ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland — The St. John’s IceCaps scored four-second period goals Wednesday night to beat the Portland Pirates 5-1 at the Mile One Center, the first of three games between the teams this week.
The Pirates, who have lost 5 of 6, remain in town for games Friday and Saturday.
Pirates goalie Mark Vistentin appeared solid in the first period, kicking out all 17 shots.
Then came the onslaught.
Andrew Gordon of the IceCaps scored his 20th goal 5:19 into the second period.
Less than two minutes later, J.C. Lipon broke a 24-game scoreless drought and finished off a two-on-one break on a great pass from Jason Jaffray.
It was 3-0 at 9:48 when Jerome Samson scored a power-play goal. Lipon’s second goal of the period 50 seconds later capped the four-goal outburst.
Brett Hextall of the Pirates and Jaffray traded third-period goals as the IceCaps won their ninth straight.
“I think there was an 8-minute span there where we just couldn’t keep up,” said Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said. “Unfortunately, that’s been the story of this group. We can’t handle momentum shifts.
“We give up one goal then we give up a couple mental mistakes or take a penalty. It’s something that as a group, we have to figure it out. It’s been a tough stretch for us but we have to find a way to learn from it and be better on Friday.”
Visentin finished with 32 saves for the Pirates, and IceCaps starter Michael Hutchinson made 27 saves.
The Pirates finished the night 0 for 5 with the man advantage and the IceCaps scored a pair of power-play goals on five chances.
Edwards gave full credit to the IceCaps, who are peaking at the right time.
Edwards knows his team needs to make some changes to turn the momentum in their corner and to remain competitive for the final two games of the series.
“They have had our number all year,” Edwards said of the IceCaps. “We haven’t had an answer for them. As coaches, we have to come up with a better plan for Friday night and hopefully we will be able to manage momentum better. They have been able to do that all year against us where they have been able to get two or three goals in a short time.”
The IceCaps are 8-1 against the Pirates this season, outscoring them 45-26.
“It’s tough when you’re in a situation like us,” Edwards said. “It gets very frustrating repeating the same things over and over to your group. I haven’t done a good enough job getting them to get the job done.
“Whether it’s the wrong people on the ice or not holding guys accountable enough, I just haven’t been able to push the right buttons with this group.”