ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland and Labrador – A late push just fell short on Saturday night as the St. John’s IceCaps dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Toronto Marlies.
Eric O’Dell’s second goal of the game brought St. John’s to within one of the Marlies in the dying minutes of the third period, prompting a hectic final minute of the contest as the IceCaps worked tirelessly in pursuit of the tying marker. Greg Scott’s clearing attempt made it all the way into an empty St. John’s net with just eight seconds left in the period to seal the win for Toronto.
IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge said afterward the loss could be attributed to a slow start to the second period by St. John’s. The IceCaps began the middle frame flat-footed and allowed the Marlies to score twice in the opening three minutes.
“In the second period Toronto stepped up the pace and we were unable to get out of our own zone,” said McCambridge. “There were periods of time we couldn’t execute passes to get out of the zone. We had no sustained pressure.”
The loss marked the second straight night St. John’s was downed by the Marlies. However, one major difference in the games was the fact Toronto started a very inexperienced goalie on Saturday, giving 19-year-old Garret Sparks his first game of profession hockey.
Although Sparks looked steady in the Marlies net, he was rarely seriously tested by the IceCaps, who failed to put much pressure on the rookie. McCambridge was clearly disappointed his team did not make it more difficult for Sparks.
“I wanted to get traffic, I wanted to get pucks to the net,” said McCambridge. “His first professional hockey game, you want to make him uneasy, you want to push him out of the game. We didn’t test him enough.”
One bright spot for the IceCaps was the inspired play by line mates Eric O’Dell and Kael Mouillierat. The pair combined for seven points in the two-game set and were the only IceCaps to consistently threaten the Marlies in the offensive zone.
“Eric O’Dell continues to find ways to put the puck in the back of the net,” McCambridge said. “Mouillierat is an ECHL call-up who’s one of my best players. He’s made the most of every situation he’s been in. Nothing but positives to say about his game.”
O’Dell opened the scoring in Saturday’s game with a marker at 3:27 of the first period. Toronto used a power play goal from Stuart Percy at 5:27 of the first to tie things at one. The Marlies used goals from Spencer Abbott and Kenny Ryan at 2:05 and 3:12 respectively of the second period to go up 3-1, seizing control of the game. O’Dell brought the IceCaps back within striking range with a goal at 18:54 of the third, but Scott’s empty-netter at 19:52 halted the short-lived comeback.
Sparks stopped 23 shots to earn his first professional hockey win, while Eddie Pasquale made 30 saves in the IceCaps net.
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