IceCaps strike late to beat Devils

( — Ben Chiarot‘s point shot with just 23.1 seconds remaining sailed past Albany Devils netminder Keith Kinkaid, giving the St. John’s IceCaps a 2-1 victory during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

“A loose rebound just sort of laid there in front of Keith,” said Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky. “When everybody went to the net, he lost his stick and I don’t know that he ever really recovered. [The play] went to the top; it was a knuckler that kind of handcuffed him. We weren’t able to get in the shooting lane. It’s a tough one.”

The Devils were making their first Calder Cup Playoff appearance since 2010 and 6,572 fans were on hand at Times Union Center. It was the largest postseason crowd in Albany since Game 1 of the 1995 Calder Cup Finals.

St. John’s forward Eric O’Dell took the audience out of it early, opening the scoring 4:29 of the first period. A Devils miscue in the defensive end led to Jerome Samson finding O’Dell cutting to the net.

In the second, Joe Whitney tied the game with a power-play goal. Jon Merrill and Mike Sislo assisted on the tally, which came from a wrister in the slot at 2:13.

Albany, which averaged 25.4 shots against during the regular season, was outshot 32-26.

“Tonight’s over with,” Whitney said. “We played the game, gave everything we had and it wasn’t enough. We hit the reset button. We’re back at it tomorrow; maybe execute a little more and put a few more pucks into the net.”

Kinkaid finished with 30 saves in his Calder Cup Playoffs debut. At the other end, Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves.

“A loss is a loss,” Kinkaid said afterwards. “It could’ve been 7-2 or it could’ve been 2-1. A loss is a loss and you have to move on. It’s best of five for a reason.”

Game 2 is Saturday night in Albany (7 ET).

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “D” (best-of-5)
4-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 5-Albany Devils
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 25 – St. John’s 2, ALBANY 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 26 – St. John’s at Albany, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 30 – Albany at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 2 – Albany at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 3 – Albany at St. John’s, 6:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern