IceCaps focused on finishing off Crunch

Brendan McCarthy
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St. John’s can advance to second round with win over Syracuse in Game 4 tonight at Mile One

The St. John’s IceCaps’ Jason King and Aaron Gagnon (centre) battle the Syracuse Crunch’s Mathieu Carle (27) and Gabe Guentzel (left) try to gain position in front of Crunch goalie Iiro Tarkki in Game 3 of the teams’ best-of-five first-round AHL Calder Cup playoffs series Wednesday night at Mile One Centre in St. John’s. The IceCaps won 5-1 to take a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4 tonight, 7:30, at Mile One. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

It was Thursday morning and the day after the night before.    

Or as Keith McCambridge would prefer to have it, the day before tomorrow.

The St. John’s IceCaps were coming off Wednesday night’s big 5-1 win over the Syracuse Crunch in a charged atmosphere at Mile One Centre, where American Hockey League playoff hockey was featured for the first time in more than seven years. But to McCambridge and the IceCaps players, Wednesday’s game had simply become a checked-off item on a long to-do list.

“It’s a matter of refocusing and doing it quickly. We can’t dwell on enjoying the win,” said McCambridge after an optional Thursday practice at Mile One.

“You hear in the playoffs so much about keeping an even keel. Well, it goes both ways, an even keel when you don’t get success and just the same if you do.

“We got a win we needed, but we haven’t accomplished anything. If we start patting ourselves on the back, the next thing we know, this series will be tied up.

“It always has to be about the next game.”

That next game is tonight at Mile One (7:30 p.m., CJYQ 930 AM, Rogers Television), with Syracuse looking to extend the series to a fifth and deciding game on Saturday.

“We know they’re going to be desperate,” said IceCaps forward Ray Sawada about the Crunch. “We have to be desperate, too, desperate not to let this go beyond (tonight),

“They’ll be clawing to stay alive and we have to cut that out.”

Sawada and his teammates will be looking for more of what their fans delivered Wednesday night at Mile One, a loud, electric atmosphere. But while that environment may be a positive for the IceCaps, don’t count on it being a negative for the Crunch, at least according to Syracuse coach Trent Yawney.

“If you’re going to win in the playoffs, I’ve said this all along, you’re going to have to win on the road regardless of where you are,” said Yawney after Wednesday’s loss.

 “I don’t think that has any effect. In fact, I think it’s kind of cool for our young players to play in front of a crowd like that and I think it’s awesome for the league that this city supports the team like that.”

•••••

IceCaps’ rookie Carl Klingberg  appeared in seven playoffs games with Vastra Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League a couple of years ago, and recalls the same sort of boost on the oomph meter as what he’s experienced through three Calder Cup contests.

“Playoffs are playoffs. I don’t think it matters where,” said Klingberg. “The hits are bigger, there are some more cheap shots, the intensity increases. That’s the just the way it is wherever the playoffs are.”

But Klingberg said the Wednesday-night experience at Mile One was something new.

“The crowd was good then (during his SEL days), but not like this, so loud ... people chanting all the time ‘Eddie! Eddie!’” said Klingberg, referring to the fans’ acknowledgement of IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasquale’s 40-save, first-star performance in Game 3.

“They showed why Canada is the best hockey country in the world”

•••••

Notes: Klingberg had 15 goals in the regular season, but hasn’t scored since March 6. That’s a 17-game drought. “If I think too much about that, it’s going to be worse,” he said. “I’m just thinking about helping the team in whatever way I can, tracking back, skating hard and I think all of a sudden, it (a goal) will happen again.” ... Through the first three games of their series with the Crunch, the IceCaps are being led by Aaron Gagnon (three goals, four points, plus-5) and Derek Meech (2-2-4, plus-4). Dan Sexton tops Syracuse with four points (1-3) ... Two other AHL Eastern Conference quarter-finals continue tonight. In Manchester, N.H., the Monarchs host the Norfolk Admirals, with the Admirals leading 2-1, while in Hershey, Pa., the Bears will look to hold off the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who also hold a 2-1 series lead ...

bmcc@thetelegram.com

Twitter@telybrendan

Organizations: IceCaps, American Hockey League, Swedish Elite League Rogers Television Monarchs

Geographic location: Syracuse, Canada, Manchester, N.H. Hershey Wilkes-Barre

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