Wilkes-Barre, Pa.— If you were looking for a defining moment in Eddie Pasquale's game Saturday night, you had plenty to choose from. Perhaps it was his save in the second period when he sprawled across the crease and reached to deny Cal O'Reilly from in close; or the third as he went post-to-post to make a left-pad stop on Eric Tangradi; or overtime when he stoned Geoff Walker just before the play reversed and Brock Trotter scored the game-winning goal for the St. John's IceCaps.
But it says here that Pasquale's best move Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., wasn't found in those saves or any of the 28 others he was credited with in a 2-1 overtime win in Game 3 of an AHL Eastern Conference semifinal with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
And it came when Pasquale did nothing.
MIdway through a second period in which the Penguins would outshoot the IceCaps 11-0, after they had been unable to beat Pasquale despite three consecutive power-plays, including about half a minute of two-man advantage time, a TV time-out was called.
As Pasquale skated to the St. John's bench for a break, Wilkes-Barre defenceman Joey Mormina had a few words for him. When asked, Pasquale declined to go on record with Mormina's comments. Suffice to say the big rearguard was not complimenting Pasquale on how his night was going or asking if the IceCaps' goalie was enjoying the mild weekend weather in northeastern Pennsylvania or recommending a local restaurant.
If Mormina, in sports parlance, was trying to get into Pasquale's kitchen, then the St. John's netminder simply moved into the living room.
He just kept on skating to the St. John's bench.
As much as anything, it was this unruffled demeanor of Pasquale that won the game for St. John's Saturday night.
He was like a duck gliding on the water at Bowring Park, cool and calm on the outside, paddling like the devil underneath.
"I can get mad. You saw practice where I broke a stick on the post," said Pasquale, referring to the Saturday-morning skate when he reacted to letting a puck behind him.
"But for some reason, in a game, I don't get mad or frustated. I guess you don't want show the other team that you're upset or anything like that. They'll feed off that."
It's also for the benefit of his teammates, who must have been reassured not only by Pasquale's athletic performance Saturday, but by the fashion in which it was delivered.
"Basically, you want to stay under control, make the saves, prevent the rebounds and if you get knocked over, to get right back up and at it again," said Pasquale. "I think that's what the guys want to see."
But it's a reciprocal relationship.
"The guys in front of me, they were great tonight. It may not have looked like it because we were outshot (29-18), but the guys were in the zone, blocking a lot of shots out there," said Pasquale.
"If it ever looked easy for me, they made it that way."
For the record, Pasquale says the second-period save on O'Reilly "looked a lot bigger than it was.
"But I thought that one in the third on Tangradi was a big save. He was on his own island over there and he got a pretty good shot away. I just got it," noted the 21-year-old netminder, who takes a 5-2 playoff record, 2.08 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage into this afternoon at Wilkes-Barre, where the IceCaps will try to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven second-round series.
Saturday's St. John's win assures there will be more hockey played at Mile One Centre this spring, either with a Game 6 Friday (and maybe Game 7 the next night) or in the event the IceCaps could finish off this series with a win this afternoon and Tuesday night in Wilkes-Barre, in the third round ... Whoever emerges from the IceCaps-Penguins matchup will face the winner of the other AHL Eastern Conference semifinal between the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals. That series is tied 1-1 heading into a game tonight in Hartford, Conn ... Injured IceCaps' captain Jason Jaffray was behind the St. John's bench Saturday as an extra assistant for head coach Keith McCambridge ... The Coors Light three stars in Game 3 were 1. Brock Trotter (SJs, 2G) 2. Eddie Pasquale SJs (28 saves) 3. Brad Thiessen WBS (16 saves) ... Defenceman Brett Festerling was Brian Rogers' choice as the Mary Browns hardest-working IceCap ... Trotter and rookie linemates Mark Scheifele and Carl Klingberg all finished plus-two on the night, as did first-year defenceman Zach Redmond, replacing Jason DeSantis, who was a heathy scratch. The other lineup change for St. John's saw Maxime Macenauet dress in place of Marco Rosa and play on what was an effective line with Spencer Machacek and Patrice Cormier ... The IceCaps were outshot 23-9 over the last 50 minutes of the game, and the resulting ratio was a pretty good indication of the Penguins' territorial dominance in that stretch. Nevertheless, it must be said that they are pretty conservative in awarding shots in Wilkes-Barre — to both the visiting and home teams. The fact St. John's wasn't credited with a single shot in the second period (the first time ever the IceCaps were so blanked in a period) was interesting, but the truth is that in many other rinks, two or three would have been rung up. And Pasquale admits, that shot-wise, he thought he was busier than the official 29 against him indicated. "But who cares?" he said. "The only stat that counts is the 'W'."