IceCaps’ rally falls short
Team earns single point in 4-3 OT loss to Penguins
By Chris Doyle
St. John’s, NL – It could have been much worse, but it was still a tough pill to swallow for the home team.
The St. John’s IceCaps managed to scrape out a point, twice coming back from two-goal deficits, but ultimately losing in overtime 4-3 to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Sunday afternoon at Mile One Centre. The loss meant the IceCaps were swept in a two-game series for just the second time this season, with the only other instance coming back in late November after St. John’s lost a pair of games to the Toronto Marlies.
The power play was the story for a second straight game, and not in a good way. A night after surrendering back-to-back shorthanded goals in a span of 21 seconds in the third period, the IceCaps allowed yet another goal with the man-advantage and finished Sunday just 1-for-6, going a combined 1-for-11 in the two-game series.
Spencer Machacek, Ben Maxwell and Jason Jaffray scored for St. John’s (22-11-4-1), which has lost three-of-four and finished their six-game homestand with an even 3-3 record. The Penguins (22-12-1-4) moved to 16-3-0-2 on the road with the victory.
Bryan Lerg got things started in the first period at the 14:00 mark when he forced an IceCaps turnover just inside his own blueline and coasted in on a shorthanded breakaway, beating starter Eddie Pasquale for the game’s opening tally. Just 2:44 later, Robert Bortuzzo’s point shot deflected to rookie Paul Thompson, who buried his sixth goal of the season, giving the Penguins a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
After a bout between Kenndal McArdle and Zach Sill in the final minute of the opening frame, the IceCaps were energized coming out of the dressing room for the second period. Machacek made his way into the slot and wristed a shot that handcuffed Penguins goalie Scott Monroe for his 10th of the season just 2:18 into the frame, cutting the lead to 2-1 and restoring the faith of the 22nd consecutive sellout crowd at Mile One.
The score stayed that way until the 12:05 mark when Ben Street’s shot deflected off PEI native Geoff Walker’s skate and underneath Pasquale on the power play to give the Penguins a two-goal cushion once again.
The third period saw the Penguins get into severe penalty trouble in the early stages, but the IceCaps were unable to capitalize. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton took four straight minor penalties within a two-minute span, but the IceCaps’ struggling power play unit could not muster anything.
However, the momentum carried over despite the lack of success with the man-advantage. At the 12:46 mark, Kevin Clark gained the offensive zone and dropped a pass to Maxwell, who one-timed a shot past a partially-screened Monroe to close the gap to one. Then, the IceCaps finally came through on the power play at 13:50 of the third when Jason Jaffray marched towards the net and fired a perfectly-placed wrister off the post and in, beating Monroe high on the blocker side. Both teams had chances to take the lead late but the score remained even through 60 minutes, and overtime was needed to break the tie.
In the extra frame, it was Street who earned hero status, redirecting a Joey Mormina point shot that found the back of the net for the game-winner, sending the 6,287 in attendance home disappointed.
After playing six games in 10 days, the IceCaps get a break before heading out on the road next weekend for three games, beginning Friday in Hartford against the Connecticut Whale, then continuing in Portland on Saturday and Worcester on Sunday.
Catch all the action with Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930 AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Pregame show begins a half hour before game time.
Notes: Eddie Pasquale got his first start in goal since New Y ear’s Day in Toronto… Eric O’Dell was a healthy scratch, and was joined upstairs in the press box by injured teammates Shawn Weller and Riley Holzapfel… Jason DeSantis was named the Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player… Marco Rosa turned 30 on Sunday, but continues to sit out as he recovers from injury…Renowned goalie mask artist Frank Cipra presented IceCaps president and CEO Danny Williams with a commemorative goalie mask to honour the inaugural season of the IceCaps… The IceCaps sold out their game Sunday, extending their consecutive game streak to 22.
Game Photos (Jeff Parsons):