IceCaps pushed back by Penguins
By Chris Doyle
The St. John’s IceCaps fell 3-1 to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series Wednesday night at Mile One Centre. With the win, the Penguins evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
The IceCaps had trouble containing a Penguins club eager to get into the win column before heading back home. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton outshot St. John’s 38-23 and controlled the game from start to finish. With the Penguins shorthanded, Joey Mormina notched the game-winning goal early in the third, while Justin Williams provided the insurance marker on a power play just minutes later. Brad Thiessen was sharp when tested, stopping 22-of-23 shots.
“We knew they were going to come out with a better game than they had (Tuesday) night,” head coach Keith McCambridge said after the contest. “I thought they came out with the intensity we thought they would and I thought we didn’t have much push back. I thought they out-battled us for loose pucks. They’re big and strong and the physical side of the game, they won that side.”
For the IceCaps, Eddie Pasquale was brilliant again, keeping the home team in it for most of the game despite being outplayed. Pasquale made 35 saves in just his second defeat of the postseason.
The visitors struck first for the second straight game on a scramble in front of Pasquale. Eric Tangradi found the bouncing puck and whacked in his second of the playoffs to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead at the 9:48 mark of the first.
St. John’s tied it at one at 15:42 of the first on a power play tally by Ben Maxwell. Brock Trotter gained the Penguins zone and dropped a pass to Derek Meech, who fired a shot at the net that caromed off Maxwell’s leg and past Thiessen to make it 1-1.
The score stayed tied through two periods, but the Penguins controlled the play for most of the first two frames, outshooting the IceCaps 28-11 after 40 minutes.
The visitors grabbed the momentum early in the third and snatched the energy out of the building with a shorthanded goal at 2:38 after the IceCaps had trouble advancing the puck out of their own zone. O’Reilly took the puck at the side boards and fed a pinching Mormina, who beat Pasquale from the left side for the go-ahead goal.
Then, after a Patrice Cormier hooking penalty put the club down a man, the Penguins capitalized on the power play to pull ahead by two. O’Reilly put the puck on a tee for Jason Williams at the point and the Penguins’ leading playoff scorer blew a slap shot past Pasquale for a 3-1 lead.
The IceCaps attempted a rally late on a power play but could not pull the trigger. With the net empty for the extra attacker, St. John’s maintained pressure on the six-on-four but could not get a quality shot on goal. For the game, the IceCaps went just one-for-seven with the man advantage and are now just five-of-29 in the postseason.
The game was the polar opposite of Tuesday night’s contest, a fact not lost on anybody. Coach McCambridge said
“What’s shocking, a surprise on our side, is that after you see that all season long with where we’re located, St. John’s, and to still come out without enough intensity that you need. But that’s the nature of the beast, and that’s the nature of having back-to-back games in the American League. You know the other team is going to come out with motive and energy, and you have to make sure you’re at the same level.”
Defenceman Travis Ramsey said the biggest difference in the two games was the time spent in the IceCaps zone. However, the Californian says good playoff teams don’t get too emotional after wins or losses.
“They’re a good team, but we’re also a good team,” Ramsey said. “It’s a tough challenge playing a game like this and whether you’re home or away, we just have to worry about ourselves. If we do that, we will be a lot more successful.”
The series now shifts to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for games three, four and five beginning Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The IceCaps leave Thursday afternoon for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Fans can also see the games streaming live at www.ahllive.com. Pregame show begins 30 minutes before puck drop. For the IceCaps complete second round schedule, visit www.stjohnsicecaps.com.
The IceCaps fall to 3-1 at home in the playoffs….With an assist on Ben Maxwell’s first period tally, Brock Trotter extended his scoring streak to six games (3G, 4A) and has a point in every playoff game thus far…..St. John’s outshot its opponent in 51 of 76 regular season games but has been outshot in four of its six playoff games. The club has also been scored on first in three-of-six contests….G Eddie Pasquale has faced 30 shots or more in all but one postseason game….Derek Meech’s assist Wednesday gave him the playoff lead for points by a defenceman with six….Wednesday’s 50/50 jackpot hit the $20,000 mark, the highest payout of the season….The IceCaps’ sellout streak now stands at 42 games.
Photos (Jeff Parsons)