The St. John’s IceCaps will have to do without arguably their top defenceman in these Calder Cup playoffs tonight in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Will O’Neill was handed a one-game suspension Monday by the American Hockey League as a result of match penalty for cross-checking in Game 5 of the series at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday night.
Things got out of hand at the end of Saturday’s game, when Chuck Kobasew scored an empty net goal in the Penguins’ 4-2 win, with everyone on the ice — excluding goaltenders Michael Hutchinson and Peter Mannino — picking up 10-minute misconducts.
O’Neill, probably frustrated after being taken heavily into the boards on an icing play in the first period, and the victim of what appeared to be a spear earlier in the third, also received the match penalty for cross-checking Penguins' forward Andrew Ebbett.
Saturday, IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge used 11 forwards and seven defenceman. With O’Neill now out of the lineup, he could go with Julian Melchiori on defence, although Melchiori has not played in the playoffs.
It’s likely McCambridge will use six defencemen and reinsert J.C. Lipon into the lineup, or perhaps give Jerome Samson another shot. Samson, a 27-goal scorer during the regular season, hasn’t dressed in four games.