Penguins edge IceCaps 3-2 in Game 1 of AHL Eastern Conference final

Brendan McCarthy
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Strong third period not enough for St. John's; Game 2 Sunday night at Mile One

The St. John’s IceCaps came up with a spirited effort in the third period, but it wasn’t enough as they fell 3-2 to the visiting Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in Game 1 of their American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference final at Mile One Centre Saturday night.

 

Calder Cup logo

Chuck Kobasew, Conor Sheary and team captain Tom Kostopoulos had the goals for the Penguins, who never trailed in the game and led 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Andrew Gordon had both goals for St. John’s, which will look to even the best-of-seven series in Game 2 Sunday night (7:30 p.m.) at Mile One. That will be even more important since the series will switch to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for Games 3, 4 and 5 (the latter if necessary) next week.

Saturday’s contest was tied 1-1 after Kobasew and Gordon, the leading playoff scorers for their respective teams, exchanged first-period goals, but the Penguins dominated the second period, outshooting St. John’s 14-5 in the frame and getting tallies from Sheary and Kostopoulos. 

However, the IceCaps turned came out hard in the third, outshooting the Pens 14-6 over the final 20 minutes and getting a goal on a one-timer by Gordon following a face-off win with the teams playing four-on-four at 5:31.

But that it was it for the home side, which couldn’t find a way to get a game-tying goal behind Penguins goalie and former IceCap Peter Mannino, who made 31 saves.

Michael Hutchinson had 29 stops at the other end.

St. John’s certainly would have fared better with a more effective power play, which went zero-for-five on the night. Wilkes-Barre was scoreless in two man-advantage opportunities.

 

Notes

According to the AHL, the road team has won the first game in 12 of 14 series so far in these Calder Cup playoffs. St. John's won as the visiting team in the opener of its best-of-five opening-round series versus Albany and lost as the home team in Game 1 against Norfolk before dispatching the Admirals in six games  ... Jason Jaffray was in the lineup for the IceCaps. The St. John’s captain had played every regular-season and playoff game before an unspecified injury forced him to sit out the IceCaps’ series-ending win in Game 6 of a conference semifinal against the Norfolk Admirals eight days ago … With Jaffray back, forward Josh Lunden reverted to being a scratch … Also among those not playing for St. John’s were defenceman Jordan Hill and Julian Melchiori as the IceCaps went with 12 forwards and six rearguards. Hill had played nine of St. John’s 10 playoff games to date, while Melchiori has yet to see any post-season action as he recovers from an injury suffered late in the season … Among those not playing for the Penguins were forwards Andrew Ebbett and Nick Drazenovic, Wilkes-Barre’s second- and third-leading scorers in the regular season. Both are injured and not expected to play in Game 2 tonight … Since Ebbett and Drazenovic qualify as official AHL veterans, their unavailability does mean Pens’ coach John Hynes did not have to make a tough lineup decision; Wilkes-Barre has seven official veterans —Spencer Machacek, Brendan Mikkelson, Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond, Kostopoulos, Kobasew, Ebbett and Drazenovic — on its playoff roster and league rules specify that only five such players can be used in a game … Gordon leads St. John’s in both goals (8) and points (10) in the post-season … Kobasew has 12 points (6G, 6A) and is plus-7 in 12 playoff games for the Penguins … Zach Redmond drew an assist on Gordon’s first goal, giving the IcCaps’ defenceman eight points in the playoffs, all on assists. Redmond is also plus-nine, best of any player on either team … Saturday’s game was delayed seven minutes in the third period to allow for the replacement of a broken pane of glass … The Molson Canadian three stars: 1. Kostopoulos, WBS; 2. Gordon (SJs) 3. Brian Gibbons, WBS … The Mary Brown’s hardest-working IceCap: Brenden Kichton …

 

bmcc@thetelegram.com

Organizations: IceCaps, Penguins

Geographic location: Wilkes-Barre, St. John's, Jordan Hill

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