The St. John’s IceCaps turned in their best effort of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final, but their best wasn’t quite good enough Monday night as the IceCaps find themselves one game away from a four-game playoff sweep at the hands of the surging Norfolk Admirals.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie’s goal 1:37 into overtime sank the IceCaps 1-0 at Mile One Centre, and worse, gave the Admirals a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Norfolk can clinch a berth in the Calder Cup final with a win at 7:30 tonight.
It was the IceCaps’ most complete game of the Eastern final, following a 6-1 humiliation last Thursday in Norfolk and a 3-1 setback — a game which included an empty-net goal — Saturday night.
The IceCaps were better in just about every aspect of the game Monday, except for the fact their inability to solve Admirals’ netminder Dustin Tokarski is getting to be more than just a mild concern.
In three games, the IceCaps have fired 86 shots on Tokarski, but have managed only two goals.
Several of their top scorers during the year have gone dry. Jason King is five games and counting without registering a point, along with Brock Trotter, brought in late in the year to boost the team’s playoff chances. Since scoring twice in Game 7 of the second-round series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Aaron Gagnon has failed to pick up a point in three games and Patrice Cormier hasn’t scored in four games. Carl Klingberg was a healthy scratch last night, the second time in four games.
“We’re not generating scoring chances as much as we usually do,” King said, “and when we do, we’re just throwing pucks at the net. We had more shots tonight, but we still didn’t have a whole lot of great quality scoring chances.
“We have to test him more,” he said of Tokarski. “There’s no question. We have to score some goals to help ‘Squals’ out.”
‘Squals’ would be IceCaps’ netminded Eddie Pasquale, who was nothing short of brilliant last evening, stopping 26 shots in a first-star performance.
Since getting pulled in the second period after allowing four goals in Game 1, Pasquale has turned aside 61 of 65 Norfolk shots.
“He kept us in the whole game tonight,” said King. “It’s tough that we haven’t really given him the opportunity to get the wins that he deserves.
“We still haven’t shown the way I know we can play. But it has to start Tuesday. We have no other option.”
Meanwhile, the Toronto Marlies have a 2-1 lead on the Oklahoma City Barons in the Western Conference final. The Marlies got two goals from Matt Frattin Monday night for a 5-3 win at Toronto Ricoh Coliseum.
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