to Mitera, who one-timed a bullet from the high slot past Pasquale, ending his night early. Pasquale allowed three goals on just eight shots in less than half a period of play. David Aebischer replaced Pasquale and stopped 16-of-17 shots the rest of the way.
After Philip DeSimone potted a rebound for a power play goal early in the middle frame, the IceCaps finally got onto the scoresheet on a nice tip-in by winger Kevin Clark. Arturs Kulda worked the puck across to Brett Festerling, who fired a shot at the net that was deflected nicely by Clark for his ninth of the season, making the score 4-1 Hamilton.
St. John’s continued to throw pucks at the net and its efforts paid off just 2:16 later. Paul Postma’s shot from the point was redirected by Shawn Weller for his ninth of the season, cutting the lead in half.
Then, at 13:24 of the second, Paul Postma got his 11th goal of the season – tops among all AHL defencemen – on a perfectly placed shot from the point on a St. John’s power play to close the gap to 4-3 heading into the final 20 minutes.
The IceCaps appeared to tie the game at four on another power play early in the third period when Ben Maxwell rifled a one-timer that found the twine behind goalie Nathan Lawson. However, referee Mark Lemelin determined that there was incidental contact with Lawson on the play, resulting in the goal being waved off.
The questionable call was enough to deflate the IceCaps, who managed just five shots on goal for the entire third period and were stifled by a tight-checking Hamilton team.
Despite the loss, the IceCaps maintain a 12-point lead atop the Atlantic Division over the Manchester Monarchs, who were thumped 5-1 by the Adirondack Phantoms. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who defeated the Binghamton Senators 6-1 on Friday, climbed to within three points of St. John’s for first in the Eastern Conference.
The IceCaps will receive a chance to get back on track when they visit the Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum Saturday afternoon. The IceCaps are 3-3-1-0 versus the Marlies this season but have won two-of-three as the road team in the season series.
Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com or on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Pregame show begins at 4:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (all times Newfoundland).
St. John’s falls to 3-2-0-0 versus Hamilton this season….C Maxime Macenauer made his IceCaps debut Friday after being acquired in a trade with Anaheim for Riley Holzapfel, recording one shot and two minutes in penalties….D Paul Postma scored his 11th of the season and also added an assist, passing RW Spencer Machacek for the team lead in scoring with 37 points in 43 games….D Arturs Kulda assisted on a pair of goals, his second multi-point game of the season….Despite allowing three goals on eight shots in the first, Eddie Pasquale was not credited with the loss….The IceCaps’ road record falls to 17-3-2-1.