© — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The St. John's IceCaps' Adam Lowry (second from left) gets tangled up with the Syracuse Crunch's Cedric Paquette in front of netminder Cedrick Desjardins during the teams' American Hockey League game Wednesday night at Mile One Centre. The IceCaps won 5-1, sweepting a visiting team for the first time this season following Tuesday night's 6-2 win.
MacKinnon scores twice, O'Dell has three helpers as St. John's defeats Syracuse 5-1 at Mile One
In their final game on home ice before the Christmas break, the St. John’s IceCaps managed to spread some holiday cheer Wednesday night, delivering to the 6,287 faithful on hand at Mile One Centre their first home ice series sweep this season.
Kyle MacKinnon scored his first two goals of the season, and Eric O’Dell maintained his torrid scoring pace with three assists as the IceCaps dumped the Syracuse Crunch 5-1.
The IceCaps beat the Crunch 6-2 Tuesday night.
Much had been said and written about the IceCaps’ inability to take two games from visiting teams this season — St. John’s registered four splits, and lost two of three games via shootout in a three-game series with Worcester — so now those concerns can be put to rest.
“Our goal is to get a sweep every series,” said MacKinnon, the Walnut, Calif., native who spent the past two seasons with the Providence Bruins, “and we kind of let some teams off the hook this year.
“I don’t think there was a lot that had to be said (in the locker room). Everybody knew the situation. But I don’t think we panicked or placed a huge weight on our shoulders. For whatever reason, we were unable to put two wins together at home.
“But I think we’re starting to form an identity, and we knew sooner or later we’d string a few (wins) together.”
The win was the IceCaps’ fourth in the past five games, and seventh in their last 10. Their record improves to 14-10-1-2 in the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference.
Brenden Kichton, Zach Redmond and Jason Jaffray also scored for the IceCaps. Philip-Michael Devos replied for the Crunch, who lost for the fourth straight time.
For St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge, it wasn’t so much the sweep that was a relief, but the fact his charges put together another solid effort after a big win Tuesday night.
“But obviously, you want to win on home ice and we realize we haven’t won back-to-back games,” he said. “But we’ve been there every single game.
“I look back to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton series (5-0 IceCaps win and 3-0 loss), the shootout losses to Worcester, the Manchester series (3-2 IceCaps win, 5-3 loss) … we were in all those games.
“But we were rewarded tonight … a real, good solid effort.”
Kichton opened scoring at 12:47 of the first period, waltzing from the corner and firing a backhander over Cedric Desjardins’ glove, the fifth goal of the year for the rookie defenceman.
Redmond got what turned out to be the winner 2:37 into the second, labelling a quick wrist from the faceoff circle under the crossbar.
For Redmond, it was his fourth goal — to go with six assists — in nine games.
But the prettiest goal of the night was reserved for Jaffray, who forced a turnover at the Syracuse blueline, scooped up the loose puck and turned the Crunch defenceman inside out before swatting the puck past Desjardins for his ninth goal as he was falling to the ice.
But despite the pair of victories, and success streak St. John’s is currently enjoying, McCambridge isn’t about to start making plans for a playoff drive just yet.
“I’m not going to read anything into it,” he said of the mid-week sweep. “I’ll just read it as a win tonight and we’ll build off that.
“You want to be positive and ensure the details are in your game and guys realize how they have to play. I thought that was there tonight.”
The IceCaps fired 36 shots at Desjardins. Eddie Pasquale made 25 saves for his 11th victory.
The IceCaps play two more games before Christmas, in Hamilton, Ont. and Toronto Saturday and Sunday.
Then they enjoy an 11-day Christmas break.
NOTES: The Molson-Coors three stars of the game were 1. Kyle MacKinnon 2. Eric O’Dell 3. Jason Jaffray … The Mary Brown’s hardest working IceCap was Jerome Samson … D Julian Melchiori sat his fourth straight game due to injury. He’s listed as day-to-day but likely won’t play in Ontario … With Kyle MacKinnon, Ryan Schnell and Kris Fredheim scoring their first goals as IceCaps, only Jordan Hill and Cody Lampl have yet to dent the twine … It might have been an announced sellout Wednesday night, but there were more than a couple of empty seats at Mile One Centre ...