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IceCaps clinch Atlantic Division title

Monday, 02.04.2012 / 9:52 AM / St. John's IceCaps
St. John's IceCaps

It took a few tries, but the St. John’s IceCaps finally clinched a playoff spot and the Atlantic Division crown with a solid 3-2 victory over the Hershey Bears Saturday night at the Giant Center.

Patrice Cormier potted two goals for St. John’s, including a shorthanded marker in the opening frame, to lead the club to its 40th win of the season and a guaranteed top-three seeding in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. The IceCaps become the first team since the 2002-03 Binghamton Senators to win a division title in its inaugural season.

Goaltender Chris Carrozzi, starting just his second AHL game and first with the IceCaps, was tremendous between the pipes, stopping 24-of-26 shots for his first career victory. Arturs Kulda also scored for the IceCaps, while Carl Klingberg picked up a pair of assists.

Hershey struck first at 12:36 of the opening frame on a nice redirection by Mike Carman. Sean Collins took a quick shot from the point that Carman deftly deflected past Carrozzi, who had no chance on the play.

St. John’s tied things up less than four minutes later while down a man. Cormier took a feed in the slot from Klingberg, and the Moncton native wired a shot high on Sabourin for his 16th of the season, tying the game at one.

The IceCaps pulled ahead midway through the second period on a breakaway goal by Kulda. As the defenceman stepped onto the ice following his tripping minor, he was fed by Zach Redmond and raced in alone, snapping a shot high on Sabourin’s blocker side for a 2-1 IceCaps lead.

St. John’s got its third goal of the game at 8:34 of the final frame when Cormier notched his second of the night and 17th of the season. Klingberg busted down the right wing and threaded a cross-ice pass to Cormier, who was barreling towards the net. The big centre shovelled the puck at on goal and it caromed off a Bears defender before ending up past Sabourin, giving the visitors a 3-1 lead.

The insurance goal proved to be huge for St. John’s, as Hershey scored with just 13 seconds left in regulation to narrow the gap to 3-2. The IceCaps couldn’t clear the defensive zone and Kyle Greentree pounced on the turnover, feeding a wide-open Ryan Potulny for his 28th of the season.

However, it was too little too late for the Bears. The IceCaps hung on for the much-deserved win, giving the team with plenty to celebrate as they head home Sunday to start their final home stand of the season. The team will have the next two days to try and rest up for the Portland Pirates, who visit Mile One Centre Tuesday and Wednesday.

Catch all the action with play-by-play broadcaster Brian Rogers at www.stjohnsicecaps.com and on 930AM This Is Newfoundland Labrador.

SCHEDULE

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PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
B. Wheeler 82 28 41 4 69
B. Little 82 23 41 8 64
D. Byfuglien 78 20 36 -20 56
A. Ladd 78 23 31 8 54
O. Jokinen 82 18 25 -8 43
M. Frolik 81 15 27 8 42
E. Kane 63 19 22 -7 41
M. Scheifele 63 13 21 9 34
T. Enstrom 82 10 20 -9 30
J. Trouba 65 10 19 4 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Montoya 13 8 3 .920 2.30
O. Pavelec 22 26 7 .901 3.01