Crunch prevail 5-2 in Game 1 of Mary's Cup at Mile One
The Syracuse Crunch got three unanswered, unassisted goals in the third period to defeat ithe St. John's IceCaps 5-2 in Game 1 of the three-game Mary's Cup American Hockey League exhibition series Thursday night at Mile One Centre.
Tanner Richard, Cedric Paquette, with his second of the night, and Vladimir Namestnikov had the goals in the final frame for the defending Eastern Conference champion Crunch, who like the IceCaps, were playing their first contest of the preseason.
Richard's goal at 8:16 of the third — the game-winner — came on a turnover by St. John's forward Jerome Samson, who saw his pass gobbled up by the Syracuse rookie, who then raced into the St. John's end ahead of defenceman Brenden Kichton and beat IceCaps' goalie Michael Hutchinson with a well-placed shot to the glove side. Paquette's second also came on a St. John's turnover, this time by Carl Klingberg and on the IceCaps' side of the centre line. Namestnikov's tally came into an empty net, a gift of a different sort since the Crunch centre gained the puck after St. John's defenceman Will O'Neill, the last man back, had to discard a broken stick and in doing so gave up the puck.
Mike Witkowski had the other goal for the Crunch, the AHL farm team of the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Cody Sol, on a second-period power play, and Kael Moullierat, in the waning seconds of the middle frame, scored for St. John's.
IceCaps fans hoping for a team that will be an improvement on the one that finished last in the Atlantic a Division in 2012-13 should note that the preseason is what it is, with more sorting out than demonstration of the sort of team that will play in the regular season. They might like that the IceCaps outshot the Crunch 34-25, although much of that was built on a second period when St. John's outshot the visitors 17-6 and got its only two goals. But while the second period was the IceCaps' best, even that assessment came with qualification since the Crunch also got two markers — from Paquette and Witkowski — out of a half-dozen shots in the frame.
Hutchinson went the distance in the net for St. John's. Cedrick Desjardins started between the pipes for Syracuse before giving way to Riku Helenius midway through the second. Helenius gave up both St. John's goals but got the win.
Centre Zach O'Brien of St. John's was in the starting lineup for the IceCaps and had the first shot on goal of the game and three overall. Aso starting for the home side was defenceman Zach Bell, who grew up in Ontario, but was born in St. John's and has many relatives here.
Official attendance tonight was 4,391 meaning Mile One was just over two-thirds full.
There were two fights in the second period, the first featuring O'Neill getting the best of Namestikov, the second involving St. John's captain Jason Jaffray and Syracuse blueliner Joey Mormina.
The IceCaps' lineup Thursday included number of players who were with St. John's, either full-time or part-time, last season: forwards Jaffray, Adam Lowry, Mouillierat, Carl Klingberg, Ryan Schnell and John Albert; defencemen O'Neill and Sol; and goalie Jussi Olkinuora, who did not play.
Newcomers who were dressed were forwards Samson, Kyle McKinnon, Blair Riley, Phillip-Michael Devos, Maxime Legault and O'Brien; defencemen Cody Lampl, Travis Ehrhardt, Kichton and Bell; and Hutchinson in goal.
Devos, O'Brien and Legault, who constituted one forward line for St. John's, along with Lampl, Ehrhardt and Bell, are all in camp on tryouts.
St. John's head coach Keith McCambridge says that all players in camp — there are 37 on the roster — should see action in the Mary's Cup competition barring injuries.
Game 2 of the tourney is Saturday (5 p.m.) at the Clarenville Events Centre, while it wraps up Sunday afternoon (4 p.m.) at Mile One. All games are being carried on 930 CJYQ and online through the IceCaps' website (stjohnsicecaps.com).
Thursday's Molson Canadian three stars: 1. Cedric Paquette, Syr. 2. Kael Mouillierat, SJs, 3. Tanner Richard, Syr. … IceCaps' broadcaster Brian Rogers' choice as the Mary Brown's hardest-working player: new forward Blair Riley … Jerome Samson and Adam Lowry, on a line with captain Jason Jaffray, both finished minus-three, although all three players were on the ice for the empty-netter … No St. John's player finished with a plus rating … They may be the Portland Pirates, but the AHL team will not be playing in Portland, Me., this season. Due to an unresolved legal dispute with the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, the Pirates have announced they will play all their home and playoff games this season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiiston, Me. The decision means the date of at least one of the IceCaps' road games will be changed … Today is the last day that IceCaps season-ticket holder can reserve their seats for the AHL All-Star Classic, to be held at Mile One Centre Feb. 11 to 12. They can do so by contacting the Mile One Centre box office …