IceCaps fall just short in 4-3 loss
Crunch even best-of-five series at one heading back to St. John’s
Luck was not on the side of the St. John’s IceCaps Saturday night.
The Syracuse Crunch capitalized on several fortunate bounces to record a 4-3 victory at the War Memorial in Game 2 of the best-of-five Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, knotting the series at one.
St. John’s got on the board first for the second straight game just 41 seconds after the opening faceoff. Brock Trotter, playing in just his fourth game with the IceCaps, made a slick pass out front to Gagnon, who potted his first of two on the night to give St. John’s an early 1-0 advantage.
Syracuse drew even at 11:03 of the first on Bell’s second of the series when he cashed in on a loose puck in the crease, tying the score at one. The teams headed to the dressing room knotted at one after 20 minutes, with the Crunch outshooting the IceCaps 15-8.
Early in the middle frame, Syracuse pulled ahead after a point shot by Mat Clark hit several players in front of Pasquale and trickled over the goal line just 41 seconds into the period.
Less than two minutes later, yet another unfortunate bounce resulted in a Syracuse goal. Pasquale made the initial save on a John Mitchell shot on a two-on-two rush, but the puck caromed off Jason DeSantis’ leg and ended up in the net, giving the Crunch a 3-1 lead.
St. John’s settled down and continued to display its never say die attitude, getting one back towards the end of the period after some nice work in the Crunch zone. Spencer Machacek corralled the puck along the side boards and fed Patrice Cormier in the high slot, and the Moncton native one-timed a shot that beat Tarkki on the glove the side to close the gap to 3-2.
In the third, yet another goal was scored in the period’s opening minute. St. John’s drew even on a power play when DeSantis’ point shot rebounded to Gagnon, who potted his second of the game to tie the score at three with just 46 seconds elapsed in the final frame.
McMillan’s power play marker at with 7:35 left in regulation turned out to be the winner.
Things got chippy late in the game and tempers eventually boiled over after the final whistle as Machacek and Clark dropped the gloves, setting the stage for what should be an intense Game 3 next week in St. John’s.
The two teams will hook up Wednesday at Mile One Centre in the first ever playoff game for the IceCaps on home soil.
Catch all the action with IceCaps play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com, on the radio at 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador and on Rogers TV. Pregame show begins at 7:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck set for 7:30 (all times Newfoundland).
Gagnon’s two goals Saturday gave him 14 career playoff goals in 42 games. The BC native has also recorded 9 points in 6 games versus Syracuse this season….Pasquale has faced 77 shots in the two games at Syracuse, and his 40 shots against on Saturday were the most he has faced all season. His previous high of 39 came on Feb. 28 at Binghamton….Max Macenauer and Zach Redmond drew into the lineup after sitting Game 1. Kevin Clark and Travis Ramsey were scratches for St. John’s….The IceCaps were outshot just 22 times in the regular season, winning 12 of those contests, but have been outshot in both games this series by combined margin of 77-50.