St. John’s defeats Norfolk Admirals to reach AHL Eastern conference final
Andrew Gordon and Ben Chiarot, two of the St. John’s IceCaps’ better performers in these 2014 Calder Cup playoffs, scored goals less than five minutes into the third period Friday night to spark the IceCaps to a 5-2 win over the Norfolk Admirals and punch their ticket to the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final.
The IceCaps took the best-of-seven conference semifinal 4-2 in front of a packed house at Mile One Centre, and now await the winner of the other conference semifinal between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Providence Bruins.
The IceCaps will have home ice in that series, meaning the first two games will be played in St. John’s.
The Pens were leading that series 2-1 entering last night’s game in Providence.
Red-hot Eric O’Dell, Jerome Samson and Kyle MacKinnon also scored for the IceCaps, and Michael Hutchinson made 26 saves.
Andre Petersson and Steve Eminger had the Norfolk goals.
It was the IceCaps opening the scoring in the first period, just as they’ve done in nine of 10 playoff games this spring, when Adam Lowry streaked down the left wing and unloaded a hard shot on Norfolk goaltender Brad Thiessen.
Thiessen, however, gave up a big rebound, and Samson was Johnny on the spot to bang in the rebound for his third goal in the post season.
That lead lasted only 1:44, when Petersson wired a shot over Hutchinson’s glove with the IceCaps’ Will O’Neill in the penalty box for holding.
Hutchinson kept the IceCaps in the game through the opening 20 minutes, making several big saves, including one off Emerson Etem, who was sprung loose on a partial breakaway.
His best save of the period, however, came late in the frame when he zipped across his crease to make a big-time glove save off Petersson, who unloaded from the faceoff circle.
O’Dell continued his torrid play in the second period, scoring his seventh goal of the playoffs – and sixth in the past four games – at the 10:21 mark as the IceCaps enjoyed a five-on-three power play after Eminger fired the puck over the boards with the IceCaps already enjoying the man advantage.
But the never-say-die Admirals, the eighth seed entering the Calder Cup playoffs who upset top-ranked Manchester Monarchs, responded with Eminger’s marker.
But MacKinnon picked the right time for his first on the year and the game-winner after a nice move by Brenden Kichton at the blueline started the play which finished with MacKinnon’s banging in the rebound.
It was a much improved period of play for St. John’s, which doubled Norfolk 14-7 on the shot clock.
It was all St. John’s in the third period, with Gordon getting things going at 3:27, fooling Thiessen from a tough angle for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Then Chiarot put the nail in the Admirals’ coffin, tallying his third goal of the post season 41 seconds later.
O’Dell was game’s first star, while Hutchinson took second-star honours. The third star went to Chiarot