By Robin Short
Telegram Sports Editor
The IceCaps dropped below the .500 mark once again this season, and were swept on home ice for the first time as the Springfield Falcons dusted off St. John’s 4-2 in an American Hockey League game Saturday night at Mile One Centre.
The IceCaps, 11-12-0-1, have now lost three straight games. They dropped the Falcons series-opener 5-3 Friday night.
Once again, it was the second period that killed St. John’s, as the Falcons outscored their hosts 3-1 in the middle frame.
The IceCaps, who allowed three unanswered second-period goals Friday night, have been outscored 30-15 in the middle stanza this year.
Ryan Johansen, in front of several extended family members, had a goal and two assists, and Curtis McElhinney stopped 47 shots as the Falcons improved to an Eastern Conference leading 14-4-1-3.
Johansen, whose mother hails from Grand Bank, was greeted with a loud applause as he took a post-game twirl on the ice as the game’s second star.
But the big star was McElhinney, who boosted his league-leading record to 13-2-2.
Matt Calvert, Tomas Kubalik, Cam Atkinson and Johansen, into an empty net, scored for the Falcons. Maxime Macenauer and Paul Postma replied.
Atkinson is on fire of late, with nine points in the last five games. Four points came at the expense of the IceCaps Friday.
Following a scoreless first period, in which St. John’s outshot Springfield 13-10, it was the Falcons striking first blood in the second when Calvert potted his seventh of the year just 24 seconds in.
Calvert took a centering pass from Johansen, who was behind the net, and swatted a loose puck through a maze of legs past Mark Dekanich.
Kubalik staked the Falcons to a 2-0 lead five minutes later, when he redirected a Tim Erixon shot from the blueline past a screened St. John’s netminder.
Macenauer gave the IceCaps and the sell-out crowd of 6,287 a lift at the eight-minute mark, when he banged in a loose puck past McElhinney in a goalmouth scramble with St. John’s enjoying a power play.
But it was Atkinson who restored the Falcons lead when he took a pass from Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and beat Dekanich.
Audy-Marchessault picked up a loose puck following a St. John’s turnover and fed Atkinson.
The Falcons have been lights-out this season when leading after 40 minutes, posting a perfect 11-0 record.
Springfield has outscored the opposition 28-19 in the middle frame this year.
Postma drew the IceCaps to within one goal at 14:06 of the third period, blasting a shot from the point past McElhinney while St. John’s enjoyed a power play.
But Johansen dashed any hopes of a St. John’s comeback with his empty netter with 26 seconds remaining in regulation time.
The IceCaps regroup Sunday and Monday before taking on the Hershey Bears Tuesday and Wednesday at Mile One Centre.