IceCaps hang on for 3-2 victory
By Chris Doyle
The IceCaps carried their recent road success back to St. John’s Friday night at Mile One Centre.
Arturs Kulda, Paul Postma and Kevin Clark scored for St. John’s (28-11-5-1), which also got another strong effort from goaltender Eddie Pasquale. Coming off a shutout of the Portland Pirates last Saturday, Pasquale stopped 24 shots to pick up his 11th win in 17 games this season.
After winning five-of-six on the road to end the month of January, the IceCaps defeated the Worcester Sharks 3-2 to extend their overall winning streak to five games. The win gets the club off to a good start for its current six-game homestand, as the coaches and players all try to solve the riddle of their home record.
“We wanted to improve on our home record and that’s something we did tonight,” said Clark, the game’s second star for his game-winning goal performance. “We’ve got five more here at home we have to forget about tonight, look forward to tomorrow and take one game at time here.”
The IceCaps used an aggressive forecheck to control the flow and set the tone early, jumping all over the Sharks from the opening faceoff, outshooting the visitors 8-0 to start the game, and 31-26 overall.
“What we needed was intensity, execution, speed, that compete level that we ask for, and all that was there,” said head coach Keith McCambridge. “Our thing has to be our focus. Every period we have a goal in mind, and that’s winning each period.”
The two teams traded chances early, and Kulda finally got the home side on the board at 17:44 of the first period on a shot from the point that hit a stick in front of Sharks goaltender Harri Sateri. Riley Holzapfel made a good play to get the puck back to the Latvian rearguard, who gave the IceCaps a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
Worcester tied things up early in the middle frame on a turnover behind the IceCaps net. Tim Kennedy stole the puck and fed Mike Connolly in the slot, who buried his ninth of the season past a helpless Pasquale to make it 1-1.
The IceCaps bounced back just 1:35 later on the power play, when all-star defenceman Postma one-timed a laser that cleanly beat Sateri for his eighth goal of the campaign, and fourth with the man advantage.
“I definitely was (frustrated),” Postma said of the Worcester goal. “It was kind of a minor breakdown in our D-Zone. There was some chirping on the other bench directed at me. Obviously I didn’t like that too much, so I wanted to go out there and get it back, and we did.”
St. John’s added to its lead late in the second on a nice effort by Clark. Jason Gregoire took a shot that was partially blocked but found its way to the net, where a wide open Clark was waiting. The Winnipeg native spun and tucked a shot past an outstretched Sateri, giving the IceCaps a 3-1 lead.
Worcester closed the gap to 3-2 on a controversial play with 1:09 left in the second period. John Albert was seemingly hit from behind but the play went unnoticed by the officiating crew. Several of Albert’s teammates came to his rescue, leaving Jack Combs and Chad Costello with a two-on-one down low. Combs found Costello, who flipped it back to Combs for the easy tap-in, making it a one-goal game with 20 minutes to play.
The IceCaps clamped down defensively in the third to record the win and temporarily move 10 points up on second place Manchester in the Atlantic Division, and four points ahead of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
St. John’s has now won four-of-six games versus Worcester, with the seventh of eight matchups set for Saturday night at Mile One. Friday’s win by the IceCaps was the first by a home team in the season series.
Catch all the action with Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com or on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with the pregame show beginning at 7:00 (all times Newfoundland).
St. John’s was 1-for-5 on the power play, while Worcester was 0-for-2….The IceCaps improved to 18-2-1-1 when scoring first and 13-0-1-1 when leading after 20 minutes….St. John’s has not allowed a power play goal in three straight games and is 25-for-27 in its last seven contests….Newcomer John Negrin, acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames earlier this week, was a healthy scratch for the IceCaps, along with rookie forward Eric O’Dell….The IceCaps are a perfect 10-0-0-0 when allowing two goals or fewer….Friday’s game was the 23rd consecutive sellout at Mile One Centre.
Game Photos (Jeff Parsons)