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St. John’s loses 4-3 to Providence on opening night

ST. JOHN’S, NL – The IceCaps showed resilience but couldn’t complete the comeback, losing 4-3 to the Providence Bruins at Mile One Centre in the AHL’s season-opening game.

J.C. Lipon and Eric O’Dell scored in the game’s final 1:49 to send it to overtime but Nick Johnson got Providence the two points with a breakaway goal, his second tally of the night, in the extra frame.

Niklas Svedberg was solid for the Bruins, making 40 saves. Eddie Pasquale stopped 26-of-30 shots for St. John’s in the loss.

Matt Fraser got things started for the Bruins towards the end of the first to give the visitors the first goal of the 2013-14 AHL season. Fraser pounced on a loose puck in the slot and his backhand beat Pasquale to put Providence on top 1-0.

The Bruins extended their lead to two in the second on Johnson’s first of the night. The IceCaps turned the puck over in front of their own net after a failed clearing attempt and Johnson quickly banged it home to make it a 2-0 game.

St. John’s cut the lead in half in the final frame on their 35th shot of the night. Patrice Cormier’s blast from the left wing was partially blocked but Adam Lowry followed up and shoveled in the trickling disc, making it a 2-1 contest.

The Bruins regained their two-goal lead minutes later on a power play. After the IceCaps were whistled for too many men on the ice, Alexander Khokhlachev dropped for Jared Knight at the St. John’s blueline and the big winger wheeled in on the left side, fooling Pasquale with a wrister to the short side for a 3-1 Providence advantage.

The IceCaps battled back once to close the gap to one. With 1:49 to go in regulation Brenden Kichton took a drop pass and wired a shot on goal that hit Lipon in the back and eluded Svedberg, cutting the lead to 3-2.

Then, with just 56 seconds left, O’Dell thrilled the crowd with the tying marker. After a great play by Jerome Samson to keep the puck in the offensive zone, Kael Mouillierat fed a beautiful backhand pass to O’Dell in front of the net. O’Dell converted to send the game to overtime knotted at three.

But Johnson ended it on an unfortunate play after Will O’Neill’s stick snapped at the point, sending the Bruins forward in alone. Johnson made a move to the backhand and beat Pasquale to put Providence on top for good.

The IceCaps and Bruins face off again Saturday in the second of two games at Mile One. Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at stjohnsicecaps.com and 930AM and watch live on Rogers TV and AHL Live. Pregame show starts at 7:00 p.m. NT with puck drop set for 7:30.

Notes:
There were a total of just three power plays in the game; St. John’s went 0-for-1 while Providence went 1-for-2… Both Adam Lowry and J.C. Lipon scored their first professional goals… Eric O’Dell led all IceCaps skaters with six shots on goal. The line of O’Dell, Kael Mouillierat and Josh Lunden combined for 13 shots and a +6 rating… Blair Riley sustained a head injury and left the game after a second period fight with the Bruins’ Tyler Randell… Scratched for St. John’s: Patrick Cullity, Kris Fredheim, Kyle MacKinnon, Zach Redmond, Cody Sol, Carl Klingberg, Travis Ehrhardt, Austen Brassard… Molson Canadian Three Stars: 1. Eric O’Dell, 2. Niklas Svedberg, 3. Nick Johnson… Mary Brown’s Hardest Working Player: Josh Lunden.

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