St. John’s end five-game homestand with second straight shootout loss to Worcester Sharks
The St. John’s IceCaps closed out a five-game homestand Saturday night at Mile One Centre, and while the team was able to pick up another point with a second straight shootout loss to the Worcester Sharks, coach Keith McCambridge takes little solace in the meagre gain.
© — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
The St. John’s IceCaps’ Patrice Cormier (28) just misses the Worcester Sharks’ Taylor Doherty with a check during the teams’ game Saturday night at Mile One Centre. The Sharks went on to collect a second straight shootout win over the IceCaps, winning 2-1. Worcester took Friday’s game 3-2 in a shootout.
“I’m not satisfied with one point, I don’t sleep well with one point. I don’t feel good about it when I wake up in the morning and we didn’t get all the points on the table,” McCambridge said after the IceCaps fell 2-1 Saturday, following a 3-2 shootout loss Friday.
“But I thought the team did some really good things. They worked hard and the execution was there.
“Where we let the game slip out of our grasp was not being able to capitalize on those power play chances in the first period. We had the one (goal), and we had multiple opportunities after where if we get ourselves up 2-0, we might be able to pull two points out of that game.”
Jerome Samson made good on the IceCaps’ first man-advantage opportunity, but they were unable to solve Sharks’ netminder Harri Sateri on four more power play opportunities before the first 12 minutes of the opening frame expired.
With Samson’s marker, six of the IceCaps’ last eight goals have been scored on the power play, and while McCambridge is pleased to see the PP humming, the team’s even-strength offence needs to improve.
“Our power play came through with some key goals for us,” he said. “But we need to generate more five-on-five, we needed to generate more in this series instead of depending on our power play to get us where needed to be.”
Special teams aren’t a problem for the IceCaps these days as McCambridge thought the IceCaps’ penalty kill — perfect in six chances Saturday and a respectable 88 per cent in the series — was, “real strong.”
“I thought we were aggressive in our reads on the PK and the one in the third period when (Will) O’Neil was in the box was a big, key penalty kill.”
McCambridge also lauded the performance of goaltender Jussi Olkinuora, making his first start in eight games — only his fourth overall for the club — and his first at Mile One this season.
“I thought he was good, he looked comfortable in there,” McCambridge said after the Finnish rookie gave the IceCaps a fighting chance with 32 saves. “I was worried in the first period when he didn’t get a lot of work when we had all those power plays, but he got himself some shots after. He played a strong game.”
Olkinuora was pleased with his play, but lamented not being good enough when it counted.
“I thought I was good at shootouts, but I guess I still have some work to do,” the Helsinki native said after allowing two goals on four shots in the shootout. “They all shot, which for a goalie, is usually easier. I don’t know, I got a piece of both, but it wasn’t good enough today.”
In the shootout, after Eric O’Dell put the IceCaps ahead with a dirty dangle to beat Sateri up high, the Sharks’ Travis Oleksuk snapped one past Olkinuora blocker-side to even it up. Brodie Reid scored on Worcester’s fourth shot, and St. John’s captain Jason Jaffray lost the handle in his attempt to extend the shootout.
“I thought their goaltender was really good,” McCambridge noted of Sateri, who stopped 24 of 25 shots faced. “He’s really big and aggressive. Both games that he played here, he was a difference maker for them and to go to a shootout … he doesn’t give you much.”
Samson opened scored in regulation, taking a feed from Jaffray down low and sending a wrister from near the blueline past a screened Sateri. It was Samson’s fourth of the series.
Worcester (5-7-1-0, 11 pts) dominated the second, firing 13 shots on Olkinuora, and finally solved the IceCaps’ goalie on an odd-man rush at 7:49 of the third with Sebastien Stalberg sending an cross-ice feed to a streaking Oleksuk who got it over Olkinuora and under the crossbar to tie the game.
The IceCaps (7-7-1-2, 17pts) start a six-game road trip Friday night, 7:30, in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa. for the first of two in a back-to-back set with the Penguins. From there it’s single-night engagements with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Hershey Bears, Syracuse Crunch, and Binghamton Senators before returning to St. John’s at the end of the month.
Notes: The IceCaps were without defenceman Julian Melchiori Saturday after he was called up the Winnipeg Jets prior to the game. In 14 games this season, Melchiori had four assists. Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, rearguard Zach Redmond, called up nearly two weeks ago, was a healthy scratch for the sixth straight game as the Jets defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a shootout Friday night … Winnipeg Jets assistant general manager and IceCaps GM Craig Heisinger was in St. John’s for Saturday night’s game … The Mary Brown’s hardest working player Saturday was JC Lipon, who was a healthy scratch Friday … Saturday’s Molson Canadian three stars were 1. Harri Sateri, Worcester; 2. Jussi Olkinuora, St. John’s; 3. Travis Oleksuk, Worcester…