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IceCaps vs. Phantoms weekend recap: Charles Hudon’s heroics earn a series split at Lehigh Valley

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After their biggest win of the year on Wednesday, the IceCaps rolled into the home of the AHL’s second-best team.

Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey

Both the St. John’s IceCaps and Lehigh Valley Phantoms were coming off impressive shutouts on Wednesday — the IceCaps blanking the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4-0, and the Phantoms defeating the Binghamton Senators 5-0 — as the began a back-to-back set on Friday.

When all was said and done, the teams had played two close affairs, each claiming a victory in the process.

Friday

The first period was all IceCaps, outshooting the Phantoms 7-0 during the first half. Bobby Farnham opened the scoring after a redirect on Julien Brouillette’s shot from the point. Daniel Audette picked up the other helper, snapping an 11-game pointless streak.

The Phantoms didn’t manage to get a shot on Charlie Lindgren until 11:39 into the first. Not long after, however, a blast from the point by Travis Sanheim got past the IceCaps goaltender to tie it up.

The Phantoms began picking up their shot attempts and before Lindgren knew it a sharp-angle shot and a rebound picked up by Chris McCarthy quickly gave the home side the lead.

However, Lindgren was bumped during that play, and was therefore unable to make the stop. After a discussion, the referees agreed, and the goal was waved off for goaltender interference to keep the score at one goal apiece.

Twenty-four seconds into the middle frame, Hudon did a little pocket picking and went up and over the glove of Anthony Stolarz to give the IceCaps a 2-1 lead, extending his point streak to five games and tying Chris Terry as the team’s leader in goals.

The IceCaps remained disciplined, not getting called for their first penalty until 5:05 left in the second period, but that was enough to expose St. John’s struggling special teams. After Lindgren made two great saves during the penalty kill, Chris Conner chipped it over the left leg of Lindgren to make it a 2-2 game.

Immediately following the Phantoms goal, Terry was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct during the faceoff, putting the Phantoms right back on the power play.

After dominating in shots on goal for the majority of the first period, the IceCaps were chasing the puck through the second and into the third, which ultimately led to their demise.

Thanks to Brett Lernout being a little overzealous and throwing Conner into Lindgren’s net, Conner was awarded a penalty shot and the opportunity to take the lead. Lindgren read the play well and was the quicker of the two, keeping the IceCaps in the game.

Lindgren kept turning away pucks until the final minutes, when Mark Alt fired a shot that bounced off Conner and in. In the dying seconds Cole Bardreau put home an empty-netter for a 4-2 victory.

Three Stars

  1. Mark Alt (0G, 2A) - LV
  2. Cole Bardreau (1G, 1A) - LV
  3. Charlie Lindgren (SA: 36, SV: 33)

Saturday

Much like their meeting with the Penguins on Wednesday, the goalies dominated the opening period. Alex Lyon for Lehigh Valley turned away all five shots from the IceCaps while Yann Danis was beaten once on 11 shots. The goal came with under a minute left when Robert Hagg was able to walk into the middle of the zone and snuck one by Danis.

While the offence was sluggish in the opening period, the same was not true in the second. The IceCaps owned the flow of play for the majority of the period. It would be Nikita Scherbak getting on the board first under three minutes in. Tom Parisi rifled a shot in on Lyon, and Scherbak pounced on a rebound, swatting it out of the air and into the net.

Less than two minutes later Terry lit the lamp, with his team-leading 16th goal of the year. Zach Redmond found some time and dished it off to Terry who was in the right circle, and he made no mistake with his shot.

The IceCaps run was capped off by a goal from the fourth line with over 12 minutes left in the period. Anthony Camara broke in on net, made a move around a Phantoms defender, and gave Mark MacMillan a perfect pass for a goal.

The Phantoms cut the deficit to one with a late goal from Mark Zengerle after being without a shot for over half the period. The goal was reviewed quickly as a Lehigh Valley player was shoved into Yann Danis, but in the end was ruled a good goal.

It was a frenetic pace in the final period, with the Phantoms pushing the IceCaps to the limit while trying to tie the game. Eventually they would break through just after the IceCaps killed off a Camara penalty. Will O’Neill found Colin McDonald open down low and fed him a perfect pass that Yann Danis had no chance at.

Yet the IceCaps pushed back and it was their star players who came up big once more. Nikita Scherbak corralled a puck behind the net, and set up Hudon in the slot, who made no mistake in beating Lyon for the game-winning goal.

Danis turned away a late Phantoms push and gave St. John’s a much-needed win against one of the AHL’s best teams. Of note is that Charles Hudon and Chris Terry remain tied for the team lead in goals, now with 16 each.

Three Stars

  1. Charles Hudon (1G, 2A)
  2. Colin McDonald (1G, 1A) - LV
  3. Nikita Scherbak (1G, 2A)

The IceCaps will head back home for a six-game homestand, kicking it off with a Valentine’s back-to-back against the Binghamton Senators on Tuesday, February 14 and Wednesday, February 15.