The road roll the St. John’s IceCaps have been on came to a screeching halt Friday night in central Massachussetts with a 6-3 American Hockey League loss to the Worcester Sharks.
The IceCaps (26-24-8) had entered the game having picked up points in five straight contests (4-0-1), including the first four games of a New England swing that ends with a rematch against the Sharks tonight. But on Friday, they came out on the wrong side of what was a bit of a teeter-totter ride with Worcester, making up one-goal deficits three times, but never taking the lead and ending up surrendering two late empty-net tallies to the Sharks
St. John’s rookie goalie Connor Hellebuyck has appeared superhuman much of the season, but seemed simply human Friday. Hellebuyck, making his 46th appearance — nine more than any other AHL netminder — gave up four goals on 27 shots.
Evan Trupp’s hat trick accounted for half the overall goal total of Worcester (30-17-4). Eriah Hayes, Rylan Schwartz and John McCarthy also scored for the Sharks, who got 29 saves from Aaron Dell.
John Albert and Scott Kosmachuk each had a goal and an assist for St. John’s. Chase Balisy also scoring for the IceCaps, who made up 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits before Trupp would score what would stand as the game-winner with just over four minutes remaining in the second period.
A point or two would have moved St. John’s into sole possession of ninth place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference. As it is, the IceCaps stay put at 60 points, the same as the Portland Pirates, who were idle Friday and now have four games in hand on St. John’s. What’s more, the Providence Bruins, who hold the eighth and final playoff berth in the conference, won Friday, edging the Norfolk Admirals 2-1. That moves the P-Bruins, who have played two fewer games than the IceCaps, four points ahead of St. John’s and Portland.
The IceCaps looked to have tied the score at 4-4 with about six minutes remaining in the third when captain Jason Jaffray’s wraparound got behind Dell, but the goal was waved off for what was ruled incidental contact with the Sharks’ goalie … The game started with a bang, as the IceCaps’ Blair Riley and big Jimmy Bonneau of the Sharks tangled at the opening face-off. After a lengthy bout, featuring plenty of bunches by both players, they were each given an unsportsmanlike conduct minor (they had removed their helmets), a fighting major and a game misconduct, all just two seconds into the contest … Winger JC Lipon had two assists for the IceCaps, while fellow forward Joel Armia, who had been sidelined by an injury since Feb. 15., returned to the lineup and picked up a helper for his first point as an IceCap. Also coming back from an injury stay for St. John’s was defenceman Kris Fredheim, who had been out for three games …