Zach Sill’s goal with 15.8 seconds left in the third period that broke a 2-2 deadlock was the culmination of hard work and determination that epitomizes Sill’s entire career.
What allowed Sill to break the 2-2 deadlock was something that will go down in Wilkes-Barre lore as something that I have gone ahead and labeled myself. I call it, “The Shift.”
With 8:56 to go in the third period and the Penguins trailing 2-1, the St. John’s IceCaps, after a long shift, ice the puck. Head Coach Keith McCambrige uses his timeout.
Coach John Hynes sends Brian Dumoulin and Simon Despres over the board on the blue line and Brian Gibbons, Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ebbett up front.
IceCaps have Kris Fredheim, Andrew Gordon, John Albert, Kael Moulillierat and Jordan Hill on the ice.
The Penguins cycle the puck. They still cycle and cycle some more. The IceCaps try to clear and cannot. More cycling. Cycle, cycle. A shot maybe. A stick breaks. It’s belongs to an IceCap. More cycling. A couple saves from Andrew Hutchinson. More desperation clears for the IceCaps but the Penguins keep them hemmed in.
The crescendo was building. You could feel it. If we were going to win this series, it started here and now and we needed to score a goal here.
Finally, a pass to Kobasew, who darts a quick pass to a cutting Ebbett, who fakes like he is going to shoot and draws the IceCaps defense towards him, then a feather pass back to Kobasew who slams it home. Tie game.
That was 85 seconds of Penguins mastery in the offensive zone. The longest shift of the season and one that paid off. The Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins win the game 4-2 and force Game 6, Tuesday in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Oh, on Ebbett and Kobasew. Those two re-appeared into the lineup and I guess it is safe to say that they made their presence felt, immediately.
I am hoping that Coal Street puts video of “The Shift” up on YouTube or somewhere.
Anyway, to the rest of the game.
The Penguins made two lineup changes. Kobasew and Ebbett for Tom Kuhnhackl and Carter Rowney. Kuhnhackl I think skated the extra in warmups. It was Peter Mannino vs. Michael Hutchinson in net. JC Lipon was scratched for the IceCaps, who skated 7 defensemen and 11 forwards with Josh Morrissey back in the lineup on defense for St. John’s.
The IceCaps open the scoring and connect on power play while on a 5-on-3 in the first period. Their third straight game of scoring on a two man advantage. Will O’Neill through bodies and it was 1-0 IceCaps.
Spencer Machacek knotted things up at a goal a piece in the second with a nifty shot over Hutchinson’s shoulder while the Penguins were in 2-on-1. He looked off his man and shot it top corner.
With Scott Harrington in the penalty box for a questionable tripping call, the IceCaps score on the power play to make it 2-1. It was a soft shot from the point that redirected past Mannino to give St. John’s a 2-1 lead.
The St. John’s IceCaps were undefeated when leading after two periods.
Things got chippy in the third period. Brian Gibbons was kneed which led to a penalty on Jason Jaffray. The Penguins power play woes continued as they failed to score on the advantage. Then Gibbons was run over again, but this time no call from the officials. As he was skating off the ice, Gibbons punches a St. John’s player and is whistled for the obvious roughing penalty.
After the Sill score with 15.8 left, the IceCaps went with an extra attacker. The Penguins win the face-off and Chuck Kobasew scored an easy empty netter that led to bedlam. Will O’Neill cross checks Andrew Ebbett all the way to Newfoundland it seemed and a line brawl ensued. We will have to see if there will be any discipline from the League after that, as O’Neill was called for a match penalty for cross-checking and all match penalties are reviewed automatically, but I don’t think that there will be.
Three stars were Spencer Machacek (goal, +1) Chuck Kobasew (two goals, +2) and Zach Sill (goal, +1)
Honorable mentions go to Brian Dumoulin (+4) Simon Despres (two assist, +3) and Andrew Ebbett (two assists, +2)
Both teams share a charter tomorrow back to The Rock which should be interesting.
SendToNews highlights are here. It opens with, “The Shift” and rolls from there. Click through.
To think that the Penguins have won the series tonight would be foolish. They still need to gut out two wins on consecutive nights in St. John’s where the home team never loses two games in a row. But these are your Cardiac Penguins, right? Nothing is ever easy.
One game at a time.
Let’s Go Pens!!!