Patrice Cormier scored twice and goaltender Chris Carrozzi made 24 saves in his first AHL game this season as the St. John's IceCaps edged the Hershey Bears 3-2 Saturday night to clinch a playoff spot in the American Hockey League's Calder Cup playoffs.
The IceCaps (40-21-8) are guaranteed more than a post-season berth; they're also sure of a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference. That's because Saturday's win also means St. John's will finish first in the AHL's Atlantic Division, and division winners, no matter their finish in the overall standings, will be seeded one to three entering the playoffs.
Arturs Kulda had the other goal and Carl Klingberg had two assists for St. John's in the last game of a six-game road trip that saw the IceCaps go 2-3-1 as they dealt with a rash of injuries.
Carrozzi had been promoted from the ECHL last week to replace an injured Eddie Pasquale, and the St. John's lineup on Saturday included four players — forwards Danny Dries, Scott Zurevinski and Josh Lunden, along with defenceman Will O'Neill — signed to try-out contracts. There was some good news on the roster front earlier in the day when the parent Winnipeg Jets announced centre Ben Maxwell is being returned to the IceCaps.
Hershey's goals came from Mike Carman and Ryan Potulny, the latter in the game's last minute with Bears goalie Dany Sabourin on the bench for an extra attacker.
The IceCaps' cause was helped by good penalty-killing. Hershey (38-21-10) went zero-for-six on the power play.
St. John's next games are Tuesday and Wednesday at Mile Once Centre as they host the Portland Pirates. The IceCaps finish their home schedule next Saturday and Sunday against the Springfield Falcons before closing out the regular season with a three-game road trip to New England.
The game's three stars were all IceCaps: 1. Cormier 2. Kulda 3. Carrozzi ... St. John's had 25 shots on goal ... The IceCaps were scoreless in three power-play attempts ... Despite the loss, Hershey also clinched a playoff spot Saturday. Portland's 4-3 overtime loss to Bridgeport means the Bears can finish no lower than eighth in the conference ...