IceCaps lose rough battle with Sharks
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps surrendered three third period goals en route to a 4-2 loss to the Worcester Sharks on a hostile Saturday night at Mile One Centre.
The Sharks scored a pair of goals 18 seconds apart in the third period to avenge Friday night’s loss and salvage a split of the two-game series. After a rough game Friday, the carnage spilled over into Saturday night’s matchup, with referee Marcus Vinnerborg handing out six fighting majors and 112 minutes in penalties.
A game with that many penalties played right into the Sharks’ hands. Coming into the game, Worcester had recorded the third most penalty minutes in the league, with 943, and had 71 major penalties prior to the weekend. The IceCaps, meanwhile, ranked 26th in penalties, with 655 minutes, and just 23 majors. And like their team nickname states, when the Sharks smelled blood, they moved in for the kill.
“Every team that comes in and plays us here, they play at their top level,” said an upset Keith McCambridge, the IceCaps head coach. “This game tonight was a physical style of game, and they knew there was a possibility they might get us away from our strengths. The problem with that is they play the physical game but the ref didn’t keep the game under control. They were able to play that physical style because the referee let calls right in front of him go.
“Our goaltender gets run twice, and there’s no call, and he gets a roughing (minor). John Albert gets run (Friday) night from behind and there’s no call on the play.
“The ref let that game get out of control in my mind. So it worked to their favour, because that’s the style of game they play. We play a fast-paced game and the ref let them play their style and gave them control of the game.”
The game got off to a fast and physical start when Garth Murray and Sena Acolatse dropped the gloves off the opening faceoff. The tilt set the tone for the game, as both teams played a physical brand of hockey for the entire 60 minutes. Late in the period, Patrice Cormier and Curt Gogol squared off after Gogol threw a big hit on Paul Postma in the corner. Then, with 1:24 left in the first, Murray got into his second scrap of the period when he traded blows with Brandon Mashinter after a battle along the boards.
“They haven’t had that much skill in the lineup the last little while, with some guys out,” said Murray after the game. “That’s their game plan – come in and run us. They have an old school coach with an old school mentality. That’s how the game was 10 years ago.
“If 18 seconds don’t happen there, it’s a different game. It’s a pretty frustrating result, but I’m pretty happy with the guys and how they stood up in there.”
The IceCaps got on the board early in the second period, at the tail end of a power play. Just as the Worcester penalty expired, Postma blasted a shot that ricocheted off the boards behind the net and caromed out front. Sharks goaltender Harri Sateri couldn’t find the loose puck as it glanced off his left leg and across the goal line for Postma’s ninth of the season.
The rough stuff continued throughout the second period. Midway through the frame, McArdle laid a big hit along the boards at centre ice and was immediately met by Sharks enforcer Gogol. As the two dropped the gloves, Murray and Nathan Moon engaged in fisticuffs in the corner. Murray landed the takedown after having his jersey stripped off and exited the ice with some choice words for the Sharks bench.
Worcester tied the game at 16:26 of the period when Livingston capitalized on a loose puck in front of Aebischer, burying his fifth goal of the season to make it a 1-1 game. The teams would head to the dressing room with the score the same.
Just 1:04 into the third period, Carl Klingberg snapped a 14-game scoring drought with his 12th of the season, redirecting a Postma shot from the side boards to give the IceCaps a 2-1 advantage.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Sharks marched right back to even the score once again. Ryan Del Monte coasted into the slot and fired a backhander that fooled Aebischer, evening the score at two at 5:57. Then, just 18 seconds later, Mike Connolly banged home the go-ahead marker from the left side to put Worcester in front 3-2.
Things heated up directly following the goal when Arturs Kulda got tangled up with Del Monte near the blueline. Both received fighting majors while Del Monte received the extra two minutes for roughing, but the IceCaps could not capitalize with the man advantage. In all, St. John’s went 0-for-6 on the power play.
The loss snaps a five-game winning streak that saw the IceCaps build up an eight-point advantage atop the Atlantic Division.
Next up, the IceCaps welcome the Providence Bruins Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting the Binghamton Senators next Saturday and Sunday.
Catch all the action with IceCaps play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com or on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Pregame show begins a half hour before puck drop.
Game Photos (Jeff Parsons)