A critically-timed faceoff win by the opposition and a bad bounce off a skate proved to be the difference as the St. John's IceCaps (16-13-3) lost their final game of 2013 Tuesday, dropping a 4-2 American Hockey League decision to the Springfield Falcons in western Massachusetts.
On New Year's Eve afternoon, the Falcons (22-5-5), owners of the best winning percentage (.754) in the entire AHL, got the winning goal 1:18 into the third period, credited to J.F. Jacques after an attempted pass by Springfield veteran centre Darryl Boyce went in off Jacques' foot and past IceCaps' netminder Eddie Pasquale.
Springfield had tied the game at 2-2 with a couple of seconds left in the second period and just three ticks after St. John's defenceman Zach Redmond had been sent off for roughing. The Falcons wasted no time on the ensuing power play, with Boyce winning the faceoff and getting the puck onto the stick of team-leading scorer Jonathan Marchessault, who snapped it into the St. John's net.
Goals by Kyle McKinnon, his third of the season, and Kael Mouillierat, with his seventh, had given the IceCaps a 2-1 lead before the Marchessault tally.
Lukas Sedlak, in the first period, and Andrew Joudrey, with an insurance marker witha couple of minutes left in the game, also scored for Springfield, the farm team of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The IceCaps now prepare for an eight-game homestand, beginning Saturday night at Mile One Centre, where they host the Portland Pirates in the first game of what will be a three-game series that continues Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night. St. John's will want to make the most of this home stay - its longest of the season - especially considering it was holding on to the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference heading into Wednesday's action. The IceCaps were a point ahead of the ninth-place Adirondack Phantoms, but the Phantoms were playing the Hershey Bears Wednesday night and had a chance to vault over St. John's.