The St. John’s Ice Caps and Norfolk Admirals met for the first time this season in Game One of their Calder Cup Playoff Eastern Conference Semi-Final series on Tuesday night, in a battle of the league’s ‘Cinderella’ story, and a legitimate Cup contender.
The Admirals were flying high after a 3-1 series win over the top-ranked Manchester Monarchs in the first round, while the Ice Caps were coming off an identical series win over the Albany Devils, and held home-ice advantage over eighth-ranked Norfolk.
It was a less-than-perfect start for the Ice Caps, when goaltender Michael Hutchinson and defenseman Zach Redmond‘s miscommunication resulted in a turnover, and Nic Kerdiles of the Admirals made sure it ended up in the back of the net.
Norfolk would keep that lead through the remainder of the first period, and the Ice Caps simply dominated play in the second period. Two fruitless power-plays and outstanding play by goaltender John Gibson kept the score at 1-0, and shots in the period were 18-5 in favour of the Ice Caps.
It wouldn’t take long into the third period before the Ice Caps finally found the net, when Andrew Gordon scored his fourth goal in the past two games, tying the score at 1. However, it wasn’t built to last. Another turnover by the Ice Caps resulted in the puck on the stick of Zack Stortini, and John Kurtz banged in a rebound for the eventual game-winning goal. Kirdiles sealed the win with an empty-netter, and the Admirals took a 3-1 victory to win Game One.
Gibson was simply exceptional in the game, as the Ice Caps shelled the 20-year old goaltender. His 42 saves were an easy choice for the game’s First Star award.
Michael Hutchinson, who was solid throughout the first round for the Ice Caps, made 23 saves on 25 shots for a .920% save percentage.
Ice Caps coach Keith McAmbridge commented on the play of the opposing goaltender:
“I thought we had decent traffic, but he made the saves, he has the numbers he has in the playoffs for a reason.”
The Ice Caps won’t have long to sulk over the 0-1 series defecit: Game Two of the series is Wednesday night from the Mile One Centre at 6:00 PM Central Time.
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