IceCaps knock off Norfolk, move on

The St. John’s IceCaps advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 5-2 win over the Norfolk Admirals at Mile One Centre on Friday night.

The IceCaps win the series, four games to two, and will play for the Eastern Conference championship for the second time in three years.

St. John’s opened the scoring at 5:29 of the first period — the ninth time in 10 playoff games that the IceCaps have gotten the game’s first goal — as Jerome Samson buried the rebound of an Adam Lowry shot to make it 1-0.

Andre Petersson, whose Game 5 overtime goal extended the series for Norfolk, tied Game 6 at 1-1 with a power-play goal at 7:13.

Eric O’Dell netted his sixth goal in the last four games at 10:21 of the second period, finding a loose puck in front and putting it home during a 5-on-3 power play for the IceCaps.

Norfolk defenseman Steve Eminger then drove to the net and redirected a Chris Wagner pass with 5:38 to go in the second, tying the game at 2-2. It was Eminger’s first postseason goal since 2008 with the Washington Capitals.

Kyle MacKinnon gave St. John’s its third and final lead of the night with 2:57 left in the second, picking up a rebound of Brenden Kichton‘s shot and notching his first goal of the playoffs.

The IceCaps put the game out of reach with two goals 41 seconds apart early in the third period. Andrew Gordon made it 4-2 at the 3:27 mark, scoring from a sharp angle for his sixth goal of the postseason, and Ben Chiarot put a shot through traffic from the left-wing half-boards at 4:08 to make it a 5-2 game.

Michael Hutchinson (7-3) stopped 26 of 28 shots for the series-clinching win, while Brad Thiessen (1-3) finished with 34 saves on the evening.

St. John’s will meet either Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or Providence in the Eastern Conference Finals, beginning May 24 and 25 at Mile One.

Eastern Conference Semifinals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
4-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 8-Norfolk Admirals
| Series Snapshot
Game 1 – Tue., May 6 – Norfolk 3, ST. JOHN’S 1
Game 2 – Wed., May 7 – ST. JOHN’S 2, Norfolk 1
Game 3 – Sat., May 10 – St. John’s 5, NORFOLK 3 
Game 4 – Mon., May 12 – St. John’s 5, NORFOLK 1
Game 5 – Tue., May 13 – NORFOLK 3, St. John’s 2 (OT)
Game 6 – Fri., May 16 – ST. JOHN’S 5, Norfolk 2