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Noah Juulsen makes his AHL debut as St. John’s drops a heated affair in Syracuse

The IceCaps have their backs to the wall after a 3-2 loss on Wednesday night

St. John’s IceCaps/Jeff Parsons

Following a split in St. John’s in the opening two games of the Calder Cup playoffs, the first round series shifted to Central New York and the OnCenter War Memorial Arena, home of the Syracuse Crunch and the home team took a 2-1 series lead in the best of five series, winning 3-2.

Noah Juulsen made his professional debut as the seventh defender for the IceCaps, who went with eleven forwards and seven defencemen for the game.

Right from the outset of the game, the pace was fast and overly physical. Michael McCarron leveled every player he could find who was sporting a blue jersey, and Jake Dotchin wiped out Matteau on a seemingly harmless dump in. Despite the run of play going in their favour, it would be St. John’s who conceded the opening marker. Henri Ikonen shot the puck in on net, allowing Brett Howden to play the loose puck off his skate and send it right to Joel Vermin who scored his first of the post season.

Roughly two minutes later it would be Erik Condra who lit the lamp, as he was left all alone in the slot and beat Lindgren five hole. A late IceCaps rush led to nothing of consequence except for a Max Friberg penalty shortly after. Some smart play from Bobby Farnham and de la Rose killed off the late infraction, and the IceCaps headed to the dressing room down a pair of goals.

The second period saw the offence finally wake up, spurred on by their star line yet again. With Dominik Masin sitting for high sticking and one of their players missing a stick, it would be Zach Redmond who rifled a shot past Mike McKenna. Scherbak dished off to Charles Hudon who put the puck on a tee for Redmond with twelve minutes gone.

Just thirty seconds later, Matteau took a pass off the boards from Friberg and made no mistake wiring a shot into the upper corner to tie the game at 2-2.

However, the Crunch would not go away. They took advantage after an errant pass from the IceCaps own zone ended up on the stick of Byron Froese who made it 3-2 for Syracuse. Hudon almost evened the score on a late breakaway, but McKenna got the blocker on the puck and turned the puck out of play to keep his team leading.

The aftermath of the period was much less desirable as former IceCap, Gabriel Dumont, gave McCarron a whack on the ankles. McCarron responded in turn before Keegan Lowe stepped in to tussle with the former captain. While McCarron was being separated, Tye McGinn rushed at him and was cross checked in the face for his troubles, sparking a massive brawl involving every player that was on the ice. Despite the severity of the action, McCarron was handed only a two-minute minor for his role in the donnybrook.

The third frame would be defined by a stand-out performance from the IceCaps penalty killing specialists, as an old discipline problem reared it’s ugly head once more. Lindgren was outstanding, stopping all ten shots he faced in the period including a sprawling snow angel save on a delayed penalty call.

With three penalties to kill in the period, the offence struggled to find their stride late in the game. Up to the task on the other end was McKenna, who turned away prime chances from Hudon, among others, to seal the 3-2 victory for the Crunch.

Three Stars

1. Mike McKenna(26 Saves)

2. Byron Froese(1 Goal)

3. Erik Condra(1 Goal)

The IceCaps now face elimination in the best-of-five series. They’ll be back in action at 7PM EST on Friday in Syracuse.