Norfolk, Va. — The St. John’s IceCaps will be looking to drive the final nail in the Norfolk Admirals coffin tonight at The Scope Arena in downtown Norfolk.
The IceCaps lead the best-of-seven American Hockey League Eastern Conference semifinal 3-1 and a win will vault St. John’s into the conference final against either the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins or the Providence Bruins.
That series is tied 1-1, with Game 2 scheduled for Wednesday night in Rhode Island.
Given the fact the Pens-Bruins series is still in the early stages, a win tonight for the IceCaps is all the more appealing in that it will provide St. John’s a nice break of at least five days, and that’s if the Penguins or Bruins sweep the remaining three games of their series.
Not that the IceCaps need time to heal injuries. Not a single player on the St. John’s roster is hurt with both Kris Fredheim and Julian Melchiori, who were recently donning non-contact jerseys in practice, now taking part in full practise.
But don’t expect those two to play tonight, as both remained on the ice for extra drills this morning.
Coach Keith McCambridge will go with the same lineup as last night, meaning six defencemen and 12 forwards.
The IceCaps trimmed the Admirals 5-1 Tuesday as the line of Eric O’Dell (two goals), Jason Jaffray (goal, two assists) and Carl Klingberg (goal and an assist) combined for seven points.
Rookie Josh Morrissey and fellow rearguard Will O’Neill each had two assists.
Michael Hutchinson will, of course, start in goal this evening. Hutchinson leads the AHL in minutes played (476.16), wins (six) and saves (225) in the Calder Cup playoffs, and is fourth in goals against average (1.64) and save percentage (.945).
Expect the IceCaps to come hard from the drop of the puck, looking for an early lead as the reasoning is if the Admirals fall behind early, coupled with the fact they’re down 3-1 in the series, their will to send the series back to St. John’s will be fractured.
The game can be heard live on 930AM radio, or log on to stjohnsicecaps.com.