© — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
St. John’s IceCaps netminder Michael Hutchinson stops the Texas Stars’ Matej Stransky in Game 3 of the team’s American Hockey League Calder Cup final Wednesday night at Mile One Centre. The Stars won 2-1 in overtime, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series which continues next Monday night.
St. John’s down 2-1 in Calder Cup final following OT loss in Game 3
The St. John’s IceCaps had an apparent goal waved off, saw Patrice Cormier foiled by Cristopher Nilstorp on a breakaway and, alas, watched playoff scoring leader Travis Morin net the game-winner — all in overtime — as the Texas Stars grabbed a one-game lead in the Calder Cup final with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night at Mile One Centre
The Stars lead the best-of-seven American Hockey League championship series 2-1. The final now takes a four-day break as Game 4 is not scheduled until 7:30 Monday night. Game 5 is set for next Tuesday, and if the sixth and seventh games are required, they will be played next Thursday and Monday, June 23.
The IceCaps appeared to have Wednesday’s game won in overtime when Josh Lunden beat Nilstorp on a rebound.
But referee Dave Lewis had blown the play down after Adam Lowry tried to stuff the puck in on the short side.
While the sellout Mile One crowd of 6,287 voiced their displeasure, the IceCaps, to a man, downplayed the series of events after the game.
And so did St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge.
“It was a good call by the ref,” he said. “If that’s going the other way against us, if it’s knocked out from under (Michael) Hutchinson’s glove and it’s counted as a goal, we’re very disgruntled.
“I thought it was a good call.”
The non-goal set off a series of events that led the to the Morin goal.
First, Hutchinson made a huge save — one of several in the past couple of games — off Brett Ritchie with Patrice Cormier in the penalty box on a rather weak hooking call 4:53 into OT.
Then, when Cormier emerged from the penalty box, he was sprung loose on a breakaway, only to be foiled by Nilstorp, who stacked the pads.
Morin ended it shortly afterwards with his seventh goal in the post season.
“I thought it was a little bit of a quick whistle,” said McCambridge, taking us back to the Lunden non-goal, “compared to the first period when Hutchinson had the puck covered for a while and the play was extended before they blew the whistle.
“If that’s the other way, and it’s a goal against us when our goaltender has the puck in that same position, I’ll be a lot more angry than I am right now.”
After a scoreless first period, Ritchie got the Stars on the scoreboard in the second after Texas hemmed the IceCaps in their zone for close to a minute.
It was Ritchie’s fifth goal of the playoffs, and the first in almost four periods of hockey between the two teams.
The AHL’s best team through the regular season owned the second period, forcing the IceCaps to turn the puck over a number of times while outshooting their guests 14-6.
Mouillierat finally got the IceCaps on the scoreboard, while at the same time pumping some life into a towel-waving capacity crowd of 6,287, redirecting a Zach Redmond shot past Nilstorp for his third goal in as many games.
The IceCaps rebounded with a dominating second period, outshooting the Stars 17-6.
“It took us probably two periods to get our feet moving, to get our speed up,” McCambridge said. “But then once we did that in the third period, we were able to create some chances to get in the game.
“I liked our third, but we were just okay in the first and second. I thought as the game wore on, there was more in the third period.
“We realized that we have to have our legs, we have to have our speed at a higher level for 60 full minutes.”
Nilstorp finished the game with 30 saves. Hutchinson stopped 34 pucks.
Stars 2, IcCaps 1 (OT)
Wednesday, at Mile One Centre
Penalties — O’Dell Stj (hooking), 12:46; Dowling Tex (tripping), 19:55
1. Texas, Ritchie 5 (Dowling, Hedden), 15:54
Penalties — Stransky Tex (holding), 5:22; Mouillierat Stj (holding), 7:23
2. St. John's, Mouillierat 6 (Redmond, Klingberg), 11:44
Penalties — Hedden Tex (high-sticking), 1:53; Henderson Tex (slashing), 5:53; Gaunce Tex (hooking), 14:57
3. Texas, Morin 7 (Ranford, McKenzie), 7:20
Penalty — Cormier Stj (hooking), 4:53
Shots on goal: Texas 12-14-6-4-36; St. John's 7-6-17-2-32.
Power play goals/chances: Texas 0/3; St. John's 0/.5.
Goaltenders: Texas, Nilstorp 11-5-0 (32 shots-31 saves); St. John's, Hutchinson 12-7-0 (36 shots/34)
Referees: Dave Lewis (46), Trevor Hanson (47)
Linesmen: Joe Maynard (48), Jim Vail (75)
Attendance: 6,287 (6,287)