© — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The St. John’s IceCaps’ Patrice Cormier (28) picks up a pass from teammate Kyle MacKinnon (19) in between the Portland Pirates’ Tobias Rieder during the team’s American Hockey League game Wednesday night at Mile One Centre. The IceCaps collected a ninth straight win by beating the Pirates 5-1. The teams meet again Friday and Saturday night. Game times are 7:30 p.m.
IceCaps beat Pirates 5-1 in first of three meetings at Mile One this week
The St. John’s IceCaps keep rolling along, and the American Hockey League’s hottest team is getting production from up and down the lineup.
Wednesday night, it was J.C. Lipon’s turn as the 20-year-old rookie scored a pair of goals in the IceCaps’ 5-1 win over the Portland Pirates at Mile One Centre.
It was the ninth win in a row for St. John’s, which improved to 37-19-1-3 on the year. The Pirates, mired in a two-way tie with the Adirondack Phantoms for last place in the AHL, fell to 21-29-2-8.
The usual cast of characters also scored for the IceCaps last night, as both Andrew Gordon and Jerome Samson netted their 20th goals on the year. Toss in Jason Jaffray, who had been setting up goals lately with six assists in his last five starts. Jaffray tallied his 16th Wednesday.
But it was Lipon who stood out, if only because the Regina, Sask., product had been struggling so much of late.
Entering Wednesday’s tilt, Lipon had not scored in his last 24 games.
“I was really excited to get that first one,” he grinned. “I think I blacked out during my celebration.”
Mathieu Brodeur ruined Michael Hutchinson’s shutout bid, scoring 34 seconds into the third period with St. John’s up 4-0.
Regardless of the Pirates’ standing in the Eastern Conference, it was an overall solid game for the IceCaps, who scored two power play goals, and killed off five Portland power plays.
In terms of wins, St. John’s trails only Manchester in that department in the East (39 to 37), but the IceCaps have three games in hand on the Monarchs.
“These are teams we have to beat,” Lipon said of the lowly Pirates, and the sub-.500 Bridgeport Sound Tigers who St. John’s beat twice last weekend. “We can’t let those points slip away.”
The Pirates played the IceCaps close in the first period, holding the host team scoreless as Mark Visentin stopped all 17 shots.
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But the floodgates opened in the second as Lipon netted his two and Gordon and Samson notched their goals.
“I was kind of beating myself up (over the lengthy scoring drought),” Lipon said. “So I just decided to stop worrying and get one.
“On the second goal, I honestly pictured it before the faceoff. I just said I’m going to get this and shoot it. It went in and I was pretty excited.”
Fellow rookie Adam Lowry, who finished with two assists and plus-three, won the draw back to Lipon who one-timed a shot past Visentin.
The Pirates’ goalie finished the night with 32 saves. Hutchinson made 27 stops for his 15th win.
The teams go at it again Friday and Saturday nights at Mile One. Start time each night is 7:30.
NOTES: Eric O’Dell was recalled to the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday to replace another IceCap, John Albert, who was injured Tuesday night in a game against the Colorado Avalanche. Albert was said to have suffered a minor injury and is listed as day to day. O’Dell appeared in 14 games this season for the Jets … Carl Klingberg returned to the IceCaps lineup Wednesday after sitting out Saturday’s game with a leg injury … Goulds native James Melindy suited up for the Pirates, wearing No. 4. He finished minus-four … The Molson Canadian three stars were 1. J.C. Lipon 2. Adam Lowry 3. Andrew Gordon … The Mary Brown’s hardest working IceCap was Jason Jaffray …