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It’s now a best-of-three at Mile One Posted by IceCaps on

Photo courtesy Syracuse Crunch

IceCaps, Crunch split opening games of series in Syracuse; Game 3 here on Wednesday

Published on April 23, 2012
Robin Short, The Telegram

Keith McCambridge won’t go so far as to say he is satisfied with his team’s split in its first two games of the first round in the American Hockey League’s post season, but the St. John’s coach admits the IceCaps accomplished the goal of winning at least one playoff game on the road.

“In the playoffs, you always try to steal one in the other team’s building,” McCambridge said Sunday, as the IceCaps were making their way back from Syracuse, N.Y., where St. John’s won Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final 3-2 Friday before dropping a 4-3 decision to the Crunch Saturday night.

“You’re never satisfied with a split. But the main thing is take one and we accomplished that.”

The IceCaps and Crunch resume their best-of-five series at Mile One Centre this week, with Game 3 set for 7:30 Wednesday night and Game 4 going 7:30 p.m. Friday. If a Game 5 is required, it will go 7:30 Saturday night. All games can be heard on 930AM and, and viewed on Rogers TV.

On Friday, Jason King scored the game-winner with 1:22 left in regulation time as the IceCaps secured the all-important first win, a victory even more imperative in the three-out-of-five first round. Saturday, however, it was the Crunch scoring the game’s final goal, when a pass from high-scoring Syracuse forward Kyle Palmieri bounced off the skate of teammate Brandon McMillan and past IceCaps’ goalie Eddie Pasquale as the Crunch enjoyed a power play.

“I actually liked us better in the second game than the first,” McCambridge said.

“In the first game, I thought we got better as we went on and by the third, we played a little better.

“In the second game, we did some good things in areas of the game that we had stressed. But Syracuse has a good team. They’re playing some real good hockey.”

John Mitchell, Mark Bell and Matt Clark also scored for the Crunch Saturday. Replying for St. John’s was Aaron Gagnon, with a pair of goals, and Patrice Cormier.

St. John’s opened scoring when Gagnon netted the first of his two goals just 41 seconds after the opening faceoff. Bell, the NHL veteran of 450 big league games, drew Syracuse even at 11:03 of the first period.

Clark and Mitchell scored goals within a 1:40 span in the second period before Cormier closed the gap to a goal at the 4:18 mark, with Postma drawing another assist, along with Spencer Machacek.

Gagnon tied the game 46 seconds into the third period on the power play, before McMillan’s tally at 12:25 of the third, with Syracuse enjoying the man advantage compliments of Brett Festerling’s tripping minor.

“We got ourselves into some penalty trouble and we were lucky enough to kill off one,” said McCambridge, referring to John Albert’s hooking minor.

“But at the end, we dug ourselves a hole. We were flirting with danger, getting away with killing off the first penalty, but the next one got us.”

The IceCaps were nabbed for eight minor penalties ( to the Crunch’s five) by the two-man refereeing crew of Mark Lemelin and Chris Ciamaga.

“Calls are calls,” McCambridge said. “Every team has to deal with them.”

One stat column in which Syracuse dominated was the shot clock, as the Crunch outshot their guests 77-50 through the two games.

But IceCaps’ rookie Pasquale was equal to the task, making a combined 71 saves through 120 minutes of play.

“I thought he was the difference in the first game,” said McCambridge of his goalie who turned aside 35 shots. “Last night, he gave us a chance to win with some nice saves. He hasn’t shown any rookie nerves.”

According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, rookie forward Peter Holland, the Crunch’s second-leading point-getter this season (23-37-60), is making the trip to St. John’s. Holland, the Anaheim Ducks’ first-round draft pick in 2009 (15th overall) suffered a concussion April 14 and didn’t play in the first two games of the series.


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