The Syracuse Crunch got three unanswered, unassisted goals in the third period to defeat the St. John's IceCaps 5-2 in Game 1 of the three-game Mary's Cup American Hockey League exhibition series Thursday night at Mile One Centre.
Tanner Richard, Cedric Paquette, with his second of the night, and Vladimir Namestnikov had the goals in the final frame for the defending Eastern Conference champion Crunch, who like the IceCaps, were playing their first contest of the preseason.
Richard's goal at 8:16 of the third - the game-winner - came on a turnover by St. John's forward Jerome Samson, who had his pass gobbled up by the Syracuse rookie, who raced into the St. John's end ahead of defenceman Brenden Kichton and beat IceCaps' goalie Michael Hutchinson with a well-placed shot to the glove side.
Paquette's second also came on a St. John's turnover, this time by Carl Klingberg and in the IceCaps side of the centre line.
Namestnikov's tally came into an empty net, a gift of a different sort since the Crunch centre gained the puck after St. John's defenceman Will O'Neill, the last man back, had to discard a broken stick and in doing so gave up the puck.
Mike Witkowski had the other goal for the Crunch, the AHL farm team of the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Cody Sol, on a second-period power play, and Kael Mouillierat, in the waning seconds of the middle frame, scored for St. John's.
Official attendance tonight is is 4,391 meaning Mile One was just over two-thirds full.
Game 2 of the tourney is Saturday (5 p.m.) at the Clarenville Events Centre, while it wraps up Sunday afternoon (4 p.m.) at Mile One. All games are being carried on 930 CJYQ and online through the IceCaps' website (stjohnsicecaps.com).
: Thursday's Molson Canadian three stars: 1. Cedric Paquette, Syr. 2. Kael Mouillierat, SJs, 3. Tanner Richard, Syr. ... IceCaps' broadcaster Brian Rogers' choice as the Mary Brown's hardest-working player: new forward Blair Riley ... Jerome Samson and Adam Lowry, on a line with captain Jason Jaffray, both finished minus-three, although three players of them were on the ice for the empty-netter ... No St. John's player finished with a plus rating ... Today is the last day that IceCaps season-ticket holder can reserve their seats for the Ahl All-Star Classic, to be held at Mile One Centre Feb. 11 to 12. They can do so by contacting the Mile One Centre box office ...