Crunch take preseason opener in St. John’s


( — The St. John’s IceCaps dropped a 5-2 decision to the Syracuse Crunch in Game 1 of the Mary’s Cup Thursday night at Mile One Centre.

Cedric Paquette scored twice for Syracuse while Riku Helenius stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced in relief of Cedrick Desjardins to pick up the victory.

Kael Mouillierat had a goal and an assist for the IceCaps with Cody Sol picking up the other St. John’s marker. Michael Hutchinson stopped 20 of 24 shots.

After a scoreless first period the Crunch got on the board at the 4:16 mark of the middle frame. Paquette pounced on a bouncing puck in the slot and swept a shot past Hutchinson to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.

Syracuse added to its lead with 7:41 to go in the second when Luke Witkowski stepped out of the penalty box and beat Hutchinson with a wrist shot to make it 2-0.

St. John’s cut the lead in half less than a minute later on a power play goal by Sol. Mouillierat found Sol pinching on the left side and the big defenseman fired a snap shot past Helenius low on the glove side to make it a 2-1 game.

The IceCaps tied the score with just 4.2 seconds left in the second on a goal by Mouillierat. The IceCaps forward knocked home a rebound on the doorstep with assists going to Kyle MacKinnon and Carl Klingberg to send the teams to the dressing room knotted at two apiece.

In the third, Syracuse pulled in front on an unassisted goal by Tanner Richard at the 8:16 mark. Richard picked off an errant pass at his own blue line and raced in alone, beating Hutchinson high on the glove side to give the Crunch a 3-2 lead.

The Crunch got an insurance marker on Paquette’s second of the night late in the third. Paquette broke in off the left side and went backhand on Hutchinson, sliding home Syracuse’s fourth tally of the night.

Vladislav Namestnikov added the empty netter at 18:46 to seal the win for Syracuse.

Game 2 of the three-game preseason series between the teams goes Saturday night in Clarenville at the Clarenville Events Centre.