With time running out on their playoff hopes this season, the St. John’s IceCaps made use of a two-game homestand against the Portland Pirates this week at Mile One Center as they took all 4-points with a 3-2 win on Tuesday night followed by a 4-3 win on Wednesday.
The IceCaps grabbed an early lead Tuesday night as Cody Sol potted his first goal as an IceCap for the 1-0 score. Josh Lunden would extend the lead to two with his fourth of the season. However, the Pirates would draw even on goals by Phil Lane and Brendan Shinnimin to tie the game at 2.
Ray Sawada would put the IceCaps ahead 3-2 with just under 8-minutes remaining in the game, and it turned out to be the eventual winner as Mark Dekanich shut the door for St. John’s despite a late charge by the Pirates as he made 30 saves in the win. Goaltender Mark Visentin turned aside 20 shots in the loss for the Pirates.
On Wednesday night, the IceCaps jumped out to the same 2-0 lead early in the game thanks to goals from Kael Mouillierat and newcomer Vinny Saponari. But, just as they did on Tuesday night, the Pirates tied the game at two on goals from Darian Dziurzynski and Jordan Martinook for a 2-2 score. Captain Jason Jaffray gave the IceCaps a 3-2 lead in the second with his 15th goal of the season.
Carl Klingberg put the IceCaps ahead 4-2 just two minutes into the third period on the powerplay for his 10th of the season. David Rundblad would cut the lead to 4-3 at the 17:22 mark of the third on the powerplay, but just as the night before, Mark Dekanich denied any late rush, making 28 saves to secure the victory for St. John’s. Chad Johnson meanwhile turned aside 23 shots for Portland in a losing cause.
No doubt the IceCaps have played strong down the stretch as the club posted a 7-2-1-0 record over their past 10 contests, but it just may be too little too late as they still trail the 8th place Hershey Bears in the East by 7-points, with only 5 games remaining on the season.
If the St. John’s IceCaps do in fact miss the playoffs, it will be the first time since the 2003-04 season that the St.John’s IceCaps/Manitoba Moose team didn’t make it. In fact, the last time the franchise missed the playoffs, St. John’s was home to the former Toronto Maple Leafs AHL franchise, the St. John’s Maple Leafs.