The St. John’s IceCaps got an early preview of what it will take to win in the post-season.
Jerome Samson scored the eventual winner as St. John’s defeated the visiting Springfield Falcons 3-1 on Saturday in American Hockey League action.
The IceCaps currently sit in fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Springfield, while the Falcons are just one of two clubs in the East to have already clinched a playoff spot.
“That is the kind of team, the kind of squad, we are going to have to beat in the playoffs down the road,” said Samson. “The kind of game we played, to be hanging around 3-0 and almost get the shutout, it shows a lot and builds up our confidence.”
Samson’s goal came on what he described as a “broken play” at 10:55 of the second period and gave St. John’s a two-goal advantage.
“I took a shot off a defenceman and then the puck was kind of scrambling and then (Brenden) Kichton ended up behind the net,” said Samson. “I got open on the side of the net and the goalie was kind of swimming in the crease a little bit, so that helped me. It was a huge goal for us, to get the two-goal lead.”
John Albert had a pair of goals for the IceCaps (42-22-6) while Tyler Beskorowany made 23 saves for the victory.
Patrick McNeill replied for the Falcons (44-21-6). Jeremy Smith stopped 28 shots in defeat.
Albert opened the scoring for the IceCaps when he picked up a loose puck off a rebound and buried a low wrist shot 4:34 into the first period.
Albert added his second, finishing off a 2-on-1 give-and-go with captain Jason Jaffray 15:13 into the second period.
McNeill put the Falcons on the board with a point shot that hit off a skate on the way through with 4:33 left in regulation time.
St. John’s head coach Keith McCambridge was satisfied with his club’s effort, especially in the defensive zone, just one night after allowing eight goals against in a loss to Springfield.
“I was impressed with the level we played at,” he said. “I thought our attention (towards) the areas we thought we had to get better at, (things) that we weren’t at our peak performance in with regards to last night— we were able to get offensive opportunities and keep pucks out of our net by bearing down and making sure we are strong in front of net.”