IceCaps collapse against desperate Pirates
Game Summary | Box Score | Video Highlights
By Chris Doyle
St. John’s, Newfoundland – The St. John’s IceCaps were outplayed by a desperate Portland Pirates hockey club on Wednesday night, dropping a 5-1 decision at Mile One Centre, allowing the Pirates to remain in the playoff hunt.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot had a goal and two assists and Justin Pogge stopped 26 shots as the ninth-place Pirates gained valuable ground on Syracuse and Manchester for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
A night after a dominating performance in a 5-2 win, the injury-riddled IceCaps looked flat for most of the game and fell victim to a Portland squad that was hungry to avenge its loss the previous night and salvage a split of the two-game series. The special teams were especially ineffective: St. John’s went 0-for-3 with the man advantage – their third straight game without a power play goal – and allowed a shorthanded goal late in the first period. The penalty killing unit allowed a goal on just two Portland power play attempts.
“I didn’t like the way we played tonight obviously,” head coach Keith McCambridge said following the game. “I thought we had too many passengers. I thought our young guys added a lot of spark for us, but not enough. At the end of the day, we didn’t have enough guys going to get us the win.
“We knew they were pushing for the playoff lives and we looked like a team that was comfortable with where we were sitting in the standings.”
St. John’s sits second in the Eastern Conference with 90 points (41-22-5-3) and has a five-point lead over Bridgeport in third.
Goaltender Chris Carrozzi, making his second start as an IceCap, gave an admirable effort but was often hung out to dry. The rookie netminder stopped 26 shots, including several big saves in the early-going, but was tagged with the loss.
St. John’s got off to a fast start when Garth Murray scored just five minutes into the opening frame. John Albert hustled to pick up the puck behind the Portland net and made a no-look backhand pass right on the tape of Murray’s stick. The Regina native one-timed the pass top corner for the game’s first goal.
Portland tied things up at the 9:41 mark after a neutral zone turnover. Brett Sterling found Pouliot in the high slot, and the centre fired a wicked wrist shot that found the twine behind Carrozzi.
At 16:30, David Rundblad gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead with a power play marker. The offensive defenceman fired a slap shot past Carrozzi, who was unable to track the puck because of a perfect screen set by Mathieu Beaudoin.
Less than two minutes later – with the IceCaps on a power play – Matt Watkins was left alone at centre ice and waltzed in on a breakaway, sneaking a low shot through Carrozzi to hush the capacity crowd and give the Pirates a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.
“Short-handed goals at any time are momentum killers,” McCambridge said. “It’s really tough to get the game back where we want it after that.”
St. John’s fared no better in the middle frame. The Pirates extended the lead to three at 8:17 of the period when Sterling cashed in his 29th of the season after a spinning backhand attempt by Pouliot glanced off his chest and deflected into the net.
With the score 4-1 in the third, Brett MacLean was the recipient of a fortuitous carom off the post and notched his 24th of the season. Brett Festerling stumbled in the neutral zone, allowing Pouliot and MacLean to race in on a two-on-one. Pouliot’s initial attempt hit the post and found the stick of MacLean, who made no mistake for Portland’s fifth and final goal.
The loss snaps a mini two-game winning streak for the IceCaps, who look to wrap up the home portion of their schedule on a winning note this weekend with a two-game series versus the Springfield Falcons.
Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Saturday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. while Sunday’s contest is set for a 4:00 p.m. puck drop.
St. John’s finished up its season series with the Pirates at 4-3-0-1, including a 2-2 mark at home….D Will O’Neill, playing in his second home game as an IceCap, made his presence felt once again. The University of Maine alum dropped the gloves with former IceCap Kenndal McArdle a night after scoring his first professional goal….Kyle Rogers, who signed a PTO earlier in the day, made his debut and played on a line with Garth Murray and Scott Zurevinski. Rogers is the third IceCaps to wear the number 11 this season (Shayne Wiebe and Michael Forney were the other two)….Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Brett MacLean continued to cause problems for St. John’s. The duo has combined for a combined 16 points in the season series. The line of Pouliot-MacLean-Sterling totaled seven points in Wednesday’s win….Prior to the game, the IceCaps and Statoil honoured ‘Heroes of the Community’ with a ceremonial puck drop. Dave Ralph of Statoil and IceCaps Governor and COO Glenn Stanford were on hand for the ceremony, as were community heroes Kim Butler and Christian Legge. More than 100 community volunteers were present and were recognized during a timeout in the first period….Mile One Centre was sold out for the 36th consecutive time Wednesday.
Photos (Jeff Parsons)