© — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
St. John’s IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasquale turns aside a shot as the Toronto Marlies’ Peter Holland (left) looks for a rebound during the teams’ American Hockey League game Saturday night at Mile One Centre. At right is the IceCaps’ Cody Lampl. St. John’s gave up a two-goal, third-period lead but went on to collect a 5-4 shootout win for a two-game split with the Marlies.
St. John’s keeps eight-game lose one, win one streak intact by beating Toronto in shootout
Just when you were about to write them off again Saturday night as minnows in a sea of piranhas, another outcome all but inevitable before the players have barely broken a sweat, the St. John’s IceCaps found a way to surprise us again.
Not a shocker, one supposes, given fickleness has been the IceCaps’ modus operandi this season.
As Tom Hanks said of the chocolates in Forrest Gump, you never really know what to expect of the IceCaps.
Consider Friday night, Game 1 of the two-game series with the Toronto Marlies, the former St. John’s Maple Leafs making their only appearance at Mile One this season.
Toronto netted two goals three minutes in, and pretty much toyed with the IceCaps the rest of the way, until St. John’s mounted a late spirited comeback, only to fall short 3-2 at the end of the evening.
So what could we expect St. John’s Saturday? A quick burst from the starting gate, perhaps?
The Marlies had other ideas. This time, they scored 23 seconds in.
But St. John’s, to its credit, refused to fold and, in fact, took the game to Toronto, coming away with a well-earned 5-4 shootout win.
That’s one way to look at it. Did we mention the IceCaps squandered a two-goal, third-period lead?
“Yeah, it’s tough to give up a two-goal lead at the end, but we won the game, got the two points,” said Patrice Cormier, one of the IceCaps’ goal scorers.
“Me and a couple of the guys were just talking,” he said outside the IceCaps’ locker room post game, “to beat this (Marlies) team, you have to be at your best. They come hard night in, night out. They beat everyone, at home and on the road.
“But tonight, we were at our best. We played a smart game, had good breakouts. We didn’t do that last night, but we did a lot better tonight.”
Saturday’s victory kept the IceCaps’ eight-game string of win one, lose one intact.
Funny bunch, though, these IceCaps. For as bad as they looked for two periods Friday, they looked pretty darn good for 40 minutes Saturday.
And that’s without Zach Redmond, recalled to Winnipeg Friday morning, and Eric O’Dell, who potted his first goal for the Jets Saturday night.
“I thought we played a real, good solid game,” said IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge. “We had good energy. We go down one and we respond quickly with three.
“And it was one of our more physical games of the season.”
Physical indeed. The game featured five fights as the bigger Marlies tried to push their back into Saturday’s game.
But the smaller IceCaps, to their credit, held the fort.
“When you look at Toronto, you can see it has Brian Burke’s pedigree in there,” McCambridge said of the former Maple Leafs’ GM, who has a fondness for bigger players. “A lot of those guys were drafted by him, big strong guys.
“But I liked the way we responded. Friday night, they were winning all the loose puck battles but we responded tonight well. We were physical, played big and were able to have some pushback against a large bodied team.”
Jerome Samson, Kael Mouillierat and J.C. Lipon scored for the IceCaps in the shootout. Lipon also had an assist in regulation time and a fight, giving him a quasi Gordie Howe hat trick.
Only Spencer Abbott was able to beat Eddie Pasquale in the shootout.
In regulation time, Adam Lowry scored his fifth and sixth goals on the year for the IceCaps. Singles came from Cormier and Carl Klingberg. Peter Holland had a pair for the Marlies, while Wade MacLeod and T.J. Brennan, the former St. John’s Fog Devils’ junior player, netted singles.
After MacLeod scored 23 seconds in, Lowry breathed new life into the IceCaps and their 6,287 faithful, beating Drew MacIntyre just over three minutes later, and then netted the go-ahead goal with 2:43 remaining in the first period.
Cormier staked the IceCaps to a 3-1 lead 44 seconds into the second period with his fourth goal on the year. Holland and Klingberg exchanged goals to make it 4-2, but then the Marlies got goals from Brennan and Holland — the latter a high, weak shot Pasquale probably should have stopped — to force overtime.
“Yes and no,” veteran Andrew Gordon said when asked if the IceCaps’ bench deflated when Holland’s cheapie eluded Pasquale for the tying goal. “A little bit of panic sets in for a minute or two, but you want to play your game and revert back to what makes you successful.
“At the end of the day, things are going to happen. It’s a hockey game and leads transfer back and forth. Teams are not going to quit, not at this level or any level in pro hockey.
“I’m sure Eddie wants that fourth one back but at the end of the day he played big when we needed him. To get those two points erases the memory a little bit.”
This weekend, the Manchester Monarchs come to town for a three-game series at Mile One (Friday, Saturday and Monday). The IceCaps are 3-2 against the Monarchs this season.