Much like in their meeting on Wednesday, the two squads jumped right into the action, with Jack Nevins (of all players) opening the scoring just 2:30 into the opening period. Eddie Pasquale made the initial diving save, but in a mass of bodies, Nevins managed to chip the puck into the net.
A little over two minutes later, Nikita Scherbak threaded a gorgeous pass ahead to Charles Hudon, who deposited the puck past Linus Ullmark for his 25th goal of the year.
The IceCaps eighth-ranked penalty kill was flawless in the period, killing off both penalties it faced.
In what was a startlingly close replay of their previous meeting, the second period belonged to the IceCaps as they tallied three goals. Brandon McNally, in particular, was impressive, launching a great solo effort to give the IceCaps a 2-1 lead. Then, left all alone at the point, Morgan Ellis wired home his 14th goal of the year just moments later.
Just before the period ended McNally swatted in a Mark MacMillan shot to put St. John's up by three. It was another perfect period for the IceCaps penalty kill as they killed off both of John Scott's minor penalties.
The third period started off kind to the IceCaps, as right off the bat the line of Gabriel Dumont, Bud Holloway, and Max Friberg factored in on the Swede's 12th goal of the year.
From there it should have been smooth sailing, but once again the Amerks came charging back. Goals by Dan Catenacci and Eric O'Dell within a minute of each other sent the IceCaps reeling for the remainder of the game. put on a great performance to secure the win for the IceCaps, stopping 26 of the 28 shots he faced in the third period, including a flurry of action on a late six-on-four penalty kill for his team.
To my eye, Friberg was far and away the best IceCaps forward on the ice, using his deceptive speed and shiftiness to elude defenders and create scoring chances.
Also, on a night where the Montreal Canadiens' final two collegiate prospects lost their respective games, the NCAA graduates in St. John's' lineup came up huge. MacMillian tallied a pair of assists, amateur tryout signee Cory Ward collected one helper, and McNally had a pair of key goals, including the game-winner.
St. John's is in Toronto this afternoon to face off against their biggest rival: the league-best Marlies. Puck drop is scheduled for 1:30 PM EDT / 3:00 PM NDT.
St. John's - Eddie Pasquale 43/46 (W)
Rochester - Linus Ullmark 19/24 (L), Andrey Makarov 8/8
1. Brandon McNally (2G, GWG)
2. Max Friberg (1G 1A)
3. Mark MacMillian (2A)