The fans made it a whiteout. Eddie Pasquale came close to making it a whitewash.
Pasquale made 40 saves in a first-star performance as the St. John’s IceCaps downed the Syracuse Crunch 5-1 Wednesday night at Mile One Centre to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five opening-round American Hockey League playoff series.
The IceCaps can wrap things up with a win Friday night at Mile One. The Crunch will look to force a Game 5 that would be played in St. John’s Saturday.
Wednesday’s game was played before the 39th consecutive full house at Mile One, with more than three-quarters of the nearly 6,300 fans wearing white in response to a “whiteout” request from the IceCaps.
But it was the noise they created that mostly seemed to energize the home side.
“That was the best,” said Pasquale. “I mean, we were up for the game, but the fans added something to it and I think we fed off that.
“It was really loud. Sometimes, it was too loud to think.”
But apparently not too loud to make saves or for Pasquale’s teammates to produce a balanced scoring attack, with St. John’s getting goals from five different players.
Patrice Cormier, Derek Meech, Brock Trotter, John Albert and Ben Maxwell scored for the IceCaps, who fired 38 shots at Syracuse netminder Iiro Tarkki.
Dan Sexton had the lone marker for the Crunch.
The goals by Cormier and Trotter came on the power play, with Cormier opening the scoring on a five-on-three advantage midway through the first period. Sexton tied it two minutes later, but St. John’s regained a lead it wouldn’t relinquish before the end of the opening period when Meech tallied unassisted.
Meech and fellow defenceman Arturs Kulda, who had two assists on the night, each finished with two points.
The teams split the opening games of the series last weekend in Syracuse, N.Y., with St. John’s prevailing 3-2 in Friday’s opener and the Crunch responding with a 4-3 victory the next night.