NORFOLK, Va. – St. John’s poured in five goals and Eric O’Dell scored two in the IceCaps’ decisive 5-1 win in Game 4 Monday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The IceCaps can eliminate the Admirals tomorrow night in Game 5 at Scope with another victory to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
The IceCaps found their way around Admiral goaltender Brad Thiessen (0-2-0) early and often. He saved 23 of 28 shots from St. John’s while his successful counterpart, IceCaps’ Michael Hutchinson (6-2-0), stopped 28 pucks of the 29 he faced.
It only took four minutes and 11 seconds for the IceCaps to go on top when Will O’Neill drove a pass from Josh Morrissey towards Thiessen. Norfolk captain Garnet Exelby and St. John’s winger Carl Klingberg fought for position in front of the blue paint as Klingberg managed to tip the shot underneath Thiessen for a 1-0 lead early in the first period.
Ten and a half minutes later the IceCap lead grew on the power play as O’Neill and Morrissey connected again. O’Neill steered a shot wide of the net that captain Jason Jaffray redirected past Thiessen’s left side. St. John’s’ fourth power play goal in the last three games stretched the lead to 2-0 at 14:39 of the opening period.
The IceCap lead doubled in the first four minutes of the second period on goals by Jerome Samson and O’Dell. Samson was the beneficiary of a three-on-one rush into Admirals territory as Adam Lowry found Samson with a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone that Samson placed in the top right corner over Thiessen’s glove two minutes and 37 seconds in.
Soon after, three IceCaps crashed the net as four Admirals tried to hold them off. Thiessen made two pad saves amidst heavy traffic in the crease before O’Dell flipped a rebound into the twine. What was a two-goal advantage ballooned into a 4-0 lead for St. John’s at the 4:05 mark of the middle frame.
Norfolk got one back at 8:36 that started with a tidy pass by rookie Shea Theodore from his own goal line to William Karlsson at center ice. Karlsson led Andre Petersson into the IceCap zone and Petersson beat Hutchinson to his left side for the first Admiral tally of the night. St. John’s carried the 4-1 lead into the second intermission.
O’Dell tacked on another to make it five for St. John’s and two for himself on the evening. Thiessen made the first save on Jaffray but the puck dropped from between his arm and torso. Looking back to the rear board, Thiessen never located the loose puck, which O’Dell swept past his right skate at 14:57 of the third period.
The fifth goal for the IceCaps completed the night’s scoring as well as the third St. John’s win of the conference semifinal. Their 5-1 victory leaves the IceCaps one win shy of a berth in the Eastern Conference Final.