The St. John’s IceCaps and Wilkes-Barre Penguins finished up a bit of topsy-turvy at Mile One Centre Wednesday night, with the visiting Penguins taking a 3-1 decision that tied their best-of-seven AHL Eastern Conference semifinal at 1-1.
The series now switches to northeastern Pennsylvania for Games 3, 4 and 5 on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.
Wednesday’s score was a reverse of the previous night, when the IceCaps won the opener. So was just about everything else in the game.
In Game 1, it was St. John’s that stormed out of the dressing room and dominated the first period. On Wednesday, Wilkes-Barre charged out of the gates and midway through the opening frame, was outshooting the home side 10-0.
On Tuesday, Penguins’ goalie Brad Thiessen kept his team in the contest with a 34-save performance. In Game 2, it was St. John’s netminder Eddie Pasquale standing between a respectable score and a rout as he made 35 stops.
On Tuesday, Wilkes-Barre’s offence was frustrated by a stifling own-zone effort by St. John’s. In Wednesday’s rematch, it was the Penguins’ blueline that kept
St. John’s forwards “bogged down,” in the words of IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge.
“I thought (the Penguins) came out with the intensity we thought they would and I thought we didn’t have much push-back,” said McCambridge.
“They’re big and strong and the physical side of the game, they won that tonight ... pretty much every loose-puck battle.”
All of the Penguins’ goals came on special teams. Erik Tangradi opened the scoring with a power-play marker midway through the first period and Jason Williams got another in a man-up situation five minutes into the third.
A shorthanded tally by defenceman Joey Mormina 2 1/2 minutes into the third proved to be the game-winner for the Penguins.
In its own way, it was also the game-loser for the IceCaps, who had been in a position where a power-play goal would have given them a third-period lead in a game in which they had been decidely outplayed. Instead, Mormina delivered a bodyblow and Williams followed with an upper-cut just over two minutes later. St. John’s never recovered.
The IceCaps’ only goal came on a power-play late in the first period when Derek Meech’s shot from the blueline bounced off Ben Maxwell’s leg and past Thiessen, who finished with 22 saves.
Williams’ goal gives him points in seven consecutive playoff games, while the IceCaps’ Brock Trotter, who drew the other assist on Maxwell’s tally, is on a six-game post-season scoring streak.
However, the most impressive number Wednesday may not have been generated on the ice. The
50-50 payout was a record $20,400.