For St. John’s IceCaps hockey fans, it could be said just about everything about Friday night’s American Hockey League game at Mile One Centre was entertaining ... except the final score.
The IceCaps played one of their best home games of the season and led 2-0 at one point, but it was the Syracuse Crunch who ended up with a 3-2 win in a shootout.
Brett Connolly, a British Columbia native whose parents are from the Bay St. George area of Newfoundland, was the only one of 10 players to score in the shootout, squeezing a shot under Eddie Pasquale, ruining what had been a solid performance by the St. John’s goalie and putting an end to what had been a high-paced contest from the opening faceoff.
Captain Jason Jaffray, with a goal in the last minute of the opening frame, and Patrice Cormier, with a deflection during a power-play early in the second, staked the IceCaps (23-31-5) to that 2-0 lead. Tyler Johnson, with his league leading 30th goal later in the middle frame, and Dana Tyrell, midway through the third, scored for the Crunch (35-17-7). The result ended a four-game losing streak for the Tampa Bay Lightning farm team, which retained at least a tie for first place overall in the AHL.
Pasquale had 29 saves, while Riku Helenius of the Crunch made 33 stops.
The two teams square off again 7:30 p.m. today at Mile One.
The IceCaps weren’t able to maintain their highest-gear pace into the second half of the game, but Pasquale picked up with the slack with a number of key stops. Still, that was not enough to keep the Crunch from knotting the score, which happened midway through the third when Dana Tyrell rifled a shot past a sprawling Pasquale, whose exploits to that point had many thinking he had made the save since the puck came out so quickly.
Both teams had power-play opportunities in overtime. The Crunch had a full two minutes to start OT, while St. John's had 51 seconds at the end of the extra frame. The IceCaps' Eric O'Dell had the best chance to end it, but couldn't stuff the puck past Helenius just before the buzzer sounded.
The IceCaps saw forwards John Albert and Max Macenauer return from injuries, while defenceman Josh Godfrey made his first start for St. John’s after being brought in from Las Vegas of the ECHL ... Friday's Coors Light three stars were 1. Jaffray 2. Johnson 3. Connolly, while Cormier was the choice as Mary Browns hardest-working IceCap ... The IceCaps saw their shootout record fall to 1-3 on the season... A steady stream of mostly-young fans made their way to the Team Telegram FanZone to have their shots clocked on a speed gun. Video of the event will be available on The Telegram's website (thetelegram.com) early next week.