The St. John’s IceCaps have won the Richard F. Canning Trophy as the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference champions for 2013-14, claiming the title with a 5-0 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, N.L., on Tuesday night.
In just their third season of existence, the IceCaps are heading to their first Calder Cup Finals, where they will take on the winner of tonight’s Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals between the Texas Stars and the Toronto Marlies.
Michael Hutchinson (11-5) made 32 saves for his third shutout of the playoffs to backstop St. John’s to the series-clinching victory.
The IceCaps killed off three Wilkes-Barre power plays in the first period of Game 6 — including a double-minor to Kael Mouillierat early on — and then capitalized on their first man-advantage as Eric O’Dell redirected a pass from Brendan Kichton with 2:07 left before intermission.
It was the ninth goal of the playoffs for O’Dell, and marked the fourth game in a row in which the IceCaps took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal.
Wilkes-Barre pressured and had a great chance to tie the game early in the second but couldn’t convert, and moments later the IceCaps doubled their lead to 2-0 as Josh Morrissey skated the puck all the way down the left-wing side, took it around the net and sent a pass from the bottom of the right-wing circle to Adam Lowry, who one-timed it home for his second goal of the playoffs at 3:24.
The Penguins entered the third period trailing — just as they did in Game 5 — but hopes for another comeback took a serious blow at 2:23 when Blair Riley deflected Kichton’s shot from the center point and it got through Peter Mannino (9-8) to put St. John’s up 3-0.
Less than three minutes later, the IceCaps opened up a 4-0 lead as Zach Redmond scored his second goal of the playoffs on a long wrist shot from the right point that found its way through a screen.
IceCaps captain Jason Jaffray finished things off with an empty-net goal from his own blue line with just 47.5 seconds to go.
St. John’s was 1-for-5 on the power play, finishing the series at 7-for-33 (21.2). The IceCaps were also perfect on the penalty kill in the series, holding the Penguins scoreless on 32 chances after an 0-for-5 in Game 6.
The top affiliate of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, the IceCaps – led by head coach Keith McCambridge – finished second in the Atlantic Division and earned the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with a regular-season record of 46-23-2-5 (99 points), then defeated the Albany Devils (3-1) in the conference quarterfinals, the Norfolk Admirals (4-2) in the conference semifinals and the Penguins (4-2) in the conference finals to reach the Finals.
The schedule for the 2014 Calder Cup Finals will be announced following the Texas-Toronto game later tonight.
Established in 1990, the AHL’s Eastern Conference championship trophy honors Richard F. Canning, who served the AHL for more than 50 years during his career, including a term as league president from 1958-61. Mr. Canning is recognized as the author of the AHL’s constitution, by-laws and regulations.
Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
4-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 6-W-B/Scranton Penguins | Series Snapshot
Game 1 – Sat., May 24 – W-B/Scranton 3, ST. JOHN’S 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 25 – ST. JOHN’S 2, W-B/Scranton 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 28 – St. John’s 5, W-B/SCRANTON 0
Game 4 – Thu., May 29 – St. John’s 2, W-B/SCRANTON 1
Game 5 – Sat., May 31 – W-B/SCRANTON 4, St. John’s 2
Game 6 – Tue., June 3 – ST. JOHN’S 5, W-B/Scranton 0