IceCaps stymied by Holtby, Bears
St. John’s drops fourth straight with 2-1 loss to Hershey
ST. JOHN’S, NL – The St. John’s IceCaps lost their fourth consecutive game with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Hershey Bears Tuesday night at Mile One Centre.
Braden Holtby made 32 saves, including several big stops in the final minutes with the IceCaps’ net empty, to pick up the win for Hershey. Zach Hamill and Jeff Taffe had two assists each while Tomas Kundratek scored the winning goal early in the third period. Zach Redmond scored the lone goal for St. John’s, while Mark Dekanich played a strong game between the pipes, making 20 saves but ultimately getting tagged with the loss.
The North Vancouver native was at his best early in the first with the teams scoreless. Dekanich made the IceCaps’ save of the season thus far with a brilliant diving stop on Hamill, who had an open net and a chance to put the Bears on the scoreboard.
Hershey got on the board first midway through the opening period on a 5-on-3 man advantage. Hamill worked the puck down low to Taffe, who fired a quick backdoor pass across the crease to a wide open Jon DiSalvatore, and the Bangor, ME native one-timed the puck into the yawning cage to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
While the first period brought no additional offence, it featured a couple of spirited tilts. First, Kevin Clark dropped the gloves with T.J. Syner, then less than a minute later Ray Sawada and Patrick Wellar came to blows. Sawada in particular, was a physical force all night for the IceCaps.
The IceCaps played a solid second frame, outshooting the Bears 10-2 and tying the game up on a power play goal of their own at the 12:32 mark. Already up one man after Wellar took an interference minor, the IceCaps converted on a 6-on-4 after a delayed penalty to Garrett Mitchell. Paul Postma’s shot from the point was stopped by Holtby but Redmond pounced on the loose puck and banged home his team-leading seventh goal of the season to tie things at one heading into the third.
Hershey took the lead early in the final frame on another power play. Hamill fed Kundratek at the point and the big defenceman one-timed a blistering shot that beat Dekanich on the blocker side to put the Bears in front 2-1.
St. John’s pressed hard at the end on a 6-on-4 opportunity after Boyd Kane was whistled for roughing with 1:33 left but Holtby was equal to the task. The Bears’ netminder made a huge glove save on Redmond with 10 seconds to preserve the victory.
The IceCaps went 1-for-7 on the power play while the Bears scored twice on six chances with the man advantage.
The two clubs meet again for the finale of their two-game series at Mile One Centre Wednesday night.
Catch all the action with broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador, or watch online at www.ahllive.com. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. with the pregame show getting underway at 7:00 (all times Newfoundland).
The fourth consecutive loss equals the longest losing streak in franchise history, set last season from Mar. 17 to Mar. 23. St. John’s also equalled its mark for most home losses in a row with three, which occurred last December, also from the 7th to the 11th… F Ray Sawada and D Paul Postma extended their point streaks to four games with their assists in the second period… D Zach Redmond has recorded a point in three straight games (1G, 3A)… G Mark Dekanich has lost four straight decisions but has not allowed more than three goals in any of those starts… Tuesday marked the 53rd consecutive sellout at Mile One Centre, one game shy of the second longest sellout streak in AHL history, set by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Photos (Jeff Parsons)