IceCaps shut out by resurgent Johnson, Pirates
Club flat in captain Jaffray’s return
A night after the IceCaps scored eight times on Portland goaltender Chad Johnson, the26-year-old goalie stood tall in the rematch, stopping 25 shots in recording the shutout and picking up his first win of the season. On this night, the IceCaps couldn’t muster any offence in suffering their first shutout loss since March 29 at Norfolk and their first at home since March 18 versus Manchester. Eddie Pasquale started for St. John’s and made 15 saves in the loss, his third of the season.
Jason Jaffray returned to the lineup for St. John’s for the first time since suffering a season-ending injury last March in a game against the Norfolk Admirals. The captain, who had spinal fusion surgery during the summer, played on a line with Jason King and Max Macenauer recorded a shot on goal and did not shy away from the tough areas, even taking a hard hit from behind but skating away unharmed.
For head coach Keith McCambridge, Wednesday night’s defensive structure was improved from Tuesday, but the disappointment of the loss in Jaffray’s return left a sour taste.
“For a night that you’re on home ice here, you always have a sold-out crowd, to breathe no life into this crowd, with not being able to put a goal behind their goaltender, to be not be able to build off having your captain back, is not what we would have expected out of a night like tonight,” McCambridge told the media following the contest.
Bolduc, meanwhile, leaves St. John’s having shredded the IceCaps for six points (three goals, three assists) in the two game series. Overall, Portland scored 11 times in two games, showcasing their top-ranked offence. St. John’s, meanwhile, has scored more than three goals just once this season (in Tuesday’s 8-7 win) and had trouble generating scoring chances with a roster depleted by injuries. Six regulars were unavailable due to injury, including All-Star Paul Postma and forwards Patrice Cormier and Carl Klingberg.
Portland struck first for the second straight game when captain and leading scorer Bolduc finished off a great solo effort. Bolduc busted down the right wing, beating his man and cutting to the net hard before sneaking a shot through Pasquale’s pads to give his team a 1-0 lead.
After a quiet last half of the first period, Portland doubled its lead at 8:09 of the second on a goal by Brett Hextall. Paul Lane picked up the puck behind the IceCaps net and circled towards the corner before feeding a wide open Hextall in the slot. The son of former NHL goaltender Ron Hextall fired a laser that beat Pasquale to put the Pirates up 2-0.
Bolduc snuffed a comeback attempt and silenced the crowd early in the third with a shorthanded marker after a great pass off the boards by Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Swedish defenceman found Bolduc behind the IceCaps defence and the Portland captain raced in alone, slipping a shot by Pasquale on the far side to make it 3-0.
Chris Conner put the icing on the cake on a Portland power play with 12:15 left in the third. Conner backhanded a loose puck in front of the net that eluded Pasquale and crossed the goal line for game’s final tally.
The IceCaps fall to 3-3-0-0 after the series split with the Pirates, and sit in second place in the Atlantic Division through six games. Next up for St. John’s is a two-game set with the Norfolk Admirals this Saturday and Sunday at Mile One Centre.
Catch all the action with broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador or watch the live stream online at www.ahllive.com.
Photos (Jeff Parsons)