IceCaps stymied by Admirals
Photo by John Wright
By Chris Doyle
NORFOLK, VA – The St. John’s IceCaps fell 3-1 to the Norfolk Admirals in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Saturday night at Scope Arena. The Admirals lead the best-of-seven series 2-0.
Dustin Tokarski made 30 saves and Alexandre Picard scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, to give the Admirals a pair of victories on home ice. Eddie Pasquale bounced back after a rough outing in Game 1 to stop 35-of-37 shots and keep the IceCaps hanging around until the final minute. John Albert scored the lone goal for St. John’s, which has found the back of the net just twice in the first two games of the series.
Despite a much better effort, the IceCaps were stymied offensively by a disruptive Admirals team intent on getting in the shooting lanes and winning each and every puck battle. The IceCaps went 0-for-5 on the power play and managed just seven shots in the final frame.
The game didn’t start out well for the IceCaps, as Norfolk got a goal from Richard Panik just 51 seconds into the game on the Admirals’ first shot on goal. Panik wired a shot from just inside the blueline that Pasquale said he “didn’t track real well.” Then Panik rang a second shot off the post behind Pasquale. However the goalie settled in and played a much stronger game than Game 1.
“I didn’t think he was shaky in Game 1; I thought he was fine,” McCambridge said of his goalie. “The guys in front of him aren’t playing that well in Game 1 so you look to get him out of there. Tonight I thought he was real strong. He made key saves and was real strong back there and gave us a chance to win.”
The series now shifts to St. John’s for games three and four, and if necessary, game five. It’s something the head coach said his club is looking forward to – playing at Mile One.
“This is a good team we’re playing,” McCambridge said. “They’re good on their home ice. We feel we’re strong on our home ice in the playoffs also. We look to get back there and get a win in this series. I thought there were some real positives we can take.
“We knew our opponent was going to be strong and they’re all that. Our game was at a better level compared to Game 1 here. That was more of a type of game we thought we’d be facing; obviously not the result we wanted. We expect to have to battle for every game and every inch and we expect that for Game 3.”
Norfolk got things started just 51 seconds after the opening faceoff on the team’s first shot of the game. Evan Oberg fed Richard Panik just over the blueline and his one-timer beat Pasquale on the glove side to give the home team an early 1-0 advantage.
The IceCaps were being outshot 10-4 at one point in the first but started getting some chances late in the frame, finishing the period down 1-0 and trailing 14-13 in the shots department.
In the second, St. John’s came to life with Albert’s third goal of the playoffs 1:51 into the period. Just off a faceoff in the Admirals’ zone, Paul Postma fired a shot at the net from the point and an untouched Albert banged home the tying goal on the backhand to make it a 1-1 game.
The goal seemed to give the IceCaps some life, which at one point was outshooting Norfolk after a flurry of chances early in the frame.
Norfolk eventually retook the momentum late in the period when it capitalized on a fortuitous bounce off the end boards. Mike Kostka’s shot from the right side missed the net and caromed off a stanchion right to Picard at the left side, leaving Pasquale helpless as the Admirals’ winger fired the puck into the open cage for a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
St. John’s could not get much offence going in the final period as the Admirals clamped down defensively. Picard provided the clincher with less than a minute to go in regulation when he raced in alone and scored into the empty net to make it 3-1.
The scene shifts to St. John’s for Games 3 and 4 Monday and Tuesday, as the IceCaps look to get back in the series on home ice. Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on the radio at 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador. Fans can see the games live on Rogers TV and streaming online at www.ahllive.com. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with the pregame show hitting the airwaves at 7:00 p.m. (all times Newfoundland).
Fans can also head down to Mile One Centre from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. for a special tailgate party featuring the Wonderbolt Circus, music from Chris Ryan and Anthony McDonald, free face painting and much more.
St. John’s was a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, improving to 8-for-10 in the series….The IceCaps drop to 3-4 on the road in the playoffs….Saturday’s attendance was 6,249, a record for a playoff game at Scope Arena in Norfolk….St. John’s was outshot for the ninth time this postseason; the team’s record in those contests is 4-5….The IceCaps have trailed after each period so far this series….Eric O’Dell and Mark Scheifele were inserted into the lineup, replacing Marco Rosa and Kevin Clark. Arturs Kulda returned to the lineup, replacing Brett Festerling. Spencer Machacek did not dress for the second consecutive game.