HARTFORD, Conn – In their fourth and final matchup of the season, the St. John’s IceCaps made easy work of the Connecticut Whale, winning 5-1 on Wednesday night at the XL Center. Over the season series, the teams got the best of one another on the road; Connecticut won twice in Newfoundland just two weekends ago, while St. John’s previously bested the Whale in Hartford back in early October.
Eric O’Dell potted a hat trick in the win, which snapped a five-game Whale winning streak, with stellar performances from linemates Kael Mouillierat and Carl Klingberg. Mouillierat finished with four assists, while Klingberg had two of his own. Mark Dekanich also put together a high quality performance between the pipes; Connecticut had a tough time getting it to him, around him, or through him.
St. John’s jumped out to an early lead in the first when Ben Chiarot got dumped on a cross-check by Jyri Niemi 5:28 in. It took the Winnipeg Jets’ top affiliate time to find the zone on the man advantage; the power play unit was turned away at the Whale blueline five or six times before a successful break-in. With nine seconds left in the advantage, however, Ben Maxwell got a pass from Will O’Neill at the point. Maxwell fired a slapper from the high slot for his fourth of the year at 7:19.
Connecticut surrendered another quick one on a broken play. Klingberg walked in to the zone and Mouillierat let one fly from the circle. It tipped off a stick on the way and, while Whale netminder Cam Talbot came up with the initial kick save, the rebound was laid out for O’Dell to put away for a 2-0 advantage.
O’Dell would gather his second of the night with 89 seconds to go in the period. Klingberg again gained the zone and fed Mouillierat in the slot. The pass to the crease created an easy put-away for O’Dell, and the 3-0 edge would take St. John’s into the second with a decisive lead and an 11-5 shot advantage.
Talbot’s 40th appearance of the year would end short; Jason Missiaen replaced him for the start of the second. Andrew Carroll and Patrice Cormier engaged in fisticuffs at 6:25 following a stoppage; the first of two fights for St. John’s’ number 28 on the night.
Finally showing signs of life, earning a few chances on goal, the Whale got on the board near the midway mark of the period. Nick Palmieri rolled out of the corner and fed a deflected pass across to Kris Newbury. Newbury dished to Andrew Yogan on the backdoor from the top of the circle and Yogan scored his fourth at 10:40. The second ended with the Whale trailing 3-1.
The third didn’t get any easier on Connecticut. Just over two minutes in, the IceCaps went up 4-1 when O’Dell converted his third; this time an easy tap-in rebound of a Mouillierat shot. Completing the hat trick earned O’Dell his 14th, 15th and 16th goals of the season.
On the next shift, Maxime Macenauer found a Maxwell shot on the doorstep for a redirect and a 5-1 lead.
The Whale’s Brandon Segal spoke briefly after the game, saying, “We had a lousy day, we came out flat and they got ahead of us. We made a little attempt in the second but they came hard and we didn’t match them. We’ve been playing good hockey, we’ll turn it back around. Gotta delete it and move on. We had that power play opportunity in the second to pull within one but we didn’t capitalize. Have to give [St. John’s] credit; they’ve been struggling and they played well. We’ll bounce back too.”
Dekanich saw 26 shots against, and allowed just one with a handful of quality chances, and few rebounds surrendered. Talbot finished with eight saves on 11 IceCaps tries, while Missiaen stopped 24 of 26 in his 40 minutes played.