The IceCaps started off the second leg of their North Division road trip in Syracuse on Wednesday night. It was the seventh time these two teams have met this year. The Crunch lead the North Division, while St. John’s sits in fifth place, chasing Utica and Toronto for the final playoff spot.
St. John’s owned the flow of play in the opening period, firing 14 shots at Kristers Gudlevskis, who was up to the task and stopped everything he faced. A disjointed power play didn’t help things as the IceCaps squandered a pair of man advantages late in the period.
Syracuse, however, used the power play to take the lead as Adam Comrie collected a pass and walked in uncontested to wire home a shot past Charlie Lindgren. A scuffle after the whistle saw the IceCaps take another penalty, and they started the second period down a man as well.
In the middle frame, that lack of discipline caused them to play a large portion of the period short-handed. With Keegan Lowe serving his roughing minor, Tye McGinn pounced a rebound and put the puck past Lindgren to double the Syracuse lead.
St. John’s battled back with Max Friberg poking a puck behind Gudlevskis in a scramble around the net. Julien Brouillette fired in a shot that the Crunch goaltender lost sight off, but the IceCaps captain located it and managed to get his team on the board.
With David Broll serving a double minor for roughing/boarding, the Crunch man advantage restored the two-goal lead. Chris Terry lost his footing and left Cory Conacher all alone, and Conacher wristed a shot past Lindgren to push the score to 3-1.
While far more disciplined in the final period, the IceCaps still struggled to get their offence in sync. They pushed play down ice, but once into the offensive zone, the IceCaps had difficulty connecting on passes, leading to missed opportunities.
Just past the midway point of the period a loose puck came to Brett Lernout at the point. The hulking blue-liner opted to fire a shot, and Stefan Matteau deflected it home for his 11th goal of the year.
That would be the last of the goals for St. John’s as Syracuse continued to smother the line of Chris Terry, Charles Hudon, and Nikita Scherbak before adding an empty-net goal for the 4-2 win.
1. Cory Conacher (2G 2A)
2. Kristers Gudlevskis (25 Saves)
3. Erik Condra (2A)
The IceCaps now travel to Rochester for a Friday night meeting with the Americans, before travelling back to Syracuse for a final meeting with the Crunch on Saturday. The IceCaps sit three points back of the Toronto Marlies for third in the division, and also trail the Utica Comets for the final North Division playoff spot based on points percentage. A big weekend for the IceCaps playoff hopes lies ahead in New York.