Game 7 Preview: IceCaps, Penguins go down to the wire
It all comes down to one game.
The St. John’s IceCaps and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hook up one last time in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series Saturday night at Mile One Centre.
Saturday’s winner will find itself advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the top-seeded Norfolk Admirals, which defeated the Connecticut Whale 2-1 in overtime Friday to win the series 4-2.
Things look a lot different for St. John’s than they did just a few days ago. After winning two straight games in overtime to take a commanding 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5, the IceCaps have allowed the Penguins back into the series with consecutive losses for the first time this postseason.
Friday, the IceCaps surrendered a one-goal lead with just nine seconds left in the second period while trying to kill off multiple penalties. The momentum carried over into the third frame where Zach Sill notched the eventual game-winner on a deflection in front of the net. Paul Thompson’s unassisted marker at the 16:30 mark was the final nail in the coffin as the Penguins skated off with a 4-2 victory to force Game 7.
“You’ve gotta give them a lot of credit,” said defenceman Paul Postma after the loss. “They’re a really good team and they’re not gonna back down. Obviously the last game of the series is the hardest to win. We want to close it out, but they’re not going to go down with a fight.”
Head coach Keith McCambridge appeared confident following the game that his team could still get the job done, citing the fact that they came into the weekend with two chances to win on home ice.
“You have Game 7. You’re on your home ice,” McCambridge said. “The two teams have played each other pretty closely, close tight-knit games. We went in their building and won two of three, and came home and talked about winning one of two. That’s still the case.”
The IceCaps will have to find a way to beat a stifling Penguins’ forecheck that has caused the team problems when moving the puck out of its defensive zone. The Penguins were relentless in forcing the play deep in the St. John’s zone, leading to several turnovers and subsequent scoring chances.
Puck drop Saturday night is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Newfoundland time. 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 watch the game live on Rogers TV and streaming online at www.ahllive.com. Pregame show begins at 7:00.