The St. John’s IceCaps had an up and down weekend against the Portland Pirates. If this was a soccer series played on aggregate, heads would be rolling. But two completely separate games? Different story. You can almost take it as a net positive.
The first game is probably one that the team would like to forget forever. Portland opened the scoring just a minute and nineteen seconds in, and saw no reason to stop. Henrik Samuelsson’s opener was followed by goals from Greg Carey and Francis Wathier, giving the Pirates a commanding lead after twenty minutes.
Kyle MacKinnon took advantage of St. John’s second powerplay of the game in the opening seconds of the second peroid, and things appeared to be going in the right direction. But Portland kept pressing, running the table against Jussi Olkinoura, who took Connor Hellebuyck’s place after the third goal. It looked like the period would end at 5-1, but with a second left, Jordan Martinook added yet another goal.
The struggles continued into the third; eventually the scoreboard put the IceCaps out of their misery and handed them an 8-1 loss.
Saturday was a different day, and in this one, the result was significantly better. Portland still controlled much of the game, but both goalies stood on their heads. One of them was going to have to crack eventually, and midway through the period, the hockey gods decided that Mike McKenna would be the one to do so.
Will O’Neill played the hero for St. John’s, scoring his ninth of the season on their fourth powerplay of the game. Both sides kept pressing, both to tie the game and to extend it, but time would expire before either side got the chance.
I’m going to go with Connor Hellebuyck. It takes a lot of mental fortitude to come back from being pulled so early and have a strong bounce back game, let alone to do it in the form of a shutout the very next day. He’s easily the biggest reason they won tonight. Hellebuyck stopped 43 of 46 shots over the weekend, which is a good number overall.
- Overall, the IceCaps were outscored 8-2 over the two games. As well, they were outshot 68 to 50. The important thing is that they ended it with two points, but it’s not exactly the idea result.
- Kyle MacKinnon and Brendan Kichton had points on both goals scored this weekend.
- Carl Kingberg had the best individual shot total with seven on Friday; John Albert lead with five on Saturday.
- The IceCaps scored both of their goals on the powerplay, going eight for eight overall. Despite the blowout on Friday, they still managed to go eight for eight on the penalty kill.
- St. John’s return to the ice on Tuesday, against Hartford.
Photo courtesy of StJohnsIceCaps.com