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IceCaps vs. Devils game recap: Last-minute loss leaves playoff hopes on life support

The biggest weekend of the season is not off to a good start.

St. John’s IceCaps/Jeff Parsons

It was a fairly quiet opening period between the St. John’s IceCaps and Albany Devils. There was high energy and a fast pace, but only one goal between the North Division rivals.

Yann Danis and Mackenzie Blackwood both made some crucial saves early, but the Devils would strike first just past the halfway point. Steven Santini threw a pass in front of the crease and Shane Harper tipped it home past the sprawling Danis.

The start to the second period was not ideal, to say the least, for St. John’s, as Albany struck twice in less than 30 seconds to open up a 3-0 lead. Nick Lappin scored first, after a shot fell to the stick of John Quenneville, who dished off to Lappin for the goal.

An errant pass led to the Devils third goal. Brian Gibbons picked off a poor clearing pass, and flipped it to Blake Pietila. Pietila shot and Gibbons tipped the puck home at close range, seemingly putting the game out of reach.

The IceCaps had different plans, and it was the team’s lone All-Star, Chris Terry, who sparked the comeback. With the Devils down a man, Zach Redmond found Terry in his usual spot in the faceoff circle, and as usual it resulted in a goal: the 28th of the year for Terry. And with that goal he topped Bud Holloway’s single-season points record.

After scoring a goal it was Terry’s turn to be the playmaker for Zach Redmond during a crucial 5-on-3 power play. Nikita Scherbak passed off to Terry, who played catch with Redmond before the defender wired one home to make it a one-goal affair.

Despite the Devils’ dominance to start the game, the final period was owned by St. John’s in the early going, David Broll in particular tested Mackenzie Blackwood several times. The veteran grinder eventually set up the IceCaps’ game-tying goal at 14:34 of the third period. Broll found a wide-open Keegan Lowe, who ripped home his sixth goal of the year to erase the three-goal deficit.

The final frame had its scares however, with Max Friberg taking a rough shot from behind into the boards, and Nikita Scherbak being leveled by Seth Helgeson in the corner. Despite it being a clean hit, Scherbak was on the ice for a few minutes before making his way to the bench and the locker room. Thankfully it appeared to be a non-serious injury and Scherbak did return to the ice in the period.

However, it was not meant to be for St. John’s as a late penalty on Jacob de la Rose sent the Devils to the power play with just a minute in regulation. The IceCaps made it quite interesting in the dying seconds as Redmond appeared to score a miraculous goal at the buzzer to force overtime. Upon further review, the official first signaled it was a good goal before waving it off, and handing the IceCaps a major blow to their playoff hopes. Head coach Sylvain Lefebvre was obviously not pleased by the sequence of events and let the officiating crew know it on the bench.

The IceCaps continue their trip through the North Division on Saturday when they clash with the last-place Binghamton Senators, who have given them fits all year. Following that they’ll square off in the biggest game of the season against the Utica Comets on Sunday.

Three Stars

1. Nick Lappin (2 Goals)

2. Brian Gibbons (1 Goal)

3. Keegan Lowe (1 Goal)

North Division Standings

x - Toronto Marlies 73 40 28 4 1 85 0.582 37
x-Syracuse Crunch 73 35 24 7 7 84 0.575 33
Albany Devils 73 37 31 2 3 79 0.541 34
St. John's IceCaps 74 35 29 8 2 80 0.541 32
Utica Comets 73 34 30 7 2 77 0.527 32
Rochester Americans 72 31 39 0 2 64 0.444 30
Binghamton Senators 73 27 42 2 2 58 0.397 25