St. Johnâs can advance to second round with win over Syracuse in Game 4 tonight atâMile One
The St. JohnâsâIceCapsâ Jason King and AaronâGagnon (centre) battle the Syracuse Crunchâs Mathieu Carle (27) and Gabe Guentzel (left) try to gain position in front of Crunch goalie Iiro Tarkki in Game 3 of the teamsâ best-of-five first-round AHL Calder Cupâplayoffs series Wednesday night at Mile One Centre inâSt. Johnâs.âThe IceCaps won 5-1 to take a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4 tonight, 7:30, at Mile One. â Photo byâKeithâGosse/TheâTelegram
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. Johnâs IceCaps were coming off Wednesday nightâs 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, Wednesdayâs game had simply become a checked-off item on a long to-do list.
âItâs a matter of refocusing and doing it quickly. We canât dwell on enjoying the win,â said McCambridge after an optional Thursday practice at Mile One.
âYou hear in the playoffs so much about keeping an even keel. Well, it goes both ways, an even keel when you donât get success and just the same if you do.
âWe got a win we needed, but we havenât accomplished anything. If we start patting ourselves on the back, the next thing we know, this series will be tied up.
âIt always has to be about the next game.â
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.
âWe know theyâre going to be desperate,â said IceCaps forward Ray Sawada about the Crunch. âWe have to be desperate, too, desperate not to let this go beyond (tonight),
âTheyâll be clawing to stay alive and we have to cut that out.â
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, donât count on it being a negative for the Crunch, at least according to Syracuse coach Trent Yawney.
âIf youâre going to win in the playoffs, Iâve said this all along, youâre going to have to win on the road regardless of where you are,â said Yawney after Wednesdayâs loss.
âI donât think that has any effect. In fact, I think itâs kind of cool for our young players to play in front of a crowd like that and I think itâs awesome for the league that this city supports the team like that.â
IceCapsâ 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 heâs experienced through three Calder Cup contests.
âPlayoffs are playoffs. I donât think it matters where,â said Klingberg. âThe hits are bigger, there are some more cheap shots, the intensity increases. Thatâs the just the way it is wherever the playoffs are.â
But Klingberg said the Wednesday-night experience at Mile One was something new.
âThe crowd was good then (during his SEL days), but not like this, so loud ... people chanting all the time âEddie! Eddie!ââ said Klingberg, referring to the fansâ acknowledgement of IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasqualeâs 40-save, first-star performance in Game 3.
âThey showed why Canada is the best hockey country in the worldâ
Notes: Klingberg had 15 goals in the regular season, but hasnât scored since March 6. Thatâs a 17-game drought. âIf I think too much about that, itâs going to be worse,â he said. âIâm 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.â ... 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 ...