The IceCaps were looking to sweep the weekend and end their four game home stand on a winning note as they hosted Syracuse on Saturday. Although they got the game to overtime, the Crunch scored late in the extra frame to win 2-1.
St. John’s had several lineup changes from their winning group on Friday night. Zach Fucale got the start between the pipes, replacing Eddie Pasquale (who was sent to Brampton of the ECHL in the afternoon). Brandon McNally returned to the lineup in place of Sven Andrighetto who was recalled to Montreal late Friday night. On the blueline, both Joel Hanley and Mac Bennett returned to the lineup in place of Dalton Thrower and Eric Neilson; Sylvain Lefebvre opted to dress seven blueliners. (Surprisingly, that wasn’t even the higher amount of the two teams as Syracuse had eight rearguards suit up.)
The IceCaps got off to a strong start with Daniel Carr ringing one off the post on the first shift of the game. Minutes later, Angelo Miceli (on a rare fourth line shift) had a prime scoring chance in the slot but wasn’t able to beat Kristers Gudlevskis.
The Crunch picked up the pace as the period went on, peppering Fucale but St. John’s held off their attack. Fucale had a highlight reel diving save in the latter stages of the period to help send the teams to the dressing rooms scoreless through 20 minutes. The Crunch doubled up the ‘Caps in shots, 14-7.
In the second, the IceCaps got on the board early. They got a fortuitous bounce at the side of the net; Bud Holloway tapped it over to Gabriel Dumont who had a yawning cage and made no mistake beating Gudlevskis. Unfortunately for St. John’s, the lead was short lived as Jeff Tambellini was left open in the slot just 70 seconds later and sniped one past Fucale to tie it up.
Both teams had partial breakaways later on, Jeremy Gregoire had his chance broken up by Matt Peca while Yanni Gourde was tripped up by Mac Bennett on his chance. A penalty was assessed on the play but it could have been a penalty shot. The IceCaps killed off the penalty and held off a late Crunch attack to keep it tied heading to the 3rd. Syracuse had a 13-8 edge in shots.
St. John’s came out with a much better effort in the 3rd period. They had several strong chances, including a Michael McCarron 2-on-1 and a Bud Holloway partial breakaway but were unable to get one past Gudlevskis. The Crunch were held to just three shots in the frame and were held off the scoresheet, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Charles Hudon had a trio of high quality scoring chances in the first minute but couldn’t get the winner. Two minutes later, Matt Taormina took advantage of a tired St. John’s group and wristed a shot that hit Dumont’s stick before beating Fucale to give the Crunch the win.
Gudlevskis made 29 saves for Syracuse while Fucale turned aside 32 of 34 shots. Both teams were 0/2 with the man advantage.
HW IceCaps 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Zach Fucale – His rebound control was a bit shaky early but he really settled in. There were long stretches of the games where the IceCaps couldn’t get anything going but Fucale kept them in it. After a tough outing against Toronto (where he allowed eight goals), this was a solid bounce back effort.
Stats: 32 saves on 34 shots, 1.90 GAA, .941 SV%
2nd Star: Gabriel Dumont – He had the IceCaps’ lone goal and was their most dangerous forward in the first half of the game. He picked up a few extra shifts with the fourth liners and set up a couple of chances there as well.
Stats: 1 goal, -1 rating, 3 shots, 0 PIMS
3rd Star: Daniel Carr – Aside from his early goal post, Carr was quiet early on but really made his presence felt down the stretch. He had a good chance in the third while making a nice play on the 2-on-1 with McCarron.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 4 shots, 0 PIMS
Honourable Mention: Jeremy Gregoire – He has had a quiet start to his season but he was one of St. John’s more consistent players throughout the game and provided one of his better efforts of the season. With the injuries, he’s now up to the third line, perhaps the extra ice time helped get him going?
Stats: 0 points, +1 rating, 2 shots, 0 PIMS
Next up for the IceCaps is a six game road trip that begins in Rochester next Friday night.