For the second time in as many nights, the St. John's IceCaps built up a 2-0 lead against the Syracuse Crunch and for the second time couldn't convert it into a win, falling 4-2 in American Hockey League play at Mile One Centre Saturday night.
But while Friday's game, a 3-2 shootout victory by Syracuse, was an entertaining contest that easily could have gone either way, Saturday's was something completely different.
It was like watching an IceCaps train that had been steaming steadily for 20 minutes go suddenly, and almost inexplicably, off the rails.
After building up that 2-0 lead on a pair of Aaron Gagnon goals and outshooting the Crunch 14-8 in the opening frame, the next half-hour's worth of play — the entire second period and first half of the third — saw the Crunch outshoot the IceCaps 25-3 and take the lead in the process.
Matt Taormina and J.T. Wyman had second-period goals for the Crunch, while Brett Connolly got the game-winner midway through the third on a deflection of a Radko Gudas shot from the point. Tyler Johnson finished off the scoring with an insurance marker less than two minutes later, Johnson's league-leading 31st tally of the season.
With the win, the Crunch (36-17-7) maintain their lead in the overall standings, while the IceCaps (23-32-5), lost their eighth straight game at home.
At 9-17-4, St. John's has the worst home-ice record in the league.
Riko Helnius faced 25 shots, but just 11 over the last 40 minutes, for Syracuse, while Eddie Pasquale, dealt with 35.
For the IceCaps, there were three lineup changes, beginning with the return of sophomore forward John Albert to the injury list with a broken hand suffered while blocking a shot Friday. It almost certainly means the season is over for Albert, who had been troubled by a back/neck/nerve problem much of the season and was playing for the first time in 14 games on Friday ... With Albert out and Carl Klingberg sitting as a healthy scratch, Josh Lunden and Norm Ezekiel, both promoted from ECHL teams, drew into the lineup ... Another change was on defence, where veteran Rich Petiot returned to his Alberta home to be his wife after the birth of their first child, a daughter. Rookie Will O'Neill took Petiot's place on the blueline ... Saturday's Coors Light three stars: 1) Wyman, Syr., 2) Gagnon, SJs, 3) Gudas, Syr. ... The Mary Brown's hardest-working IceCap, as selected by play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers: rearguard Travis Ramsey ... Today sees the IceCaps hold their FanFest 1-4 p.m, at Mile One Centre. There will be games, raffles of numrous items, including signed NHL jerseys and sticks, game-worn IceCaps jerseys, and of course, a chance to get up close and personal with IceCaps players (and Buddy The Puffin). Admission is $5 per person and $10 for families, while season-ticket holders ( and up to three guests), get in free — all they need to do is provide their season-ticket-holder ID card ...