IceCaps grind out 3-2 shootout victory
Photos by Jeff Parsons
Club sweeps Hershey, extends home winning streak to six games
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps grinded out a shootout win Saturday night, defeating the Hershey Bears 3-2 to sweep the two-game series at Mile One Centre and extend their home winning streak to six games.
Jason King scored his 17th goal of the season in the third period and added the shootout winner for St. John’s (37-15-5-2), which has also won four straight games overall. Eddie Pasquale was sharp, stopping 28-of-30 shots in regulation and overtime and turning aside all five Hershey shooters in the shootout.
The game was a lot closer checking than Friday’s 6-1 IceCaps win, but the four points earned by St. John’s over one of the AHL’s elite franchises was well received. These two teams hook up again later this month as the start and end of the club’s next road trip.
“They’re big points,” said winning goaltender Pasquale. “Hershey’s a top team. We have a lot of respect for them. We knew coming in it was going to be a tough weekend. The boys played hard and it was a good weekend for us.”
“Overall, it was a strong game,” head coach Keith McCambridge said following the game. “Special teams were a factor for both sides, but overall a good solid effort against a real strong team that we knew was going to have a real strong pushback.”
After a scoreless first period, Ryan Potulny got the visitors on the board when Jason DeSantis was sent off for hooking. Potulny one-timed a shot from the point, beating Pasquale along the ice after the IceCaps’ netminder was unable to get to the far post in time.
Paul Postma evened things up for St. John’s with a power play goal of his own at the 7:56 mark of the middle frame. Postma fired a shot from the point that got through a crowd and beat Dany Sabourin, who made the start in place of Braden Holtby. Postma’s 13th knotted the game at one and sent the teams into the dressing room all tied up.
In the third, King tied Jason Jaffray for the team lead with his 17th on a scramble in front of the Hershey net. After Travis Ramsey threw the puck at the goal, the puck bounced up to King, who batted it into the net, giving the IceCaps a 2-1 advantage with 11:05 remaining in the game.
However, the Bears were able to draw even late when a Sean Collins drive from the point was blocked and found the stick of a wide open Matt Pope, who swatted the puck past a helpless Pasquale to tie things at two, setting the stage for overtime.
Neither team could muster anything in the extra frame, giving the sellout crowd its first shootout in team history at Mile One Centre.
King was the sole shooter to find the twine. The Corner Brook native fired a wrist shot high to the glove side, beating Sabourin cleanly for the game winner.
“Shootouts, you just try to keep it simple,” King said. “He dropped his glove a little bit and you see an opening there and just try to get it up. I was fortunate to shoot second. (Ben) Maxwell went first and I kind of got a read off it. Sometime during the game you can see their tendencies. He was strong, but so was (Pasquale). He came up big for us in the shootout.”
Pasquale stopped all five shooters – including the final one in which he got some help from the goal post on Boyd Kane’s last ditch effort to extend the game for the Bears.
With the win, the IceCaps become just the second team to surpass 80 points on the season, joining the Norfolk Admirals. The IceCaps now sit just two points behind Norfolk for first overall in the Eastern Conference.
St. John’s hosts the Hamilton Bulldogs Tuesday and Wednesday before wrapping up its six-game home stand with a pair of contests next weekend versus the Manchester Monarchs.
Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Pregame show begins at 7:00 p.m. with the drop of the puck scheduled for 7:30 (all times Newfoundland).
The IceCaps improved their home record to 17-10-3-0….St. John’s is now 4-2 in shootouts this season. Pasquale has stopped nine of the 10 shooters he has faced….Defenceman Arturs Kulda was plus-1 Saturday, moving him to +19 on the season, tops on the club. The Latvian native was plus-4 in Friday’s contest….Hershey was playing without its top three scorers: Keith Aucoin (recalled by Washington), Chris Bourque (injured and did not travel), and Jacob Micflikier (left Friday’s game with an injury)….The IceCaps move to 27-10-4-0 when outshooting their opponents….The IceCaps have now sold out 30 consecutive games, with eight remaining this season.