Eric O'Dell helps IceCaps oust Admirals from AHL playoffs
Scores 6th goal in 4 games to lead St. John's to East final
Eric O'Dell is hitting his stride at the right time for the St. John's IceCaps.
O'Dell scored his sixth goal in four games to help St. John's beat the visiting Admirals 5-2 on Friday and eliminate Norfolk from the American Hockey League playoffs.
"I've been finding the back of the net," O'Dell said. "It just feels like the puck is finding my stick and I've been able to put it in. Give credit to my linemates for finding me and getting the puck on the net and I've been lucky to get them in the back of the net. My confidence is really high."
IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge has recognized O'Dell's contributions to the team, naming him alternate captain while regular captain Jason Jaffray was out for Game 6 of the series against the Admirals.
"We feel he's a leader," said McCambridge. "He's been here three years and that there's leadership qualities there and that's why he had the opportunity to wear an 'A."'
Jerome Samson, Kyle MacKinnon, Andrew Gordon and Ben Chiarot also scored for the IceCaps. McCambridge believes the key to the victory was St. John's depth on all four forward lines.
"By the third period, the ability to roll four lines really kicked in," he said. "Through this whole series we've talked about trying to utilize our depth and our four lines and I felt that third period was a direct result of that."
Andre Petersson and Steve Eminger replied for the Admirals.
The IceCaps took the lead 5:29 into the game when Adam Lowry shot on net and Samson fired home the rebound from the slot into a practically empty net.
Petersson tied the game for Norfolk when he buried a strong wrist shot in off the crossbar at the 7:13 mark of the first period on the power play.
IceCaps goalie Michael Hutchinson stopped a breakaway chance at 9:45 into the first period to keep the game tied, and then 45 seconds later bailed out St. John's on another breakaway.
O'Dell found a loose puck off a rebound when skating to the right side of the net and scored on a quick wrister for the IceCaps with 9:39 left in the second period.
The Admirals capitalized when Chris Wagner fanned on a shot which ended up trickling across the slot to an incoming Eminger, who scored an easy tap-in at the right post at the 14:22 mark of the second period.
St. John's took back the lead when MacKinnon knocked in a loose puck in the crease after defencemen Brenden Kichton carried it to the net from the point at the 17:03 mark of the second period.
The IceCaps ran rampant to start the third, as Gordon caught the Admirals napping 3:27 into the period, scoring on a heads-up play with a quick wrist shot from along the goal-line to beat an out-of-position Brad Thiessen.
St. John's added another 41 seconds later when Chiarot found a hole in traffic and the goalie to score a well-placed wrist shot from the side boards.
Hutchinson stopped 26 for the IceCaps, while the Admirals' Thiessen saved 34.
The IceCaps now get a week of rest before opening the Eastern Conference final against either the Providence Bruins or the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The time off, McCambridge said, will prove beneficial for injured players, like captain Jaffary.
"Knock on wood, we need to try and stay as healthy as possible," said McCambridge. "This week of rest is something we will try to utilize."
O'Dell said the IceCaps will savour the series win, but are looking forward to the road ahead.
"Everyone is happy in [the room], all smiles, but we're going to enjoy this series win and then tomorrow we go back to work."