St. John’s, Newfoundland – The St. John’s IceCaps (41-21-5-3, 90 points, 2nd Eastern Conference) scored twice within the first five minutes of the game and never looked back as they defeated the Portland Pirates (32-30-4-5,73 points, 9th Eastern Conference) by a score of 5-2 in front of 6,287 fans at Mile One Centre. Two IceCaps players, including former Maine Black Bear Will O’Neill, scored their first professional goals in the win. David Aebischer made 31 saves while Eric O’Dell dished out three assists. Brett Sterling had a two-point game for the Pirates with a goal and an assist. With the defeat, the Pirates remain three points away from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with five games left in the season.
St. John’s got on the board just 2:15 into the game when Aaron Gagnon beat Portland starting goalie Peter Mannino with the rebound of a Kevin Clark shot. O’Neill also got an assist, his first professional point, on Gagnon’s 14th goal of the season.
The IceCaps went ahead 2-0 when Mannino was beaten on a rebound shot again, this time by John Albert for his eighth goal of the season. O’Dell and Danny Dries got assists on the goal at 4:46 of the opening period.
Portland pulled to within one late in the first when Marc-Antoine Pouliot was able to put his own rebound past Aebischer at 15:38. Pouliot’s eighth of the season was assisted by Sterling and Brett MacLean. The assist extended MacLean’s point streak to four games.
But, the IceCaps came out strong again in the second period. O’Neill scored his first pro goal when he blasted the puck past Mannino from the left circle at 1:45. Zach Redmond and O’Dell picked up the assists.
Then, just 15 seconds later, Mannino gave the puck away behind his own net, allowing Dries to score his first goal as a professional player. It was an unassisted goal and the last action Mannino would see in his first game back in St. John’s since the IceCaps loaned him, along with Kenndal McArdle, to the Pirates on March 3. He made 17 saves on 21 shots in 22 minutes of action. He took the defeat in the game to drop to 9-10-1 on the year.
His replacement, Justin Pogge, gave up a goal within the first five minutes of entering the game on unfortunate break. McArdle swept a puck out of the slot, but into a group of IceCaps players. It hit the stick of Redmond and deflected in the goal. It was Redmond’s eighth of the season. O’ Dell and Albert were given assists on the goal at 6:51.
Needing goals, the Pirates came out firing in the third period, and were rewarded with a power play goal early. Sterling was able to beat Aebischer from the bottom of the right circle for his 28th goal of the season. He was assisted by Nick Ross and Nathan Oystrick.
The Pirates would continue to put pressure on the IceCaps, but Aebischer made a number of key saves and the Pirates could get no closer.
With the victory, Aebischer improves to 15-10-2. Pogge gets a no decision for Portland, but was solid in relief of Mannino, making 26 saves on 27 shots in 38 minutes of action. The Pirates were 1-for-5 on the power play and held St. John’s, the third rated power play in the league, to 0-for-7 on the night.
The Fairway Mortgage Three Stars of the Game were all from St. John’s: 1. O’Dell; 2. Aebischer; 3. O’Neill.
The Portland Pirates conclude their two-game series with St. John’s IceCaps tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Join the Voice of the Portland Pirates, Jeff Mannix, for all of the play-by-play action from the Mile One Centre on WPEI 95.9 and 95.5 FM starting with the Pirates Pregame Show at 5:45 p.m.
The Pirates will return to the Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday, April 7 at 7:00 p.m. to take on the Sharks. The Pirates will welcome their 4 millionth fan in franchise history! Northeast Delta Dental will also give the first 1,500 fans through the turnstiles a limited edition Pirates tote bag. The night will also be another Bud Light Saturday Hockey Night in Portland, and the Pirates will be celebrating a Night of Champions, presented by Mercy Hospital. Come help the Pirates recognize local winter sports high school champions! These student athletes will participate in the ceremonial puck drop, receive both in-seat and videoboard recognition throughout the game, see their championship trophy displayed in the concourse, and have the opportunity to be featured a live in-game radio interview. Don’t miss out on the fun!
Portland Pirates 20th Anniversary Season Tickets are now on sale! You can secure your seats for as low as $50! Season tickets include plenty of great incentives! To find out more, call the Pirates Tickets Office at 828-4665, EXT 350 today!
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