Game 1 Preview: IceCaps at Admirals
The St. John’s IceCaps open up their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Final series against the Norfolk Admirals tonight at The Scope in Norfolk, VA.
After a grueling seven-game series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the IceCaps will begin a series on the road for the first time this postseason. The Admirals finished first overall in the Eastern Conference with 113 points, aided by a professional sports record 28 game winning streak to finish the regular season.
Both teams should be well-rested heading into the series opener. St. John’s last played on Saturday, while Norfolk has been idle since finishing its second round series one week ago. The Admirals defeated the Connecticut Whale in six games with a 2-1 overtime victory last Friday night.
“We’re excited about the challenge,” said head coach Keith McCambridge following practice on Wednesday. “Our group feels good about ourselves and we feel we’re at a good place right now as a team.”
The matchup between the pipes should be an interesting one to watch. Eddie Pasquale is firmly entrenched as the starter for the IceCaps after a solid rookie campaign and an impressive performance through the first two rounds. The Admirals, however, have a pair of netminders that have seen action this postseason in Jaroslav Janus and Dustin Tokarski. In the regular season, Tokarski played 45 games and was the team’s starter, but Janus has started each of the past two games, both Norfolk victories.
The IceCaps and Admirals met four times in the regular season, with Norfolk taking three-of-four. The teams split a pair of games at Mile One Centre in November while St. John’s lost both contests in Norfolk in late March during the Admirals record winning streak. The IceCaps were severely undermanned in those two games, however, missing a slew of regulars that included Pasquale, Paul Postma, Derek Meech, and Spencer Machacek.
“Right now we know they’re a good team but we know we’re also a very good team,” said winger Ray Sawada, who has scored in two consecutive games. “If we come out like we did in Game 7 and just focus on our ourselves and play our game, I don’t think there are too many teams that can match up with us.”
St. John’s will be looking to shut down a potent offensive attack that includes league MVP and Rookie of the Year Cory Conacher. The diminutive forward finished second in league scoring with 80 points and first with 39 goals. Conacher has six points (1G, 5A) in 10 games in the postseason.
A few unlikely sources are leading the charge for Norfolk in the playoffs. Alexandre Picard is tops on the team in scoring with 12 points (6G, 6A) while rookie Alex Killorn has come out of nowhere with 11 points (3G, 8A) after playing just 10 regular season contests. The 2007 draft pick was signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning after his senior season at Harvard University, where he was a Hobey Baker nominee and was selected to the 2011–12 ECAC Hockey First Team.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven conference final series goes Saturday, May 19 at The Scope, while the teams head to St. John’s for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) beginning Monday.
Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on the radio at 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Fans can see the game streaming live at www.ahllive.com.