IceCaps suffer loss to Norfolk; series now at 3-2
Plans were for a leisurely trip back to St. John's, and then to spend the remainder of the week resting and watching from a distance while Providence and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton settle the issue of which team would be the opponent in the American Hockey League Eastern Conference final.
But Andre Petersson scored a power-play goal from near the blue line at 13:10 of overtime Tuesday to give the Norfolk Admirals a 3-2 win over the IceCaps in Game 5 of their semifinal, and those plans— beyond the trip home— were scuttled for St. John's.
The IceCaps still lead the series 3-2, but Norfolk will be on the same plane and will play at St. John's in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series on Friday. Game 7, if necessary, would be on Saturday.
"We wanted to end it tonight," said St. John's centre Eric O'Dell, who scored both of the IceCaps' goals after scoring twice on Monday as well. His goal at 17:02 of the third period tied the game 2-2 to force the overtime.
'Nice to get the win' at home
"It happens in playoff hockey," said O'Dell, who is with St. John's because its affiliate Winnipeg did not make the NHL playoffs. He spent two months with the Jets, who sent him back when their season ended.
"It will be nice to get the (fourth) win in front of the home crowd."
Norfolk took a 2-1 lead in the opening seconds of the third period when 18-year-old Shea Theodore skated in on the St. John's net, then put on enough speed to find a clear path and backhand a shot past goalie Michael Hutchinson.
Theodore, a defenseman who played junior hockey for Seattle of the Western Hockey League after being Anaheim's No. 1 choice in the 2013 draft, took a puck off the left-wing wall and skated in slowly. Theodore turned IceCaps' defender Will O'Neill around in the faceoff circle, accelerated and beat the defense to the right side of the crease before shooting.
"I think I had one or two similar goals to that in junior," said Theodore. "I think instincts maybe sneaked in a little bit and I just got one past his blocker side. I think when I first got here, I would have panicked and shot the puck. I finally held it this time and a lane opened up."
Power play shut down
His goal broke a 1-1 tie fashioned in the opening period.
After O'Dell's first goal gave St. John's an early 1-0 lead, Norfolk seemed to tie things with an apparent goal by Petersson at 16:01 of the opening period. But the goal was waved off because the Admirals were caught with an extra player on the ice and assessed a penalty.
It was served by Zach Stortini, and Norfolk was taxed by a St. John's power play, which was killed. The final blow to that man advantage came when Admiral winger Max Friberg tipped away a shot by Josh Morrissey, like Theodore, a high-scoring 18-year-old defenseman in the WHL, for Prince Albert.
The loose puck slipped back toward centre ice, where Stortini left the penalty box in time to take it in and send it to Friberg, dashing down the ice.
Friberg's shot from the right wing faceoff circle was stopped by Hutchinson but bounced high into the air and came down behind the goalie and skittered into the net to tie things 1-1 at 18:11.
Thiessen made 36 saves while Hutchinson turned away 34-of-37 shots in defeat.
So work remains for St. John's.
"We're real happy with two wins here," O'Dell said of victories in Games 3 and 4 in Norfolk after splitting two games in St. John's. "Now we'll go back home and finish it there."