Another round, another unknown quantity, as for a second straight Calder Cup playoff series, the St. John’s IceCaps will be matched up with a team they didn’t play in the regular season.
St. John’s takes on the Norfolk Admirals in the Eastern Conference semifinal round of American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs beginning Tuesday at Mile One Centre.
The conference’s semifinal match-ups were decided Saturday night in Springfield, Mass., where the Providence Bruins defeated the Springfield Falcons 6-3 in the fifth and deciding game of their best-of-five opening-round series.
That leaves the fourth-seeded IceCaps squaring off against the No. 8 Admirals in a best-of-seven affair that will begin with two games — Tuesday and Wednesday nights — at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.
The IceCaps-Admirals pairing means the St. John’s coaching staff is once again poring over videotape of an opponent since it is without any recent first-hand information; the IceCaps haven’t played Norfolk — the farm team of the Anaheim Ducks — since the 2012-13 season. That was also the case for the IceCaps in their first-round series, which saw them defeat the Albany Devils in four games, capped off by a 4-1 victory Friday night at Mile One.
Norfolk and Albany were two of three Eastern Conference clubs who didn’t play St. John’s in the recently-completed 2013-24 regular season, the Adirondack Phantoms being the other.
The IceCaps are the highest remaining playoff seed in the conference as all three division winners — No. 2-seeded Springfield, the Binghamton Senators and the conference champion and No 1. seed Manchester Monarchs — were knocked off in the opening playoff round. Norfolk upset Manchester in four games, while the sixth-seeded Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins did the same to the No. 3 Senators.
That means St. John’s would retain home-ice advantage in the conference final, if it advances that far.
See SERIES, page B2
The Penguins and seventh-seeded Bruins will meet in the other Eastern semifinal.
Because of the travel distance involved between Newfoundland and southeastern Virginia, the IceCaps-Admirals series will have a 2-3-2 makeup, meaning the middle three games will be played in Norfolk, beginning next weekend, possibly on Saturday. Games 6 and 7 would, if necessary, would be played in St. John’s on Friday and Saturday, May 16-17, although that was dependant on the exact dates for the games in Norfolk.
The IceCaps and Admirals faced each other in the 2012 Eastern Conference final, which saw St. John’s swept in four games by the eventual Calder Cup champions. However, at that time, Norfolk was the affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
Of the four competitors remaining in the race for the Eastern Conference title, the IceCaps — the farm team of the Winnipeg Jets — are the only one whose parent club is not involved in the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
Ticket sales for the IceCaps' home games in the next round are already underway. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Mile One Centre box office, by phone at 709-576-7657 or online at www.mileonecentre.com. According to Glenn Stanford, the club’s chief operating officer, their are many good seats still available for the series versus Norfolk. Prices are $21, $28 and $31 per game, plus taxes and service fees. The Mile One box-office hours are noon to 5 p.m daily.