Wilkes-Barre, Pa.—The St. John’s IceCaps and Wilkes-Barre Penguins played a whole lot of hockey in Pennsylvania this week, and now they’re going to play a little more at Mile One Centre.
Simon Despres’ goal at 12:08 of the second overtime period gave the Penguins a 3-2 win at the Mohegan Sun Arena Tuesday night, keeping Wilkes-Barre’s season alive and moving their best-of-seven AHL Eastern Conference semifinal back to St. John’s for Game 6 Friday.
St. John’s leads the series 3-2 after a six-day, three-game stay in Wilkes-Barre that saw every contest go to extra time.
The IceCaps won 2-1 Saturday and 3-2 Sunday in games decided in the first OT period.
If a Game 7 is necessary, it will be played Saturday at Mile One.
“It’s disappointing to have it end that way, but we didn’t come up with our best effort, either, which is a good thing,” said St. John’s winger Jason King, who scored the first goal of Tuesday’s game.
“We all know we could play better. The first two periods (weren’t of) the quality we could play, but we still gave ourselves a chance to win and Squals held us in there at the end.”
“Squals” is IceCaps goaltender Eddie Pasquale, who turned in another stellar effort, making 42 saves, but he couldn’t prevent Despres, a defenceman, from scoring on a backhand after getting his stick on his own rebound.
“(The first shot) hit my pad and I didn’t see where it went. I guess it was rolling and he just knocked it in the far side.”
Paul Thompson, in the second period, and Alex Grant, early in the third, also scored for the Penguins, who outshot St. John’s 45-29.
Paul Postma had the other goal for St. John’s, collecting his first of the playoffs with a blast from the point during a power play. It couldn’t have been more different than King’s first-period marker, which came on a 140-foot slow-sliding feed towards the Penguins’ end. Wilkes-Barre goalie Brad Thiessen came out to play the puck with his stick, but whiffed on it and it kept going into the net.
The IceCaps thought they went up 2-0 later in the first period when Maxime Macenauer drove towards the Penguins goal and the puck went in. The referee behind the net ruled it was a goal, but after a committee meeting of the two referees and two linesmen, it was ruled Macenauer had used a kicking motion to propel the puck over the line.
King, the defacto St. John’s captain because of Jason Jaffray’s season-ending injury, was informed that one of the linesmen had insisted Macenauer had kicked the puck — hence the reverse decision.
Macenauer said he had indeed moved the puck with his foot, but that it had hit his stick before entering the net.
St. John’s head coach Keith McCambridge said he thought it was a “poor call,” but that “it is what it is.”
“The good thing is that we won two out of three down here and we’re going home to play in front of our own fans,” Kin said.