IceCaps lose to Crunch in shootout
Stephenville, NL – The St. John’s IceCaps dropped their second straight decision to the Syracuse Crunch 3-2 in a shootout Friday night at the Stephenville Dome.
Brett Connolly scored the shootout winner while Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson also found the back of the net. Carl Klingberg scored the IceCaps’ lone shootout marker and also added a goal in the second period.
Eddie Pasquale started in goal for St. John’s and was tagged with the loss, allowing goals to three-of-four Crunch players in the shootout. Riku Helenius picked up the victory for Syracuse.
Hunter Tremblay opened the scoring on a St. John’s 5-on-3 with 3:50 left in the opening frame. Derek Whitmore fed Zach Redmond in the slot and the defenceman’s one-timer caromed right to Tremblay at the side of the net. The sophomore winger swiftly wristed the puck into the open net, giving the IceCaps a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
St. John’s added to its lead just 1:03 into the second period. Whitmore stepped out of the penalty box and fed a streaking Klingberg, who went in on a partial break and beat Helenius high on the blocker side to give the IceCaps a two goal cushion.
Syracuse cut the lead in half just a few minutes later on a goal by Connolly. The Crunch forward stepped in over the blue line on the left side and wristed a shot that beat Pasquale high on the short side.
The two teams skated off after 40 minutes with St. John’s holding a 2-1 advantage, but not before some rough stuff to end the frame. IceCaps’ forward Norm Ezekiel took on heavyweight Eric Neilson in a spirited tilt that left the undersized Ezekiel a bit bloody as he left the ice.
The Crunch finally drew even at 11:01 of the third period on a power play marker by Matt Taormina. The Crunch defenceman shoveled home a backhand in front of the net with the extra man to knot the game at two and force overtime.
In the extra frame, the teams thrilled the Stephenville fans with back-and-forth action but neither squad could find the back of the net, resulting in a shootout to decide the outcome.
After Palat and Klingberg traded goals, it was all Syracuse. Connolly scored on a nice forehand move to put the Crunch ahead for good. Tremblay, Alex Burmistrov and Whitmore were all stopped by Helenius.
The IceCaps and Crunch finish off their Mary Brown’s Cup exhibition series Sunday afternoon at the Clarenville Events Centre. Catch all the action with broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland and Labrador. Game time is set for 2:00 p.m. with the pregame show hitting the airwaves at 1:30.