IceCaps blank Penguins 5-0, take 2-1 lead in AHL Eastern Conference final

Brendan McCarthy
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St. John's gets shutout goaltending from Hutchinson, solid performances by special teams

What had been a tight series through the first two games wasn’t even close this time as the visiting St. John’s IceCaps dominated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 3 Wednesday night, coming away with a 5-0 win and taking a 2-1 lead in their American Hockey League Eastern Conference final.

 

 

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Patrice Cormier, team captain Jason Jaffray, Eric O’Dell, Kael Mouillierat and Zach Redmond had the goals for St. John’s in the game played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., which also will be the site of Games 4 and 5 Thursday and Saturday.

The teams had split the first two games of the best-of-seven matchup over the weekend at Mile One Centre in St. John's, the Penguins taking the opener 3-2 and the IceCaps following up with 2-1 victory the next night.

The spread was much larger in Wednesday's contest, in part because of St. John's netminder Michael Hutchinson, the game's first star, who made 30 saves for his second shutout of the post-season.

The IceCaps also got a solid performance from their special teams, scoring twice on the power play and dealing successfully with all six power plays — including a 65-second 5-on-3 in the first period — for the banged-up Penguins, who were missing a number of key offensive players to injuries.

Cormier opened the scoring 11:24 into the contest, benefiting from a beautiful set-up from rookie defenceman Josh Morrissey, who continues to impress in his young pro career. It was the first man-advantage marker by either team in the series; both the IceCaps and Penguins had been zero-for-eight on the PP entering the game.

Less than two minutes later, Jaffray put a shot high and past Wilkes-Barre netminder Peter Mannino on a feed from Andrew Gordon, who had stripped the puck from Spencer Machacek behind the goal line,

O'Dell scored at 1:35 of the middle frame, getting his eighth goal of the playoffs, tying him with Gordon for the team lead in that category. Mouillierat followed with his third of the post-season about five minutes later, again on the power play, this time with St. John’s owning a five-on-three advantage.

Gordon and O’Dell picked up assists on Mouillierat’s goal. For Gordon, it was his third helper of the game, giving him a team-leading 13 points in these playoffs.

Redmond got his first of the playoffs with just one-10th of a second remaining in the middle period after an icing call against the Pens set up a late face-off in their zone. The IceCaps won the draw and the puck found its way to Redmond, whose one-time slapshot found its way through Mannino's glove and trickled over the goal line.

That would be it for Mannino, who finished with 25 saves. He was replaced by rookie Matt Murray to start the third. The 20-year-old Murray, who joined the Penguins late in the season after finishing his junior season with Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL, stopped all eight shots he faced over the final 20 minutes.

 

Note

An interesting interview between IceCaps’ broadcaster Brian Rogers and team president and CEO Danny Williams during the first intermission of Wednesday's game. Williams suggested that if St. John’s advances to the Calder Cup final and the Texas Stars are the opponents, then the IceCaps could be facing scheduling difficulties, since the probable dates for home games at Mile One Centre for that particular series would be unavailable because the building has a convention/trade show scheduled. Williams didn’t hold back in calling on Mile One to co-operate with the IceCaps, the building’s major tenant. If there was a Stars-IceCaps final, it would would have a 2-3-2 format, with the middle three games in St. John’s since Texas had the better regular-season record. The Stars hold a 2-1 lead in their AHL Western Conference against the Toronto Marlies after a 3-2 win in Game 3 tonight at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. If the Marlies advance from the West, the IceCaps would have home-ice advantage based on regular-season records … There were no changes in the St. John’s lineup from the one that delivered a 2-1 win in Game 2 Sunday at Mile One, although Rogers did suggest during his pre-game show that winger Jerome Samson would have played except for a case of the stomach flu/food poisoning. Samson had been a healthy scratch Sunday. If Samson had played Wednesday, it’s expected he would have replaced rookie JC Lipon … While there were no moves for St. John’s, there were plenty for the Penguins. Centre Dominik Uher has been added to the Wilkes-Barre injury list, which already included, among others, veteran forwards Chuck Kobasew, Nick Drazenovic and Andrew Ebbett. As well, Josh Archibald and Mike Carman came out of the WBS lineup, with Carter RowneyTom Kuhnhackl and Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond drawing in … Zach Redmond finished the game with a plus-three rating and is an IceCaps-best plus-11 in the playoffs … The game featured the first fight of the series, a second-period scrap between IceCaps rookie Adam Lowry and Penguins defenceman Simon Despres ...  Will O'Neill picked up an assist on Redmond's buzzer-beating goal, giving him nine helpers in the playoffs, most on St. John's in the post-season ... With the shutout, Michael Hutchinson improved his goals-against-average in the playoffs to 1.68 and his save percentage to .945 ... During this post-season, the IceCaps have scored the first goal in 11 of 13 games and have won 10 of them … St. John's finished 2-for-5 on the power play Wednesday ... The Penguins are 0-for-14 on the power play in the series ... The game was played before a crowd of 3,553 at the Mohegan Sun Arena, which has a hockey capacity of 8,300 ... The Molson Canadian three stars for Game 3 were all from St. John’s: 1. Hutchinson; 2. Andrew Gordon 3. Eric O’Dell … For a second straight game, Rogers' choice as the Mary Brown's hardest-working IceCap was Patrice Cormier ...

bmcc@thetelegram.com

 

Organizations: IceCaps, Penguins

Geographic location: Wilkes-Barre

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