IceCaps stymied by hot goalie, fall 2-1 to Bears

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland and Labrador – The St. John’s IceCaps played well enough to win on Tuesday night versus the Hershey Bears, but in the end could not overcome the superb goaltending of Braden Holtby.
The Bears netminder stopped 32 shots to carry his team to a 2-1 win over St. John’s. While he made more than a few highlight-reel saves throughout the evening, Holtby’s solid positioning and refusal to give up even the hint of a rebound were the keys to his strong performance.
“He’s played in the NHL and he was a big part of the Washington Capitals playoff push last year. He’s a top-end goaltender,” IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge said of Holtby.
Jon DiSalvatore put the Bears up 1-0 on Tuesday with a power play goal at 10:51 of the first period. IceCaps defenseman Zach Redmond scored a power play goal of his own at 12:32 of the second period to tie the game. With only 20 seconds off the clock to start the third period, Hershey’s Tomas Kundratek blasted a point shot past St. John’s goalie Mark Dekanich to give the Bears a 2-1 advantage. Like the night’s previous two goals, Kundratek’s marker also came on the power play.
“It was a tight game and like coach said (after the game), it really could have went either way. But at the end of the day, we can say that all the time and it won’t matter until we start burying pucks,” said Redmond. “We have to find a way to put the puck in the net, plain and simple.”
Tuesday’s game was a nasty affair, with players from both teams delivering and taking a number of hard hits. There seemed to be a fair bit of menace in the air, which resulted in a pair of first period fights.
“We don’t really like them and they don’t like us,” said IceCaps forward Ray Sawada, who traded punches with Hershey’s Patrick Wellar in the game. “From the start it was pretty physical. It was definitely more physical that past games we’ve had.”
The loss marked the IceCaps fourth defeat in a row and third straight loss on home ice. But unlike other recent losses, the IceCaps could at least take solace in the fact they outplayed the Bears in most facets of Tuesday’s game.
“The effort by the guys, everything from playing physical to putting pucks on the net, we had that tonight … It’s hard to fault anything out of that game with the way the guys played. Everything you’d need to try and get yourself two points out of a game was there,” said McCambridge. “I thought both goaltenders played very well tonight. All in all, it was a really good game by both teams. We’re disappointed we didn’t get more for our effort.”
The IceCaps and Bears meet again tonight at Mile Once Centre. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. local time.
Notes: The game’s three stars were Holtby, Dekanich and DiSalvatore, respectively … IceCaps forward Shawn Weller left the game with a broken finger, adding to the team’s already mounting injury woes. Rookie defenseman Cody Sol will take Weller’s place in the lineup tonight, with St. John’s dressing 11 forwards and seven d-men … IceCaps defenseman Paul Postma registered an assist on Redmond’s goal, marking the fourth straight game Postma has picked up at least one point.
Darcy.MacRae@prohockeynews.com
 
 

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