Forward lines and defense pairings:
Hudon – Terry – Scherbak
Matteau – de la Rose – Friberg
Veilleux – Audette – Farnham
Broll – Petti – Camara
Redmond – Brouillette
Lowe – Didier
Parisi – Lernout
Scratches: Yann Danis, Ryan Johnston, Joel Hanley, Mark MacMillan, Guillaume Asselin, Markus Eisenschmid, Tim Billingsley, Jeremy Gregoire, Daniel Carr (undisclosed)
Injured Reserve: Martin Reway
Less than 24 hours after beating the Binghamton Senators 5-0, the IceCaps were back in action for a Sunday matinee game in Utica. The Comets sat just above St. John’s in the standings going into the game, making this another must-win scenario for the IceCaps to keep their playoff hopes alive.
A typical game at the Utica Memorial Auditorium is exciting on any day. But this afternoon the building was buzzing with anticipation as fans knew both teams had everything to play for. The crowd cheered and jeered at every play, on every shift for the entirety of the game. It was a playoff atmosphere, to say the least, with tension filling the air.
Charlie Lindgren and Brett Lernout, both fresh off a win with the Montreal Canadiens in Detroit the prior night, arrived in Utica just in time to suit up and hit the ice. Lindgren reclaimed his residency in the goal crease and Lernout came out flying (and hitting) right from the first puck drop.
Both teams exchanged a multitude of penalties in the first period, but neither side was giving their opposition any room to even think about getting a puck past the goal line. The pace was fast, the play was physical, and the goaltenders stood on their head. Even a 3-on-0 opportunity for the IceCaps went unrewarded.
Most of the second period had already gone by and there still was no scoring for either team. Then, at 17:35 in the second, Josiah Didier wired a shot from the point off a feed from Nikita Scherbak to put St. John’s on the board. They headed to intermission up 1-0 despite being outshot 13-5 in the period.
In the final frame the Comets came hard, but the IceCaps blueliners were ready for them. Time after time, Utica forwards were forced to shoot wide or found the puck getting instantly cleared out of the crease before any chances to pounce on rebounds could be taken. At the other end of the ice, Thatcher Demko held his own as well to make sure the IceCaps couldn’t extend their lead.
But Didier’s goal would prove to be all that was needed for St. John’s to beat the Comets and take over that all-important fourth position in the division once again. The team will now head back to Newfoundland to prepare themselves for the final two games of the regular season next weekend when the Toronto Marlies come to Mile One.
▲ Max Friberg, Keegan Lowe, Charlie Lindgren, Josiah Didier, Zach Redmond, Brett Lernout, Chris Terry