The St. John’s Ice Caps are four wins away from the Calder Cup.
In a one-sided Game Six at the Mile One Centre in Newfoundland on Tuesday, the Ice Caps finished off the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, advancing to the Calder Cup Final for the first time in team history.
The Ice Caps’ penalty-kill was busy in the first 10 minutes of the game, killing off a double-minor and minor high-sticking penalty each.
The first goal of the game wouldn’t come until the final minutes of the first period, when the Ice Caps’ lethal power-play struck once again. Eric O’Dell was the beneficiary of a sweet pass from Brenden Kitchon, and the Ice Caps held on to the 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
The only goal of the second period would come just 3:24 in, when Adam Lowry netted his second of the playoffs for the two-goal cushion. Both teams were involved in some rough play in the period’s dying moments, but the score would remain 2-0 at the horn, leaving St. John’s just 20 minutes away from closing out the series.
The Ice Caps poured it on early in the third, in a strong counter-attack to a Penguins team looking increasingly desperate. Blair Riley’s first goal of the playoffs at 2:23, followed by Zach Redmond‘s second at 5:21, had finally put the game out of reach. A strong defensive game was in order for the final 10 minutes, and each and every Ice Cap delivered. Captain Jason Jaffray sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the final minute, and the Ice Caps cruised to a 5-0 victory, as well as the Eastern Conference Championship.
Michael Hutchinson was easily the best player on the ice all night, stopping all 34 shots he faced for his third shutout of the playoffs. The Ice Caps’ penalty-kill was bulletproof once again, and their perfect 5-for-5 contributed to a staggering statistic: The Penguins’ power-play was unable to find the net once in 32 tries this series.
On the other side of the special teams coin, the Ice Caps’ power-play finished the night one-for-five, and 7-for-25 in the entire series (28%) scoring in each game since Game Three.
The Ice Caps did it all without top defenseman Will O’Neill, who was serving a one-game suspension after a cross-check in Game Five of the series. Jerome Samson picked up two assists in his first action since Game One of the series.
After the victory, all eyes were set on Austin, Texas, to see who the Ice Caps’ opponent in the Final would be, between the Texas Stars and the Toronto Marlies. Six unanswered goals by the home team led the Stars to a 6-2 victory, and the stage was finally set: Ice Caps vs. Stars in a best-of-seven series for the Calder Cup.
Game One of the series will be on Sunday from the Cedar Park Center in the Lone Star State at 7:00 PM Central Time. Stay tuned to the site for full coverage of the Calder Cup Final right until the final horn!
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