After a successful start to their homestand against Hartford, the IceCaps squared off against a North Division rival, the Utica Comets, on Tuesday night.
Returning to the IceCaps’ lineup were Charles Hudon, Chris Terry, and Michael McCarron, providing St. John’s with a bona fide top line once again. While the games against the Wolf Pack were slower paced, defensive battles, the opening period against the Comets was the exact opposite.
It took Pascal Pelletier less than three minutes to score the first goal, which by all accounts was an own goal for St. John’s. From the video it looks like Pelletier dumped the puck in, it bounced off a defender’s stick, and Mark MacMillan sent it over the net. Charlie Lindgren was caught unaware and despite his best efforts, the puck rolled off his shoulder and just over the line for a goal.
It was the line of returning stars who struck back for St. John’s. McCarron dished off a great pass to Hudon, who put it in the empty net to tie the game at one.
The Comets would strike back almost immediately however. Evan McEneny let a harmless wrist shot go from the point and it found its way past Lindgren to put Utica up 2-1.
The Comets owned the flow of play in the second frame, negating almost every IceCaps attempt to pass through the neutral zone. Pelletier doubled the Utica lead about six minutes in with his second of the night. Even St. John’s’ highly rated power play looked out of sync, and the offence was unable to put any sustained pressure on Richard Bachman.
Chris Terry brought the IceCaps within a single goal seven minutes into the third period. McCarron continued his strong performance with a great effort to get the puck in deep and set Terry up, the latter roofing one over the Comets’ netminder.
Utica took over the game following Terry’s goal, including Pelletier finishing his hat trick on another deflection. Cody Kunyk added a late goal to drive the score to 5-2 and seal the loss for the IceCaps.
Charlie Lindgren stopped 28 out of 33 shots for St. John’s while Bachman stopped 26 of 28 for Utica.
The two teams will meet again tonight, and it’s likely we will see Yann Danis in net, with Thatcher Demko projected to face him at the other end. There is little time to relax after that, as the Albany Devils will be in town on Saturday and Sunday.