The St. John's IceCaps returned home to Mile One Centre on Friday night, looking to move on from their abysmal road trip which saw the team win only once in six games.
That proved to be easier said than done though, as the IceCaps faced the LeHigh Valley Phantoms, who were winners of their two previous games.
Although many fans were hoping to see newly-demoted Ben Scrivens, Friday's game saw rookie Zachary Fucale take over the crease. Fucale, who lost the starting job to Eddie Pasquale, was looking to bounce back after a rough couple of months, which saw him pick up one win over his last eight starts.
The contest also marked Tom Parisi's first game at Mile One. Parisi was recently signed to an ATO, after signing with the Habs out of college.
Fucale and Phantoms starter Martin Ouellette, were the stories of the first period, making 13 and 11 saves respectively. But a scary moment made IceCaps fans collectively hold their breath when forward Charles Hudon was checked from behind by former Habs prospect Aaron Palushaj.
Hudon went head-first into the boards and stayed down for several minutes, before eventually being helped off the ice. To Palushaj's credit, he did skate over to Hudon and offer an apology while he left the ice. Hudon did not return.
Charles Hudon had to helped off the ice after getting hit from behind. This does not look good. pic.twitter.com/D1QT2NHsrF— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) April 1, 2016
In the second period, the game opened up for the Phantoms. Taylor Leier opened the scoring 37 seconds into the frame. Then it was Adam Comrie's turn, the forward's power play tally put Lehigh Valley up 2-0. Tim Bozon was able to pull one back for St. John's shortly after. Bozon's third of the season was assisted by Cory Ward, who like Parisi, was making his home debut.
In the third period, Robert Hagg's third of the season restored the Phantoms two goal lead. The IceCaps failed to make much of a push in the third, managing only three shots on goal.
Phantom's winger Steven Swavely put the final nail in the coffin, late in the period, with a shorthanded empty-net goal.
A combination of the loss, and wins by both Utica and Portland, means the IceCaps have officially been eliminated from the playoffs. That marks four consecutive seasons in which the Habs AHL affiliate has failed to make the postseason.
ST. John's: Zach Fucale (L) 28/31
LeHigh Valley: Ouellette (W) 27/28
1. Martin Ouellette
2. Taylor Leier
3. Bud Holloway